I spoke with CHRIS D’ELIA about his COMEDY CENTRAL Special that is premiering Friday, February 4, about STANKOWSKI from GLORY DAZE and so much more. What a pleasure it was to speak with him and honestly, I didn’t know what to expect but he was incredible. I love his stand-up and STANKOWSKI, so I figured it was a win, win all the way and what he gave me was so much more. We spoke about pretty much everything, his endearing charm, charisma, and astonishing good looks and his ability to rock a side ponytail. Most importantly, I got to poke around in the mind of a gifted comedian and find out what makes him tick and he was kind enough to share with me so I am able to share it all with you. Chris is very bright and intuitive and really understands what works from experience and just having the raw integrity to go for something that he believes in. I could listen to him talk forever. He was of course, incredibly clever and hilarious. I really loved hearing about how it all began for him and what he goes through as an actor and comedian. I hope Chris finds his way to Boston sometime in the near future because we are all being deprived of seeing such a compelling and flexible comic in the flesh. Don’t we suffer enough having to deal with this crap weather, at least give us something to look forward to. Chris was so sweet so don’t miss his special and talk about GLORY DAZE frequently so it can celebrate a second season.
My interview with Chris was amusing before it even began. I was securing a quiet spot away from my chinchillas because they like to bark when they get excited. I figured Chris’ voice would whip them into a tizzy. When I mentioned that to Chris he told me that everyone in Los Angeles has chinchillas and they take them out to Starbucks in bags. I was surprised that people got to take them out because not too many people in my area have even heard of a chinchilla. Just as I was about to buy a one way ticket to California, because I would like to live in a chinchilla world, I realized that he thought I was talking about Chihuahuas. When I mentioned one pound, fluffy rodents, we both laughed. I brought that up because he refers to me as a chinchilla in the interview and that is the reason why. He was making fun of our earlier conversation and answering to my gazelle reference by incorporating a chinchilla into the mix. I hope that clears things up for you but probably not because yes, it got a little weird but not “Your Turn” weird, so I was totally into it. If you don’t know what that means then you should be ashamed of yourself but you can make it all better by watching Chris’ special on COMEDY CENTRAL on February 4th at 11 PM EST on COMEDY CENTRAL.
Lena: Can you give a brief history of your career and how you developed into a comedian and actor and maybe talk about your first gig until now?
Chris D’Elia: I started doing, as an actor, little things in high school. As an actor I would guest star in stuff and then I went to college and I dropped out and then I got in a movie that went to DVD. I had some downtime as an actor so I started writing scripts and I had some people option some stuff and buy scripts from me but nothing really came to fruition. I just got on stage one day, when I was twenty five because I had always wanted to do it. I’ve always wanted to be a comedian but I figured I would be an actor first and work through the backdoor that way but I was struggling so I just got onstage one day. It was my New Year’s resolution to get onstage once a week and then I got onstage January 2nd and I’ve been onstage every day. I just loved it. It’s been five years now and things have been going really well so I feel that I’m a standup comedian that acts as well.
Lena: Do you ever get nervous?
Chris D’Elia: I don’t really get nervous anymore, really. I’ve been in so many situations. I did four hundred and thirty, (yes, you read that right, 430) shows last year and I do that almost every year. I’ve just been in so many situations that as a comedian so many weird things happen that you are just prepared for whatever, you know. I don’t really get nervous but I would say up until a year ago I would get nervous. I would probably get nervous if I had to follow somebody that I really respect or somebody famous, I might get nervous. I generally just feel like I’m going to go up there and do my thing and if they like it great and if they don’t, fuck.
Lena: Have you ever been to Boston?
Chris D’Elia: I’ve never been to Boston, not even once. For some reason it’s that place and Chicago are places I have not been.
Lena: So, that is why I have never heard of you playing around here. I always thought I missed you.
Chris D’Elia: Yeah, I’ve never been to Boston, ever.
