Perhaps it’s not his fault, Joe is after all a second generation comedian. Much to his parent’s dismay at the age of twenty, Joe went into the family business. Straight away he was chosen College Comedian of the Year at the Las Vegas Comedy Festival and shortly after he made the move to New York City where he could be on stage every night.
Aside from the outrageous rent, rodents and 4AM wake up calls for his day job as a personal trainer, NYC proved to be exactly what Joe needed to grow as a comedian. Paying his dues at any club that would give him the mic, in just a short time he was working at some of the best rooms in the city including the famed Caroline’s On Broadway and Gotham Comedy Club. He was nominated “Best Up-And-Coming Comedian” at the NYC MAC Awards, was a finalist in both the prestigious Johnny Carson Great American Comedy Festival and Boston Comedy Festival and was part of the feature film Stand Up 360.
Just as comedy was taking off big time, Joe became a father. Unbeknownst to him this would not only take up every free second of his life but perhaps the biggest catalyst for his success. Becoming a dad gave Joe a new level of comfort in his role on stage and screen. Unconventional as always, Joe didn’t take on the traditional role of dad but rather he says he is simply a “man with a baby”.
I spoke with comedian Joe Larson this week. He has a new comedy special out, he’s a man with a baby, and he’s headlining Sandman Comedy Club this weekend. We spoke at 5:30 on a weekday. Here’s our conversation:
Gabe: You had a new special come out recently?
Joe: I had a special come out recently. A Dry Bar special. Which was a lot of fun. That was called Champion, named after my closer. Well, my closer at the time. No longer in my closer, but it was a really fun special. I shot it in Provo, Utah. So, it’s squeaky clean, but my shows aren’t always squeaky-clean. You know, I tend to go PG-13 to a soft R. So I don’t go raunchy ever, but we have a lot of fun.
Gabe: Did you record that before the pandemic?
Joe: Yeah, it was like February.
Gabe: What was that process like? I know a lot of comics came out with their specials over the past year, because it’s material sitting there and it’s already recorded.
Joe: You know, that’s one of those questions. You go like, ‘how long do you sit on it?’ Because there’s also things in it where it’s like, ‘this won’t be relevant if it comes out too late.’ I had some jokes about disease in New York City, and after COVID-19, all those jokes are completely different, and aren’t relevant anymore. The special had to come out. We dropped it pretty quickly, and it had great response. It’s got millions of views on online and it’s been great for me. I wasn’t able to capitalize it on the road. But as far as Pandora and satellite streams and things like that, it was a really great experience.
Gabe: Did you write your bio on your website or did someone else? It’s almost whimsical.
Joe: [laughs] It is whimsical. I’ve got a manager who, when I wrote one, she was like, ‘No, it’s too jokey.’ And then she toned it down, and I was like, ‘No, that’s cheesy.’ And then I turn it over again. I have a great manager who I love very much who’s very good at taking the BS that I produce and making it look palatable, or actually speak how it’s supposed to be spoken.
Gabe: So you refer to yourself as a “Man with a Baby”? Not quite a dad? Maybe more?
Joe: Absolutely, absolutely. Cause here’s the thing: ‘Dad’ is sort of like a connotation for ‘Mom Assistant,’ and I didn’t want to be that. I guess ‘Dad’ used to be the guy who made the money and didn’t hang out with the kids. And now it’s like “Mom Assistant.” Dad’s an idiot, but he helps out with whatever. And I was like, ‘No, no — I want to do dude shit with my kid.’ You know? I don’t want to be a dad. I want to be a man with a baby, so that we can do man stuff with the kids. Like, the other day, I rented a car for this gig because I had to leave my car at home with the family. And so I pull up with this little rental car. This tiny… it’s just a little go-kart of a choice, and my kids are like, “That’s a me-sized car.” And I was like, “You know what? It is. Get in. Let’s drive.” I sat them on my lap and they got to drive all around the neighborhood. A hundred percent illegal. Not a mom-approved activity whatsoever. A man-with-a-baby activity.
Gabe: That’s rad. Do your kids think you’re funny?
Joe: Yes. And they like the idea of comedy. So, they’re always trying to make jokes too.
Gabe: That sounds fun.
Joe: Yeah, it’s super fun. I was working a cruise ship and my family came aboard. My daughter, at the end of the show, is like, ‘Can I tell a joke?’, and I was like, ‘You know what? why not?” And she walked on stage at the theater. There were a thousand people in there, and she told a joke and crushed it.
Joe: Yeah, it was great. The joke was, she goes, “What did one math book say to the other math book? We’ve got problems.”
Gabe: Nailed it!
Joe: Just killed it. It was great. It was a proud Dad moment.
Gabe: Were you in tears? Could you come back on stage? Like, what happened there?
Joe: Oh, I was out there with her. You know, she got, like, a standing ovation and walked off, and I was like, ‘Okay, kid. It’s never getting better than that. Quit show business. Time to be an accountant.’
Gabe: Was that was that the last joke for the night? Did you have to pick up the rest of set, like the last ten minutes?
Joe: We closed it on that. That would have been terrible, if I had to try to try to jump off the most adorable kid in the world. Telling that joke. Come on.
Gabe: [Laughing] Anything you can tell us about the show at Sandman Comedy?
Joe: I’ll say this: I am bringing with me with an opener. I chose her. I picked her out myself. I do some work with Anjelah Johnson, she does as well. And that’s how I met her. She is from Virginia Beach. She is one of the funniest women I’ve ever seen. And I’m so excited to have her work with me. I’m so excited she can open for me and I’m so excited to try to have to follow that. Because she is a beast. It’s going to be so much fun. Miss Kristen Sivills. She’s amazing. So it’s a fantastic show through and through, I mean, it’s two Headliners for the price of one.
Joe Larson was a lot of fun to talk to, very laid back and a really funny guy. You can catch him doing shows at Sandman Comedy club with his VA Beach feature, Kristen Sivills, all weekend at Sandman Comedy Club. Shows start at 7 and 9:30, Thursday through Saturday. Come an hour early for food and beverages. Tickets are available at Sandman Comedy Club.