Comedians Joe Klocek (left) and Kyle Grooms (right)
When you're a grown-up you can do shit like eat cake for breakfast with touring comedians, so that's what we did. We talked with San Francisco's Joe Klocek and Philly's Kyle Grooms, who is performing at the Kung Fu Komedy Club this Friday and Saturday. Funny dudes with a lot of stories.
Kyle has appeared on Chappelle's Show, some SEARS commercials, his own Comedy Central special, and at clubs all around the world. Joe has also performed on Comedy Central and taken down hecklers all over the club circuit. This is his third time appearing in Shanghai with Kung-Fu Komedy, where he's just finishing a two-month residency.
It was Joe's birthday, so we met at Whisk to have some chocolate cake. Sorry we don't have any pictures of that cake, though it was pretty good.
On Getting Attacked/Heckled By The Audience…
Kyle Grooms: Yeah I've had a bottle thrown at me, drinks thrown at me…no one's ever hit me. This one guy, he threw a Corona bottle at me and before I could even look at him the security had him yoked up. [He] was [on] a first date.
Joe Klocek: That's good, now she knows.
Kyle Grooms: Now she knows this guy is out of his fucking mind.
SmSh: Have you had similar experiences?
Joe Klocek: Oh god yeah. On YouTube I have a clip of this guy heckling me, and he wanted to come onstage. Eventually he came up and that was seven minutes out of his life he'll regret. It's like, you're not gonna win -- this is what we do for a living. At the very end of it I just looked over and said "do you wanna sit down now?" I didn't even make fun of him I just let him hang himself. I don't catch that vibe here at all. The audience here seems to drink a lot more than in the States, but they listen so much better. Whereas in the States sometimes even if they're not drunk, it's like herding cats. And then everybody has their issue…everything is funny until its their issue..
Kyle Grooms: I got a really good heckler a few months ago. I was at Dangerfield's comedy club in New York, working out material. Some of it wasn't killin'. There were a few quiet moments, and I heard crickets. Like real crickets. And it was some guy sitting on the back wall; he did it again I'm like "where the fuck did you get crickets?" and he goes "I DOWNLOADED THEM!" Son of a bitch downloaded crickets…
On Bacherlotte Parties and Unruly Audiences…
Joe Klocek: In Michigan, there were four bachelorette parties in one show. So I'm just going up there dreading it. For some reason bachelarotte parties always have to have straws with dicks on them, they gotta have wind-up dicks…glow in the dark necklaces of tiny dicks. So I get on stage and they introduce me from San Francisco and because it's the Midwest they're like "you're gay! you're gay! you're gay!" And it's the end of the week and all the week has been dealing with this kind of shit, so I'm yelling at them "I'm not gay, I'm not gay!" and one of the ladies takes a [dick] necklace and throws it at me, and as I'm yelling "I'm not gay!" it lands perfectly around my neck, like a wreath of glowing dicks. And they're all laughing and it's like ok, this is the show we're doing…
Andy: There's a group of American housewives that live in these villa communities, and they come about once every two months, and they're all super rich, and they've been drinking champagne for like eight hours before they get to the gig. They always have an array of dildos with them. They heckle the person that's introducing the MC..
Kyle Grooms: A month ago, I was in Cincinnati, [and] a group of these hot girls came in. It was a birthday so they wanted all the attention on them. So for the opener they were laughing when they shouldn't have been, and the club kicked them out right when I was getting stage and she's like "you're just mad because we're better looking than everyone in here!" So I went in with my set and then I just started slammin' them, because they worked at Applebee's. I said you work at Applebee's cause you couldn't get into Hooters.
At [another] bachelorette party, I was having a good set, I was killing it..they were calm, they didn't want attention, so I did a little hack-ey joke, I go "oh you're getting married, when's the due date?" A hacky friggin joke…And then when I get off stage, the manager is like "the girl you just said that to is crying in the bathroom." Her friends were screaming at the manager "he's not funny! he insulted her!" and they were screaming at the people in line "don't go see him, he's awful!"
But then her husband called my agent and was like "you represent that Kyle Grooms -- you'd better tell him that next time he comes to St. Louis we're gonna lynch his ass and drag him from the back of our pickup truck." The caller ID picked up who he was, I saw him on Facebook…he's some dumpy guy with his wife and kids. She kinda did look pregnant but that's not why I said that. I would never...
On Chinese Comedians…
Joe Klocek: Things took a turn for me when I was hanging out with a Chinese comedian [Storm Xu]. I think Storm's the future. I was telling him "oh i used to go to open mics and just bomb, and I would sit in my car and cry." And Storm's reaction was "you had a car!?" And he was so honest..He's like "why would you be sad?" That puts it in perspective. I'm poor where I come from, but Storm's like "you're rich, why would you be crying?"
On Early Jobs Before Working As A Comedian...
Kyle Grooms: I couldn't wait to work…got my first job at Burger King, I was happy as hell. Got fired haha. I had a sense of pride, like, people were eating my food that I made. I'm the chef. Yeah I was fucking proud.
Joe Klocek: I worked at a Burger King. It was pretty unexciting but in a weird sort of way it was kind of good because it's so regimented -- it taught me just show up, do your job. It wasn't that bad.
SmSh: Have you had any regular dayjob since you started comedy?
Kyle Grooms: Naw once I quit the TV station I've been doing comedy jobs ever since. But I've had writing jobs, commercials and shit like that. Sears, Holiday Inn Express. It was a nice five year run where I was doing a bunch of them. But then the hipster style came in and that meant I had to sit bench.
SmSh: You said there's a lot of hipster comedy in the States now too?
