Chris Gethard talks about his new show Career Suicide.
1 Tell us about your Fringe show
Career Suicide is an hour-long storytelling show about my experiences dealing with depression, alcoholism, and occasional suicidal thoughts. It’s very raw and very real and a bit scary for me to tell, but if I may be so bold I’ll also say that it’s really, really funny as well.
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2 How does it feel to be playing the Fringe for the first time?
Playing the Fringe for the first time is so exciting and such an honor, but also wildly intimidating! I’ve always heard that it’s a fantastic experience and overwhelmingly cool.
I’ve also heard that you need to be thick skinned and battle tested and hope things break the right way.
I know a few New York comedians who I thought were really tough who came home early from the Fringe because they weren’t ready to get in the trenches and really fight for ticket sales and reviews and all that. I'm ready to make it happen and put in the work. I’m ready to go down swinging.
I also hear Fringe audiences like to talk actively to comedians during their set, which is terrifying but delights me to no end.
3 Live act most looking forward to seeing at Fringe?
I always love getting to see Daniel Kitson when he comes through New York and I’m very excited to see him closer to his home turf. Also we New York comics tend to be a bit too NYC-centric, and I’m really looking forward to breaking out of that mindset and seeing tons of comedians from parts of the world I’ve yet to personally explore. Plus my wife is a professional aerialist and is already making a list of what circus/dance/physical theater shows we need to see.
4 If you were not a performer/comedian what would you be doing?
I don’t want to be too morbid, but I can safely say with no hyperbole that if I wasn’t a comedian I’d be dead in the grave already.
5 How do you combat pre-gig nerves?
I’ve been doing comedy in New York for sixteen years and can safely say that I’ve bombed in every possible iteration of bombing. There are no new undiscovered forms of bombing for me, so I have the safety net of knowing that I’ve dwelled at the lowest lows comedy can offer. That gives me a weird ability to just not get nervous before shows start.
6 Worst on stage experience?
I was once heckled by a man who was roughly six foot five inches tall. He stood three feet away from the stage eating French onion soup, just slurping up mozzarella cheese and broth loudly while I was doing my act. He kept yelling the phrase “bust a nut” at me. I’m not sure if that expression has reached your side of the pond yet, so to be clear – it’s a synonym for male ejaculation. Having a physically imposing man eat soup and yell that at me wasn’t so pleasant, but I’m happy to say in the end I won and members of the crowd literally chased him out of the venue and on to the New York streets.
7 How do you recover from a hefty heckle? Do you have a set of stock replies?
I don’t have any stock replies for heckling. I’ll also say that I rather enjoy being heckled. I want to be very clear though, I am not inviting anyone to come heckle. It’s just that I started my career as an improviser and sometimes when things go off the rails it feels like I’m in my element. It’s a lot easier than having to remember stuff I wrote and rehearsed and put thought into. So yeah, the last thing I want to do is tempt fate and have this read as a call to arms for hecklers. Hecklers, please, let me do my show. I’ve worked very hard on it. That being said, if it happens, I’m always psyched to put on the gloves and go a few rounds.
8 What do you love about Scotland?
This is my first time coming to Scotland, so what I love most about it is that to me it is a great unknown that I am about to explore.
9 What do you like about Edinburgh?
Again, first time in Edinburgh so the above answer stands.
10 What’s the most Scottish thing you’ve done?
I’m friends with a couple who own a restaurant on the Lower East Side of Manhattan called Eastwood. Great place, if you ever get a chance to go. She’s Israeli, he’s Scottish, and they’ve somehow made a fusion Israeli/Scottish fare restaurant. They serve falafel Scotch eggs, for example. Anyway, once a year they host a Robert Burns appreciation day. The bar fills up, bagpipers come in, my Scottish friend Miles stands on a table and reads the words of Robert Burns, and we all eat haggis. I think for an American who’s never stepped foot on Scottish soil, that’s some Scottish as hell stuff to have participated in.
11 Who’s your favourite Scottish comedian?
While I’m aware Scotland has a ton of great comedians, I’m not going to lie – I’m woefully underinformed about the local comedians working today and am genuinely looking forward to the Fringe as a way to educate myself. That being said, I think Armando Iannucci is a brilliant genius and I grew up worshipping Colin Mochrie on Whose Line. I can’t wait until September, when I’ll have a dozen more current, underground, hip, less obvious answers.
12 Favourite joke?
Louis CK has a joke about sitting in traffic and telling a road raged lunatic to give him back his jacket. I don’t want to type it out, as I’ll butcher it, but you should really look it up. It's the joke that made me fall in love with Louis and I've never forgotten it.
On a less obvious than Louis CK level, I’ll say that there’s a comedian in Denver, Colorado named Zach Reinert who writes some of the best one-liners I’ve ever heard. He has one about standing in a graveyard that I think is a perfect joke. No fat on it. Every word counts. Again, I don’t want to just transcribe another comedian’s jokes, but if you ever get to see Zach Reinert make sure you tell him Gethard said you should tell Gethard’s favorite joke. He’ll know the one you mean.
13 Favourite Scottish food/drink?
Irn Bru! I’m obsessed with soda in general. Currently have two bottles of Irn Bru in my fridge here in Queens, New York.
Chris Gethard will perform Career Suicide at the Pleasance Dome until August 29.