Lena: Any plans to come to the New England area, Boston or Providence?
Chris D’Elia: I’m from New Jersey but and I’ve been around New York, obviously and the East coast but for some reason I have never been to Boston. I’ve never been invited.
Lena: You have to come and play a club over here.
Chris D’Elia: I know, they haven’t asked me, yet. I guess we will see. Maybe after the special comes on I’ll start getting more offers to go to different places.
Lena: I hope so. I’ve seen Dane Cook and Robert Shimmel live in Boston. I’m looking forward to seeing your live special on Comedy Central and congrats on that. What can we expect from your special, more accents and possible splits? The physicality in your performance is off the charts.
Chris D’Elia: I talk about different cultures, British gangsters and American gangsters in the special. I talk a lot about my ex-girl and dating. I don’t know what they used and what they didn’t. I did about 35 minutes and they can only use 22, so we will see what they use. I guess I’m pretty physical but I don’t really think about it like that. I never try to incorporate anything physical in my act, when I get onstage it just happens. That is how I’ve always been. I like being physical and mimicking and I think it comes out that way and I don’t know why it does that. Generally, for TV tapings I think I’m more physical because I’m excited.
Lena: Yeah, you are like a gazelle because you have those really long legs.
Chris D’Elia: Oh, that’s hilarious and a good animal to be like.
Lena: I know nothing about that since I am only five feet tall.
Chris D’Elia: Oh my god, then you are like a chinchilla.
Lena: Yeah, I’m so short but at least my butt isn’t that big.
Chris D’Elia: Nice.
Lena: Chinchillas are all butt, their asses are huge. Yes, they are all ass.
Chris D’Elia: Oh, they are. Oh. I am going to have to google image them.
Lena: They are so cute, though!
Chris D’Elia: Yeah, I know they have a cute name, so they should be cute.
Lena: I have to say that you are the king of improv. After watching some of your clips, I am in awe of
how you are able to work with whatever is in front of you. Can you talk about how you are able to do that and your standup personality, in general.
Chris D’Elia: Well, like I said if you’ve been onstage that many times over the course of however many years it just becomes second nature to you and you get bored of your act, so very often, you just start talking about whatever and you ask the audience about certain things. Those videos that they posted at the Laugh Factory, I do that all the time. Sometimes I wish they got other stuff on tape, too. I think there were about two or three of them and those were just some of the times that I have done that. I generally think that since I really do love people that, I really love making fun of them. When I was growing up I was always made fun of and we made fun of everyone in my family and that is how we showed love. I don’t know if that sounds corny or whatever but I really like doing it. It makes me feel like if I’m making fun of you then I enjoy you and I don’t know, I get confidence out of that. I think it just brings everybody together in a way that the regular stand-up comedy doesn’t necessarily do. I get a lot of bits out of it, too. If I just start riffing and if I can get to a place where I can just get creatively free and just start talking about whatever and with no preconceived ideas about what I am going to talk about onstage. I think I know which videos you are talking about. When you are up there and you get to that point, it’s just that you are having so much fun that if you are funny and it translates into people laughing and people having fun with you. I just love to do it. I’ve just always made fun of people. I constantly obsess about what is funny in this situation, whether I am at a coffee shop with a friend or whatever. I am always trying to make jokes and I think that obsession has just turned into being able to do that kind of stuff onstage.
Lena: It is just crazy how you can do that.
Chris D’Elia: Oh, well thanks. I really like doing it and it’s fun and I really don’t care if the crowd is offended and they don’t think it’s funny because I think they’re wrong and I will just keep going and tell them that they are wrong and sometimes that gets them.
Lena: Do you ever do anything scripted or have any notes with you?
Chris D’Elia: I don’t ever write anything down, actually.
Lena: Really, all off the top of your head?
Chris D’Elia: Well, I have bits that I have prepared but I don’t write them down. That’s probably more common with the bits. I know comics that don’t write stuff down. I will go up with a premise and work it out. Sometimes I will go onstage two or three times a night and I will work with the premise until it becomes a joke and then it’s in my head. I don’t need to write it down.
