Julian McCullough scored his first half-hour Comedy Central Presents in 2010. In the years since, McCullough has not only racked up several late-night TV credits, but also a unique relationship with E!, moving from the panels of Chelsea Lately to sidekick on Whitney Cummings’ Love You, Mean It, to his own short-lived talk show with Annie Lederman, We Have Issues.
In the meantime, he has grown as a comedian, and started to finally become more comfortable revealing personal and intimate things about himself in his stand-up. Which plainly shows in his first hour special for Comedy Central, Maybe I’m A Man, premiering tonight.
“There were a couple of things I was holding back for a long time in my stand-up career,” McCullough told me last weekend between shows at Comedy Central’s Clusterfest in San Francisco. “It takes a few years to get so comfortable and stop taking yourself seriously, and feel like I can make almost anything funny. There are comics who get out there right away and are like: ‘I was molested when I was a child!’ in their open mic days, and you’re like, ‘Maybe hold off until you’re real good at jokes before you do that.’”
For McCullough, the revelation that he withheld the longest onstage was about a tattoo on his tummy. That’s something plenty of comedians would have jumped onto early on, baring their belly for the laugh of it. Why did it take you so many years?
“A big reason is because I started in New Jersey and then got into the (Comedy) Cellar back when it was like the Tough Crowd table. And I would’ve rather gotten shot in the face than show those guys that tattoo. To show Patrice (Oneal) and Keith Robinson and Colin Quinn and all those guys — if they knew I had that tattoo at that table, I would’ve gotten un-passed at the Cellar. So I was hiding it for a long time. I’m embarrassed about that, but I had to. There’s no way. And then eventually, I just got confident enough where I was like, I gotta tell this story on my terms. Because eventually everybody’s going to know about it, when I do my shirtless sitcom.”
Was that easier or tougher to divulge that onstage than your crushes on Prince or on a teen-aged Pizza Hut employee? “Oh, definitely the tattoo.”
I’ll let you find out for yourself what it is, exactly, and why. “It sounds like I’m making it up, but I had it on my body for 15 years.”
That’s had, as in past tense. Spoiler alert: You see it on the Comedy Central special, but not any longer. “I got it covered. With a way manlier tattoo.”
He recorded Maybe I’m A Man at the Microsoft Lounge in Venice, Calif., because he liked the unique look of it as well as the intimate size. “It’s like an old surf shack in Venice that was rehabbed to look awesome.”
In addition to his embarrassing tattoo and his love of Prince, you’ll also hear McCullough tell stories about his jazz-loving, psychedelic-dabbling father, moving from Philadelphia to the West Coast and then back to New Jersey, and this tale about his short-lived stint in construction work.
Julian McCullough: Maybe I’m a Man, premieres tonight at midnight ET/PT on Comedy Central. The full special will be available tomorrow in the CC App and on CC.com.