Doug Benson will perform with Sarah Silverman and Todd Barry tonight at Carnegie Hall as part of the New York Comedy Festival. Big deal, right? No worries for Benson. "Even if half of the people laugh at the joke, that’s still a lot of laughter," he said.
And he figures they’ll laugh. Why? "I’m the sixth-funniest comedian in the world. They did an international search!" he said. Benson, of course, is referring to his participation in this year’s edition of Last Comic Standing. He also ranked highly with members of the comedy message board, A Special Thing, ranking #8 among working comedians on their latest poll. "I got an exciting move up on that one," he said. "I jumped from 14th on that one."
Not that it really matters to him. "I don’t know why anything needs to be compared. But people love to do it. I contribute to that with all of my participation on all the VH1 shows. People like things in a nice orderly fashion. What am I going to do? Somebody puts me on a list. So be it. I can’t say anything about it…When I won ‘Stoner of the Year’ for High Times magazine, I don’t understand what that process was at all, three or four guys getting baked and picking a name."
So it wasn’t a poll or a contest, then? "I think they picked me specifically. I don’t think it was random. I just don’t think the readership got polled…I guess Seth Rogen won it this year so I’m in pretty good company."
When and where do you tend to write your best material? "There’s no specific place or time. It just sort of happens. I’ve always got tons of scraps of paper in my pocket that I scribble things down on. I’m not one of those comedians who says I’m going to sit down and write stuff."
I’ve heard more than one person allege that you’re at your funniest when you’re not delivered prepared material, anyhow. Do you agree with that? "Sometimes I might come up with something during a show…especially if it’s a tag to an existing punchline. But there’s some jokes that once they’re written need to be told over and over again…The thing that’s fun with live comedy is the spontaneity of it. When I’m out on tour with Sarah, we’re both not going to ignore it if somebody yells something weird out from the auedience…hecklers can kind of ruin a show or make a show…which is not to say I’m encouraging heckling. I’m just saying it’s going to happen whether I encourage it or not. And sometimes it can turn out to be good, that’s all."
Do you have any memories of past NYC gigs that stand out? "No. Not really. This will probably be the one. The next interview, I’ll probably say Carnegie Hall."
"Well, one time I had to follow, it was very late at night and I was at the Comedy Cellar and I had to follow, Chappelle was onstage and Chris Rock jumped up and joined him, so it was Chappelle and Chris Rock riffing for an hour, and then I went up and said, ‘You got to see Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock and me all in one show!’ They chuckled and pretended to pay attention for a while until I was done."
"Out in L.A., the occasional Seinfeld or Dane Cook will jump in and jump right on…but it doesn’t happen as much. And clubs don’t go until 2 or 3 in the morning like New York clubs do. It’s not a late-night kind of town, it’s the city that sleeps quite a bit."
What’s made you laugh recently?
"Oh, I just saw, last night, I want to quote it correctly. I just saw a scene from a low-budget horrible horrible horror film that was hilarious. It was called ‘Black Devil Doll From Hell’ and it was about a black ventriloquist puppet that comes to life and the scenes that I saw was the puppet, it kind of started out as rape, but eventually she liked it, so I dont know how that, if that falls under consensual or not, but it’s crazy. I dont know if Netflix has it or not."
What’s coming up for you? More Super Deluxe videos, perhaps?
"We’re going to do a series called ‘I Love Movies,’ which is a continuation of the stuff I wrote for bobanddavid.com and the podcasts. And this documentary I did which premiered at the Woodstock Film Festival a few weeks back. A distributor is going to put it out in the spring, it might be in theaters or might go straight to dvd. It’s called ‘Super High Me.’ It’s with pot instead of McDonald’s."
And then, of course, there’ll be more appearances on VH1, including the "Best Year Ever" special next month. "One of the segments will be me re-creating the drive that Lisa Nowak, the crazy astronaut lady — I just replicated her drive from Houston to Orlando and we shot the whole thing in an adult diaper. It was pretty interesting. I know now why she wanted to go direct from Houston to Orlando without stopping. There’s some scary folks in that part of the country."
That’ll be fun. Less fun, Benson says, is seeing himself on outdated VH1 shows that still get repeated time and time again. "I did the 100 hottest hotties, which they still play occasionally. It’s got me talking about Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston like they’re still together!"