Lena: That is very cool and I wish I could do that. I’m Ron Burgundy, so I need and will read everything that is written down in front of me.
Chris D’Elia: There are comics that do it that way, too. They write it down and just repeat it. That is just not fun for me. I like to be organic and go up there and try to use the situation to make things funny. I just think it’s funny. It’s just more fun that way and every show is different and every show is special that way. So if I go off, even in my special, I think that I went off a little bit. I talk about something. You know it’s funny, it makes that moment in time, that moment in time.
Lena: So, you don’t get to see your special prior to them airing it?
Chris D’Elia: No, I have not seen it, yet. There are a few preview clips online and shit but I have not seen it.
Lena: You would figure they would let you see it?
Chris D’Elia: Yeah, I suppose they probably would of if I had asked but I don’t care. They did ask me what bits I wanted them to use because I went too long but I said I don’t care, whatever you guys think.
Lena: Why didn’t you have an hour special?
Chris D’Elia: I suppose I could have waited and done that in a year or two but they offered me to a half an hour and I said okay. I felt like I had been doing stand-up and I had some material that I was ready to document on TV and then I could just start writing again. I will do an hour eventually but I think a lot of comics are in a rush, dude. Everyone wants to do an hour special and they are four or five years into standup and I don’t get why. I don’t know why people want twenty six year olds that are just like, “I have to get on TV”. I’ve never asked for anything first of all and I just did my show and people showed up and eventually I got “Live at Gotham” a year or two ago. I never asked for it. I don’t think you should ask for it, I think it will come to you when it comes to you.
Lena: I think you should do one with Jon Lajoie. I love you guys. You guys would be perfect.
Chris D’Elia: Oh, I’ve met him a few times since we have the same agent and he’s great.
Lena: Is he nice?
Chris D’Elia: Oh yeah, super nice.
Lena: You guys are the best looking comedians out right now, too.
Chris D’Elia: Oh, thanks.
Lena: When I asked my readers what they wanted me to ask you, the first thing they wanted me to tell you is that you are hot. They also want to know how tall Matt Bush it.
Chris D’Elia: Oh, that is hilarious. Oh god, he’s not as tall as me. I will say that. You know, I don’t know. I will have to ask him.
Lena: I tried to look it up and it said he was 5’10”. I know he is not that tall.
Chris D’Elia: I know he is not 5’10”, I can tell you that.
Lena: He’s taller than me, but everyone is.
Chris D’Elia: Well, I’m 6’2” and you’ve seen GLORY DAZE and we are standing next to each other so you can compare.
Lena: I know, I can’t seem to get the answer out of anyone.
Lena: Where you channeling Brad Roberts from Crash Test Dummies and Hugh Jackman when you covered “Amazing Grace”?
Chris D’Elia: Oh, that’s so funny, why do you say that because I look like him or what?
Lena: You look like Hugh Jackman in that video.
Chris D’Elia: Really, I get that sometimes and I guess that is a good one, I mean he’s cool. Depending on how my hair is I get a bunch of different people. Hugh Jackman is a good one, so I will take that one.
Lena: You have a bit of, I don’t know if this is insulting but when you do your crazy eyes, you have the
Charles Manson crazy eyes.
Chris D’Elia: Oh, yeah. Now I get Charles Manson the most with the beard and the really long hair.
Lena: Okay, so a cross between Hugh Jackman and Charles Manson.
Chris D’Elia: Yes, well at least Charles Manson was interesting.
Lena: Well, Hugh Jackman is flexible. He does the high kicks and that is probably where I am getting that from, too because of your body. You have that very lean and long dancer’s body.
Chris D’Elia: Uh, Yeah.
Lena: Oh, wow I just made you out totally creepy and gay, I’m sorry. (Think Charles Manson’s crazy eyes on Hugh Jackman’s body doing Broadway Chorus Line high kicks.)
