Joe DeRosa didn’t intend to release his one-hour Comedy Central special, You Let Me Down, the same week as his good friend Bill Burr’s new Netflix special. DeRosa’s new hour debuts tonight at midnight.
“It’s a real shitty coincidence,” DeRosa joked on the phone with me earlier this week. “I don’t want to compete with one of the greatest comedians of all-time right now.”
And it’s even more of a shitty coincidence, then, that DeRosa jokes in this hour about everyone who rises to the top of his or her field of work becomes evil and rotten. “I don’t include Bill in that!” DeRosa assured me. “When I say that I’m talking about the upper one percent” of business, politics, entertainment, and everything else. As he tells his audience during the special: “We live in Hollywood. You know what I’m saying is true.”
Despite his friendship with Burr, Burr’s rabid love of sports hasn’t rubbed off on DeRosa. He doesn’t understand why anyone reveres it, joking onstage “maybe it’s because I’m not good at it.” Even if he enjoyed athletic skills, he probably wouldn’t enjoy watching sports on TV. Even the Super Bowl. Even if he’s watching the best of the best. “Do you know how few people can do astrophysics? I don’t want to watch it for three hours on a Sunday! It’s boring dork shit to me.”
What excites DeRosa remains the more darker supernatural aspects of our lives and deaths. He not only explores that in You Let Me Down, but decorated his stage with drawings from comics illustrator Brahm Revel customized to tie into DeRosa’s punchlines about serial killers, death, dating and anti-depressants. “I wanted an homage to Night Gallery, the Rod Serling series (NBC from 1969-1973), which is one of my favorite TV shows of all time,” DeRosa told me. The opening credits and some of the other camera shots, which the comedian directed, also pay tribute to Night Gallery.
He recorded this hour in October, just before the election.
And he’s as surprised as anyone about what’s happened since then.
“I made a joke in the special about how we shouldn’t be able to Tweet at the president, troll my way into the president’s head,” DeRosa told me. And now we have President Donald J. Trump more active on Twitter than anyone could, would or should ever wish the leader of the free world should be ranting in 140-character outbursts. “Chances are, each of us will be Tweeted to individually by the president?!? What the fuck happened? Where are the boundaries anymore? I’m blown out of my fucking mind! All my life people have accused me of being cynical…’Told you so, you fucks!’ I told you so.”
“For everyone who said I had a rotten outlook of the world, look at where we are now.”
DeRosa’s back catalog of stand-up comedy albums, after all, includes “The Depression Auction,” “Return of the Son of Depression Auction,” “Mistakes Were Made,” and “You Will Die.”
“I will say, on a positive note, I am inspired by the marches and the movements that are happening right now,” he added.
Even if, at the same time, one of his other jokes in the special – wishing that punching people in the face were more commonplace again – actually seemed to come true, too, with white supremacist Richard Spencer’s suckerpunch video going viral. “We’re overly celebrating that there was no violence at these marches, which was a good thing, but we’re also watching an alt-right white nationalist getting punched over and over, and I loved it. I loved it. Look, I think we all should be able to express our opinions freely, but you’re never not going to get me laughing by seeing a guy getting punched in the face for saying something crappy.”
There’s a line or two in his new hour suggesting we’ll have to rethink domestic violence if we really want to treat women equally to men, but from there he pivots toward the double-standards of topless laws, and also reminds us that we have eHarmony and Bumble as options to Tinder for online dating for a very serious and reasonable reason. You have to weed out the creeps, the psychopaths and the sociopaths. Not that you can ever rid the world completely of them. Just try to find them and arrest them before they kill. “This shit is not going anywhere. We should accept it.” He has. “Crazy is just another way you can die.”
The trick, he seems to suggest to his audience, is tampering the propensity for people to become more evil via social media mobs and fake news and fake scandals, as well as the ability for people with ego and clout to get away with almost anything.
How he deals with it, he jokes? Prozac. DeRosa jokes he doesn’t trust anyone who claims to be sane without medication, nor anyone sober who claims to have never been drunk. In fact, DeRosa was picking up his Prozac prescription at the pharmacy while on the phone with me. He joked that the current craziness in domestic and global affairs makes him feel drunk or drugged, even though he’s not. “I don’t know how I am not drinking right now,” he told me.
How should the rest of us deal?
“I have so many thoughts and opinions, and even my own thoughts and opinions are contradicting themselves at times,” DeRosa told me. “Many of us, even if we supported Trump, are in agreement that he’s operating without a façade like no president ever has, and at the worst, is terrible terrible for the globe. It’s not a great situation to be in for obvious reasons. My take is what it’s always been…it’s unfortunately not the ending of something promising. It’s the awakening of how shitty things have always been.”
He jokingly warns we “don’t want to end up in a Demolition Man situation.” So as an alternative: “We can treat each other with tenderness and kindness,” he told me. “That’s what I’m trying to do. Smile a little more. Be better at the small talk.”
So far, so good.
Joe DeRosa: You Let Me Down premieres at midnight on Comedy Central. It’ll be available Saturday on cc.com and in the Comedy Central App. The extended and uncensored album released by Comedy Central Records will be available for digital download on Feb 7 via iTunes, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Google Play, Spotify and all other download and streaming services.