This week, Greg Fitzsimmons returns to Indianapolis - the first place he ever headlined a comedy club - for the first time in about six years.
Forgive him: He's been a little busy, as you'll see from this interview. If he wasn't having a family and writing for Ellen DeGeneres' TV show, he's been working on TV scripts and a book, providing commentary for VH1's I Love the (Blank)
shows and Best Week Ever
, hosting the Adult Video News awards, doing a weekly show on Sirius satellite radio and performing 60-second interstitial spots called "Scenario DogvCat" on the Adult Swim channel.
Oh, and adopting a pet.
"We just rescued a puppy and I had to fill out 10 pages of paperwork," he says. "And they did a home inspection before they'd give us the puppy. And I thought: How bad is your life if they come over, check out where you live and say, 'We're just going to go ahead and kill him. This is fine for you, but I think it would be better if we put him to death rather than live like you.'"
Here's more from Fitzsimmons.
NUVO: Let's start with an essay question: Compare and contrast being a guest on The Bob and Tom Show
with being a guest on The Howard Stern Show
Fitzsimmons: Bob and Tom are the best audience in the world. I always tease them because when you're on the air, they are falling out of their chairs, laughing and really enjoying it. Then the second you go to commercial, they open their newspapers and just start reading.
They like material. They want you to come in and bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! And kill. Whereas Stern wants you to tell a story or reveal something.
NUVO: You always seem very comfortable on both shows, though I have to say that when you're on the Stern
show during the news, that's some of the funniest radio.
Fitzsimmons: I still get nervous every time going in. When the news comes on, it's toward the end of the show. Howard's tired. Many times when I come in, it's a Thursday, which is their last workday. Everyone's fried and it's a real opportunity to step in and try to contribute to the show.
NUVO: But Bob and Tom
has to be the greatest place for a comedian.
Fitzsimmons: They've always supported standups - not just in your actual interviews but the plugs and staying in touch. They're real comedy fans, and it's turned into this real nice reciprocal relationship. Doing Stern
and doing Bob and Tom
both helped me grow as a comedian. On Bob and Tom
, I learned how to come in and be prepared and let somebody set me up. The Stern
thing taught me to trust that if I tell the truth, it will always be entertaining. It may not be funny, it may be awkward, but it's always good radio.
NUVO: You do a lot more writing than most comics. Why is that?
Fitzsimmons: I've been a writer since I was a little kid. I wrote a James Bond script when I was about 8 or 9 years old. I've always loved writing. I was an English major. When I started doing standup, I was always trying to come up with new material. And standup is so much more rewarding for me when I'm on stage and I have a bunch of ideas I'm working on. When my kids were born, I wanted to be around more, so I transitioned from working the road Tuesday through Sunday 45 weeks a year to mostly Fridays and Saturdays and maybe 60 percent less roadwork.
In the meantime, I'll pick up writing jobs. I worked on a sitcom all fall that is not going to end up on the air, but we worked on it for three months. I have a deal right now with 20th Century Fox for a sitcom. It's a pretty big deal - it's the Greg Fitzsimmons sitcom, basically. I've been writing the scripts since fall, and about two weeks ago I handed them the first draft and they really liked it. They gave me some notes and I'm doing some rewrites. In about three weeks, we're going to the next level and it'll be made into a pilot. That's really exciting - and nerve-racking.
If I could do anything, it would be just standup. Unfortunately, that involves me flying and being away from my family a lot. So it's something I do more selectively now.
NUVO: You worked on the Ellen
show for two years. How was that?
Fitzsimmons: I won four daytime Emmys - two for producing and two for writing. I learned a lot about it because I was there from the beginning. Months before the show aired, I was there in meetings every day, learning how a new show is created from the ground up. It was a great learning experience, but I think it will be a while before I go back to a show where you've got a 5 o'clock deadline every day with cameras rolling. I know guys who've been on Conan
since Day One and I don't know how they do it. It's really an intense grind.
NUVO: You also hosted the Adult Video News awards. People probably think it's a great gig, but I imagine that's a tough audience because they take their "craft" so seriously.
Fitzsimmons: Absolutely. That's Oscar night for them.
It really is the coming together of two very similar worlds. Standup comedy is no different than pornography. You're entertaining people for a very brief period of time and you can do whatever you want. There's a lot of creative freedom, and it's considered dirty in some ways. Comics and strippers end up hanging together in the same bars because we're society's rejects. We're clowns and we take ourselves very seriously.
For me, the challenge is going up in front of 5,000 people and trying to hold their attention. I love that. Especially since I know that world - I've done research on pornography for many years.
They told me, "You've got about 30 seconds from the time you get out there to get them. If you don't, we'll probably have to take you off stage because they won't listen. They'll just start talking. They'll be like you're not there." So for two months, I was writing jokes and trying out all my porn jokes in the clubs. And it went great.
My wife didn't want me to do it. Not that she cared about that stuff. She was just, "What are you going to be, the Porn Guy?" I said, "Well, they'll see me on Showtime. It's good exposure." So I brought her with me and everybody from my agency flew out. I rented a house, I put up all my agents. We went to parties all night and had assorted adventures. It was great. At the end of the night, I went to bed with my wife and she said, "So, we're done with this?" And I said, "Yeah, we're done." Nobody should ever have to say to their wife, "Honey, you know Ron Jeremy."