Kurt Metzger may be the nicest and most reasonable person onstage and off, who simultaneously is joking about things and using language to which many strangers might take offense.
Perhaps he truly is “White Precious.” That’s the title of his first hourlong stand-up special, which debuts tonight on Comedy Central and already is available unedited and longer via CC: Direct, iTunes, Amazon and elsewhere.
Metzger is so affable, in fact, that hearing him mistakenly identify someone’s gender, discuss the applicability of the c-word, child beauty pageants, and mosques near 9/11’s Ground Zero within the first 15 minutes finds you rolling with laughter instead of roiling with displeasure. Toward the end of his special, he publicly apologizes. “Did I apologize for these jokes already?” If anything, Metzger is the one who’s worried. When he gets on the phone with The Comic’s Comic earlier this week (before he learned he’d earned an Emmy nomination for writing Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer), he’s fretting about a joke he made in the special about Alaska, seeing something on Facebook that was similar to it.
He put a lot of stress and sweat equity into making “White Precious,” but the end product is quite smooth.
“It’s really very stressful. But they were very cool with producing, the process of it. But, yeah,” Metzger told me.
Why so stressful, though? “Just trying to make it good,” he said.
You’re almost as worried about joke overlapping as Dave Attell is.
“Well, nobody fucking stresses like he does. He’ll call up and go, you know your joke about clown farts? No, I never had a joke about clown farts,” Metzger said. “One joke I had, Tom Rhodes has a super-similar one, that I found out about way too late. I wrote a Facebook post about it. I had no idea he had such a similar line to mine. But he was cool. It was embarrsassing. Even the title, I heard Chris Rock said in Grown Ups 2 said white precious or Kathy Griffin said white precious somewhere.”
Here is an animated clip of Kurt Metzger’s bit on child beauty pageants from “White Precious,” which certainly you haven’t seen anywhere else before:
It’s really just a matter of the waiting being the hardest part for Metzger.
“When we shot it to when it comes out, it’s eight months, so it’s a lot of time to worry about stuff you fucked up,” he said.
And it took a while to even put the special together. “A couple of years,” he said. “I remember getting the contract for it, but it kept getting delayed, which was good. It allowed me to get better. One time they wanted to delay it. One time I did. I’m glad that I did. Not doing it too soon never hurts. It’s always good to have more time.”
Having “White Precious” on TV and available to buy should get Metzger some more dates at comedy clubs on the road, he hopes. “I’d really like to be able to draw (an audience),” he said. He had to prepare much of the hour within 15-to-20-minute spots in New York City showcase clubs. “I haven’t really been a road warrior with it,” he said.
You almost could have seen a lot more of him this summer on Last Comic Standing. After winning best joke of the entire seventh season of Last Comic in 2010 (and handed a bronze chicken trophy during the primetime TV finale), Metzger auditioned again this year. But blink and you missed him. Any regrets?
“I threw my old bronze chicken away. I broke it up and threw it out,” Metzger said.
He said the show reminded him of the perils of reality TV.
“I did it because I thought I could get some PR out of it. But then I didn’t even get out of the first round. I’ve got a bug up my ass about it, but it’s really my own fault. It’s my own fault,” he said. “It’s on me. I knew what it was when I got into it. Yeah. I should have not done it.”
He’s also done some TV, both behind the camera and in front of it. He was a voice on the short-lived Comedy Central toon, Ugly Americans, and has written for and appeared in sketches for both seasons of Inside Amy Schumer. He also wrote this spring for a new VICE talk show hosted by Jim Norton, as well as Sundance TV’s The Approval Matrix with Neal Brennan.
“You have to do a bunch of shit to be visible. I’m not a hot comic. So I have to do whatever I can,” he said.
What makes someone a hot comic, do you think?
“One is to be young. Being young helps you be in demand. Plus you could just do good jokes,” he said. “I think Louis CK was talking about it in something. It’s not like being an athlete. Once you age, you’re getting better at this job.”
Besides: “I don’t have other things going for me.”
It’s comedy or bust.
Earning an Emmy nod for Inside Amy is a cherry on top of what already was a sweet gig. “Amy’s show, that’s such a choice writing job. Every aspect of that is the best possible scenario,” he said. “But in general, I don’t want to write for things. I just have to for the money.”
And if his friends are involved. Such as Rory Albanese with Neal Brennan on his show. Or Norton on his VICE pilots. “I really loved that. Hopefully it will work out. It was really fun. We’re editing it now,” Metzger said. “There’s a guy Jim brought in when we shot to work on the monologues. Because I didn’t work on the monologues. He had Jesse Joyce and another guy…that was pretty enjoyable because I have a similar sensibility to Jim…that was really cool.”
What does having his first hour mean to him?
“To me, it means road work. I don’t know what it means in the grand scheme of things,” he said. “You just go to do everything. I do. I don’t think there’s a single make-or-break thing for me. It’s very rare — the holding deal — where you do the one thing. I have to throw shit on the wall.”
Sometimes that’s literal and figurative, when it comes to his Facebook Wall.
“I use it to work out jokes, so that’s really the whole point of Facebook for me. I’m too lazy to finish them. I need approval halfway through. It’s not even a coherent thought. I need a thumbs up to go ‘You can do it!’ And then I write a full sentence,” he said.
For a while this spring, however, his normally busy Facebook posting schedule had slowed to a crawl while he worked on his TV writing.
“If I’m putting a lot of shit on Facebook, I either don’t have a job or I do have one and I’m procrastinating. But I cannot fuck around. I don’t even have a good work ethic. There was just a lot of pressure on me to do two things. I also get hot and cold with it. I get manic with it. So I’ve been on the downswing on my mood with it. Who gives a shit? What’s the point?” he said. “I post a lot of shit at once. One time I posted so much stuff my sister asked me, ‘Are you OK?’ So yeah, I’m hot and cold with it.”
He’s cold with using Facebook as a dialogue with new fans.
“I’m not concerned with my free entertainment I’m giving out on Facebook,” he said. “I’ve gone out of my way to try to lose people on there. Fucking unfriend me. Well, there you go. There’s never been a better time than now. I really need only 300 people on there for my purposes. Thumbs up. It’s eight pounds of shit in a 3-pound pack.”
For promotion of “White Precious,” he’s going back to his roots a little bit — “I wrote these brochures. They’re almost like Jehovah’s Witnesses’ for the hour. They’re going to send them around.” Metzger grew up in Jehovah’s Witnesses, but left the church at 21. “They’re kind of funny,” he said of his promotional brochures. “The graphics. Some kind of vague religious jibberish.”
But now, he’s off to Montreal for two separate weeks of shows at the Just For Laughs festival. Then it’s back to a third season of writing for Inside Amy Schumer in September. He also just sold a script to Comedy Central with Nikki Glaser and Monroe Martin. “I don’t know when I start writing that,” he said.
In the meantime, you can join the more than 563,000 followers of Kurt Metzger’s “Race Wars” podcast with Sherrod Small and Kaytlin Bailey.
Here’s another clip of Metzger from “White Precious,” talking about the economy.
Buy Kurt Metzger: White Precious, the full unedited version now on CC: Direct or these fine outlets:
Earlier: Meet Me In New York, Kurt Metzger