Chris D’Elia: Oh no, that’s okay, I will take them all as compliments.
Lena: Yes, they all are compliments. You do have a lovely singing voice, too.
Chris D’Elia: Ha, ha, thanks. That was not my intent but thank you.
Lena: Well, you can do everything. You can act and sing, too. I saw your “Monk” episode (“Mr. Monk Gets Drunk”).
Chris D’Elia: Oh you did. Oh my god, that was so many years ago.
Lena: It was in 2005.
Chris D’Elia: Really, yeah that was six years ago and that’s funny, yeah. I guess I was on “Monk”.
Lena: Yeah, I love “Monk”, I really miss that show.
Chris D’Elia: I saw my episode and a few others and that’s it.
Lena: You got to meet him, obviously.
Chris D’Elia: Tony Shalhoub was one of the nicest guys. He is very accommodating and very nice. It’s refreshing when you see someone that is just really so nice to the guest actors.
Lena: Yes, I did an interview with Tony and he was really sweet. He’s such a big actor and I didn’t know what to expect. It’s usually the lower actors that have not done a lot that are jerks. Have you noticed that, too even with comedians?
Chris D’Elia: Yeah, a lot of comedians are jerks. I feel quite honestly, anybody that has some form of success is nice, at least the ones that I have come across. The guys that are really doing stuff like David Albright and Don Carrera, those guys are all are my close friends. I went up very fast so a lot of people don’t like me because I’ve passed people but I’ve been doing it for five years.
Lena: Your dad’s show, “Harry’s Law” is doing very well. (Chris’ dad is a Producer, currently working with HARRY’S LAW on NBC)
Chris D’Elia: Yeah, it’s doing great.
Lena: Kathy Bates is so nice.
Chris D’Elia: I have yet to meet her but my dad says great things about her.
Lena: That must have been nice having a producer father growing up?
Chris D’Elia: Yeah, it got nice but it was a struggle in the beginning. He started just kicking around like we all do in the beginning. He started doing really well in my twenties.
Lena: He’s been behind some very great shows.
Chris D’Elia: Yes, he has had a great career and I am really proud of him.
Lena: Are you going to guest star on “Harry’s Law”?
Chris D’Elia: I don’t know. That would be cool. We always try to work together, my dad, I and my brother. We always try to work together in some way. I think that the best is yet to come and we will do something together for sure. We tried pitching shows and we will figure something out.
Lena: How would you describe STANKOWSKI’s accent?
Chris D’Elia: That was not even why I came up with that. I actually came up with that like ten years ago with a friend while we were messing around. We came up with these really stupid, kind of surfer type dudes that were stoners. Then I got the audition for “Glory Daze”. We were just making each other laugh with those characters by themselves so when I went for the audition I said, I’m going to do this for that. I thought it was going to be too weird, you know and they were going to be like, okay thank you but they ended up laughing and booking me. Now, it’s so much fun because we play with a lot with the lines of the character in the show.
Lena: My only complaint about “Glory Daze” is that you are not in it enough.
Chris D’Elia: Oh, that’s sweet. You know I was originally only supposed to be in the pilot. Then they made me a regular. The deal that I had was that I wasn’t in two episodes. Then next season, if it comes back, I’m sure I will be in more.
Lena: All of my readers always write to me to tell me how much they love you and that you are their favorite character. You are my favorite character, too.
Chris D’Elia: Oh, that’s cool and yes all fans of STANKOWSKI, that is always good.
Lena: At least you can say that if you don’t get a second season, which you probably won’t because I like the show, is that because you were not on it enough. It seems like everything I like has been cancelled like “Terriers”.
Chris D’Elia: I have a lot of other stuff going on, anyway, so I will be doing something.
Lena: I thought that you got the role because they were looking for a stoner that would look sexy with a side ponytail.
