We’re familiar with underground music and art. You’re known for underground comedy. What’s that?
There’s a whole indie comedy scene that followed the lead of indie music—a bunch of venues for people who don’t want to take the traditional stand-up track. It gets kind of trippy and weird, like what college radio and Black Flag built.
How does the stand-up material about growing up in New Jersey play in other states?
People not from here have a fascination for this mysterious, aggressive place. When I mention growing up in West Orange, someone always claps. No matter where you go, there are people from New Jersey in the room.
We love that you’re so loyal.
I’ll shout from the hilltops about how amazing this state is. If people want to have a bad word, I’m ready to have that chat. And it’s probably not going to just be a chat.
Are you ever concerned about offending people with your comedy?
Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Richard Pryor… they offended people, but dealt with the consequences. If I say something that pisses people off, I’ll own up and try to figure it out. The positive is that so many things are being exposed now. Within a couple years, we’ll look back and ask, ‘Why did any of this seem divisive?’ The pendulum will land in the middle, and it won’t seem outlandish to say, ‘Black people don’t want to get killed in the streets and women don’t want to get groped.’ That’s not particularly revolutionary.
You’ve done a lot. What are you most interested in pursuing from here on out?
I want to continue to say honest things, represent myself and the things I care about well. I have a 2-year-old son. The pandemic’s been awful, but he and my wife and I have dinner together every night. Usually I’d be out doing shows. So in a perfect world, I’d keep doing my existing podcast. And if Jersey rallies around New Jersey Is the World, then I can make a big chunk of my life about celebrating the place I love.
What’s your perfect New Jersey day?
Breakfast at a diner—French toast, vanilla Coke and some other random thing. Jump out to Hacklebarney State Park with my son. Lunch at Jimmy Buff’s in West Orange. I’m a vegetarian, so a potato sandwich—a giant roll with deep-fried potatoes—and a bottle of Yoo-hoo. Then down to Asbury, pinball at the Silverball Museum with the kid, walk through some big abandoned buildings—very Jersey, big buildings just falling apart. Then there’s some show happening, maybe at the Stone Pony or Asbury Park Brewery. Double back to Orange for pizza at the Star Tavern. After dinner, I drive out to Boulevard East, look out from the cliffs in Weehawken, and go, ‘I lived on that side of the river for a while. I don’t need ya anymore. I’m back.’