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03/05/2014

Uncomfortable questions with standup comic Steve Hofstetter

UnknownSteve Hofstetter's tag is "Comedy without an Apology". A professional standup comic who began his career as a writer, Hofstetter has "made it" making jokes for more than a decade.

He will be doing two shows on Friday, March 7 at the Hard Rock Cafe in Dallas - 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. He will also be appearing at Strange Brew in Austin on March 8. Click here for Steve's calendar.

You can find him on Twitter @SteveHofstetter. Can't find his Pinterst page, but here is his Facebook.

Hofstetter has five comedy albums, appeared on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and is also a former contributor to Sports Illustrated and the NHL. He was nice enough to answer some uncomfortable questions.

You’re doing two shows Friday in Dallas and one on Saturday in Austin and you leave out of DFW on Sunday? I very often say they don’t pay you to perform they pay you to get there.

How long have you been a stand up comic? I’ve been doing it full time for 12 years. I started when I was a kid - 21 years ago. That’s a terrifying thought.

When did you think, ‘I’ve made this my career and I can support my myself as a comedian?” In a couple of years from now.

Would you tell a young person to enter this business? Don’t do it unless you love it. It’s an incredibly difficult life. You do have to do some terrible things to get to your goal. The love of what you do gets you through that stuff. Every time my car is stuck in the snow or I’m sleeping in an airport, I remind myself that I love it.

Dane-cook-mtv-movie-awards-2007-50Best advice you’ve received? It was from Dane Cook, who at the time I had never met. I was doing a show in Hollywood and I was up first. I thought this was going to be my big chance. There was this terrible table in front that should never have been there.
They were talking the whole time and they ruined my set. They were kicked out right after me. Dane walked up to me and said, ‘You will learn to love it. If this is the worst part of your job, you will realize what a good job you have.’ It’s true. That is a wonderful, wonderful thing.

Worst show you ever did? I did a show where there were actual members of the KKK in the audience. They didn’t know I was Jewish, and I kept it that way. It was a bar gig. A lot of bookers will send out emails blasts that say, ‘$200 for a show in Muskogee.’ I was in Tulsa, so I thought I’d go. Those are the things that make you a good comic. If you can make those audiences laugh, you can make anyone laugh. These guys were in the audience and they had ID cards from the KKK. I did not do my normal set. I did not talk about being Jewish or being political. I decided to just survive the night.

You’re Jewish – do you do humor for Jewish people? I don’t really do that. I don’t tell any jokes that I would not say in a conversation and a joke that I wouldn’t be willing another person to tell. I learned that lesson early.
I did this joke that I thought was a social commentary on being born Jewish with red hair and people thought I was Irish. I talk about the stereotypes.  People thought I was Irish, and people with red hair who are Irish are firefighters. That’s a stereotype.
The joke was, “Mrs Glickman, I’d like to put out your fire but first there is the matter of the bill.”
I thought it was funny and making funny of the stereotypes.

UnknownDo you find that sports provide as much material as pop culture? It does provide a lot of material.  One thing I’m sure you’ve experienced is that sports fans have no sense of humor. I’ve done so many jokes about politics, abortion and religion and it doesn’t bother anyone. I got a death threat once when I made a joke that the Kansas City Royals were never going to win the World Series and you need to accept it. I wrote that in 2006. I haven’t exactly been wrong.
I wrote if your team wins (one title) every 25 years you are above average.

I actually remember that and have since adopted that. You did? Thank you. There was this Tampa Rays fan who wrote me some stupid letter demanding an apology. He wrote a bunch of obscure statistics how the Rays were in first place in this or that. I waited until they didn’t make the playoffs to write, ‘I’m sorry if I offended you. Now could I get my apology?’ Never got that one.

How do you deal with hecklers? The trick is to remind the audience. I made my mistakes early on this. You never learn anything from a good show. There was this guy on Facebook, around 2005, and he would message me hateful stuff twice a day. This was before you could block anybody. I knew who he was and where he lived. I was doing a show in Bloomington, Indiana and he was in the front row.
He was sarcastically laughing at everything, which as a heckler – brilliant. Right away I went after him. I tried to tell the audience the back story. It sounded ridiculous and petty on my part. What I realized from that exchange was you have to give them enough rope to hang themselves. Once the crowd hates the heckler more than you, you can say whatever you want.

3128776046_1_2_otR9ngyLWhat’s it like to bomb? Have you ever had someone dig out your insides while watching? Imagine 100 people are breaking you up with at the same time and failing what you think you are good at. The comics who write jokes and then wait – they bomb. The ones who tell stories and have a point, they aren’t bombing they are lecturing. 

Is comedy angry? The like I like is. It’s taking what could be anger and making it fun. I’ve told you young comics this – if you are not past something emotionally, it’s not going to be funny. If you are still hurt by something, it’s not funny.  You have to be past something to make fun of it.

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