Chris D’Elia: That actually wasn’t in the script in the last episode but we had a table read and then they got the idea about doing that in the scene. They were like, “hey we want to put you in a side ponytail”. They thought that would be a good scene for the last episode of the season.
Lena: Do you incorporate that now into your daily life?
Chris D’Elia: No, no, I would never, ever wear a side ponytail in my daily life. There are some wacky dudes in Hollywood.
Lena: You could get away with it, though.
Chris D’Elia: Thank you.
Lena: Does being heckled just encourage you to go further and just push people’s buttons even more?
Chris D’Elia: Yes, it does definitely, if somebody is going to talk during the show, I told you I love people but if someone is going to talk during the show, all bets are off. You are disrespectful and you know some hecklers are actually very nice and they don’t realize they are heckling and that’s a different story. I will play with them and then I will tell them to be quiet so I can do the show and I get it and it’s fine. I’m a very forgiving person but if you are just really ruining the show sometimes I just kick people out. I just say, you have to leave get out of here. I get the whole crowd against them and then they leave. I’ve had fights break out, not with me but people start heckling and another person will be like, “shut up”. I always find it funny and like I said, I like the situations that spring up and the organic nature of it, the spontaneity of stand-up, but sometimes it gets crazy, dude. I don’t know why or what it is about me that brings it out.
Lena: What is the worst thing that has ever been thrown at you and how did you react?
Chris D’Elia: Just a flyer. No, you know what, somebody threw a pencil at me once. I didn’t even believe it happened. I was onstage and I thought, there is no way that happened. I thought I made it up because who would do that and it was at a nice club and it was in the middle of the country. When I got off stage the guy I was featuring a long time ago, Jo Koy said I think someone threw a pencil at you. I said, I thought I so.
Lena: That’s it, nothing that crazy? I thought you would win over any rock star that I have ever interviewed.
Chris D’Elia: Oh, are you talking about panties. No, nothing that ever cool.
Lena: I have a list of things that have been thrown like dirty tampons and actual fish.
Chris D’Elia: No, nothing cool like that but I don’t know how cool dirty tampons are. Nothing cool like that, man.
Lena: No underwear, really?
Chris D’Elia: No, let’s get that going.
Lena: Do you really want people’s dirty underwear thrown at you, though?
Chris D’Elia: No, eh.
Lena: Especially, I don’t know when I go into a place, I really like to keep my bra and panties on so perhaps they are bringing extra with them, maybe?
Chris D’Elia: Yes.
Lena: So that is it? I just thought that a stand-up comedian would be able to top the list of things thrown at them onstage.
Chris D’Elia: Yeah, I know.
Lena: Do you have any television or film projects in the works besides, hopefully, another season of “Glory Daze”?
Chris D’Elia: I’m developing my own show for COMEDY CENTRAL where I play an alien that comes down to earth and tries to save my alien race because we are all sterile. I’m on an episode of “Workaholics” on COMEDY CENTRAL in April. That is about it besides my special on the 4th on COMEDY CENTRAL.
Lena: I miss “The Sarah Silverman Program” on COMEDY CENTRAL. The second season was so funny and she is so nice.
Chris D’Elia: Yes, I actually just talked to her for the first time a few days ago.
Lena: Any comedy tour plans in your future? Please tell me that you are coming to the East coast soon?
Chris D’Elia: I’m just doing a few colleges. I try not to go too far and stay in town for auditions and stuff like that. I would love to do a Boston show, that would be fun. I hope to hit the East coast, I love New York. No plans, as of now.
Lena: Really, that is so sad. Speaking of tour plans, will you be touring Germany anytime soon?
Chris D’Elia: Ha, ha, I suppose you are saying that because of my bit, well I don’t know. I get some Germans that hit me up online. They want to know when I am coming to Germany.
Lena: So, they actually like you? (I think they just want to bake him a Birthday cake.)
Chris D’Elia: Yes, I think so. I get a few obviously that say that’s not how German’s are. Yeah, well, it’s a joke, you know. Some of them love it.
Lena: It is pretty funny. They can be creepy and they always sound so angry, so I agree. What is life like on the road as a stand-up comedian?
Chris D’Elia: It’s lonely. That is why I try to stay in town when I can. You are in the middle of nowhere and the only reason why you are there is because a crowd of people come to see a show once or twice a night. Besides that, you are just looking for the Starbucks. You are alone up there in your hotel room with some weird feature on the road. They always want to go out and get some drinks.
Lena: Do you get a tour bus?
Chris D’Elia: No, I’m not at that level, yet. I just fly in and out.
Lena: You could always rent a mini bus.
Chris D’Elia: Yeah, I suppose you are right.
Lena: Any funny stories from the road?
Chris D’Elia: To be honest with you, I don’t do it all that much. I did go out on the road with Jo Koy and he was a lot of fun to be with. He’s a cool guy and a good friend of mine. Outside of that I’ve opened for a few guys but I don’t really have any. It’s so funny that you think that people throw panties at me and that I would have cool road stories. It’s just weird to be thought of like that because I just hang out, dude.
Lena: Well, I had to ask and I figured it was true because tons of people have written to me just to tell you that you are hot. Pretty funny but I told them I could not set up any dates.
Chris D’Elia: That’s cool that people know who I am and that my name is starting to get out.
Lena: Yes, GLORY DAZE has definitely helped. Didn’t you win a SEXIEST MAN ALIVE award on that show?
Chris D’Elia: Yeah, we would vote after every episode on who the sexiest guy was in the episode and it was always me. It was mostly because I was, (coughing) in charge of the voting.
Lena: Well, you are the best looking one on that show.
Chris D’Elia: Ha, see, I told you.
Lena: Well, you are and now I’m as creepy as my readers are that write in to tell me how hot you are and about possible dates. Actually, the older frat guys are the best looking ones on the show.
Chris D’Elia: Well, they will grow up and then I will be too old.
Lena: Yeah, I’m not into the jock guy, I prefer someone that looks like Hugh Jackman any day.
Chris D’Elia: Thank you.
Lena: He gets voted Sexiest Man Alive every year with Johnny Depp.
Chris D’Elia: Yes, yes he does.
Lena: Would you like to add anything else?
Chris D’Elia: I just want to say thank you to the fans and to everyone that supports me. It’s so nice to get all of these messages online and emails. It’s really humbling when they recognize me and when they see me and say that they love my show. It’s just really sweet. I just want to say thanks.
Lena: Do they do the accent back to you?
Chris D’Elia: No, actually, maybe once or twice that has happened. People are always writing to me and telling me that they do the best STANKOWSKI impression but I have yet to hear it.
Lena: It’s a pretty different accent with a mix of a lot of stuff.
Chris D’Elia: Yes, I don’t know what it is.
Lena: How much are you like STANKOWSKI in real life?
Chris D’Elia: I am nothing like STANKOWSKI. I don’t even smoke weed. I actually have never smoked.
Lena: Ah, I knew it. I figured you were going to be completely clean.
Chris D’Elia: Yeah, I am nothing like him. He has the worst outfits.
Lena: Oh, I don’t know. He has some kind of cute stuff.
Chris D’Elia: Oh, you are so sweet to think so but I don’t think so. I would never be caught wearing that stuff.
Lena: Well, he has to leave the house sometime, right?
Chris D’Elia: Well, he hasn’t, yet.
Lena: Maybe they will bring him out in the second season?
Chris D’Elia: I hope so, I hope we have a second season. I just want everyone to check out my special on COMEDY CENTRAL. I’m excited for everyone to see it.
**CHRIS D’ELIA COMEDY CENTRAL SPECIAL PREMIERES FEBRUARY 4th AT 11 PM EST ON COMEDY CENTRAL. DON’T MISS IT BECAUSE CHRIS IS AWESOME!**