Kyle Grooms: Yeah it's a lot of hipsters…hipster style comedy… "so um…yeeeaaaaaaaaaaa….merrrrrrrrrrrr…so I'm like, I got a chocolate mousse and I'm like, whateverrrrr." And then they'll go onto the next joke.
Joe Klocek: You know Greg Proops? He's got a great comment about hipster comedy -- he said it's twice the setup and half the punch line.
On Air Masks…
Joe Klocek: [picks 3M Mask off of the table] It says "misuse may result in sickness or death."
Andy Curtain: I had it on upside down it nearly killed me.
Joe Klocek: Even the safety stuff is dangerous here. Holy crap, how is there a warning label on a respirator? It's just a filter.
On The C-Word And The N-Word…
SmSh: I feel like you can't say "cunt" in The States…
Joe Klocek: Yeah it's like one of three words that you can't use.
Andy Curtain: When Americans use that word it sounds bad…It's also how you say it. An Irish person could say cunt and you're like, "I didn't understand any of the other words you said."
Joe Klocek: To the rest of the world, it's an adjective, a verb, a noun…
Kyle Grooms: That's what I say the word "nigga" is too. But there's white people that won't even say nigga if it's really actually part of the story. Like, "and then he goes…the n-word."
Andy Curtain: This guy was talking about writing on some show, and he put the word midget in the script, and some guy comes down and is like "you cannot use that word! that word is as bad as the n-word" it's like, no it isn't – because we're saying the word midget, and we're calling the n-word by the first letter…
SmSh: You were saying it's gotten more politically correct in the US?
Kyle Grooms: Yeah it's getting ridiculous, the what-you-can-say-police is just…you've got bloggers that will get outraged over something and they'll try to get people fired. Some teacher just tweeted something where she used the word "cracker" and they fired her.
Andy Curtain: The white people at the school felt the oppression they suffered when they were brought up?
Joe Klocek: I think it's economic - the worse the economy gets, the more people turn on each other. And then I think it's all social media, because the biggest thing people like to be on the internet is outraged. There's people on Facebook every day like "I can't believe this…"
Kyle Grooms: Facebook is so sensitive…
Joe Klocek: And then I think people are afraid to laugh at something. Everyone now is their own censor police.
On Doing Shows In Places Where English Is Not The First Language...
Kyle Grooms: I did a show in Holland, and I do a joke about "the nigga with the glasses." And they put it on their website, my picture and it just said "the nigger with the glasses" But they don't know…
Andy Curtain: They're like "we don't get the joke, but very descriptive."
SmSh: Have you been in front of audiences that just don't understand your jokes?
Joe Klocek: Yeah I've had it here with some American slang/cultural references. Voting - what's that? Awkward.
Kyle Grooms: You'll be killin' and then all the sudden you'll say one joke and…nothing. They don't know what that is.
Joe Klocek: I did a joke that involves an area rug, and no one knew what I was talking about, and I've been changing it now to carpet and it works.
Andy Curtain: When you go to a middle east gig, you should be like "so I was buying a prayer mat the other day…" But it's ok because they put quotation marks, so it's not like they said it. Imagine if you didn't have those quotation marks that's some racist shit haha.
About Weird Gigs…
Kyle Grooms: I did a gig for a religious group, and I was onstage drinking Hennessy and just being a little off. And after the show they said "we're gonna pray for you" and they got me in a circle and put oil on my head and prayed for me. I was in a little dark mood, I'm drinkin' Hennessy at a religious function…
SmSh: I'm really curious about these gigs where you're hired to be the funny character at a party. I've never heard of this world…
Kyle Grooms: I can't do it. I tell 'em naw that's not my thing. My personality is not…"Ayyyyy! ho ho! look at this guy!" They're like "No set, just come hang out and just make people laugh at the party." Naw, can't do it.
Joe Klocek: I got hired once to be a waiter but like, a waiter that's doing everything wrong -- dropping drinks in people's laps, insulting the CEO…And I thought, oh ok, why not, it's just a half hour. And I kept asking them "what can't I do?" [And they said I could do anything] And I'm like, anything?? Don't ever say that to a comic. So at one point i've got all these glasses and I drop them in the CEO's lap, and everyone was so incensed. The CEO wanted to fight me…it was a horrible idea. And then the person who was paying me was there, and he comes over like "we need to talk," pulls me outside, and is like "what are you doing!?" And I'm like, I'm never taking that gig again.
SmSh: What was the pay like for that gig?
Joe Klocek: It was 500 bucks to be an idiot. That's how good the economy used to be in America.
On stealing jokes…
Joe Klocek: It's common but I think people have gotten better.
Kyle Grooms: It depends on what scene you're in. In New York, you can't steal. People will run you out of the town. People know that's this fucking guy's jokes.
Joe Klocek: I feel like that's true in San Francisco too. People will police their own. Sometimes you'll come up with something similar, and you don't even want the accusation so you're like ok i'm not gonna do that. Now everything is recorded and you can literally just go "here's that joke, that's not yours."
Kyle Grooms: In smaller markets people are hackin', stealin' other people's shit. LA they still got a lot of shitty comics. I saw a guy last week like "if you can take a dick you can take a joke." I'm like oh god did you just do that in 2014, and the crowd was still laughing like it was fresh. Are you kidding me? White people do this, black people do that!
SmSh: What are some other faux pas that comedians do?
Kyle Grooms: Coonin'. Straight coonin'.
SmSh: What is coonin'?
Kyle Grooms: There's no real joke, it's just like "ooooooo hoo hoo hoo..ahhhhh huhuh" [sounds like Krusty The Clown] That's what chimps do to be funny.
Joe Klocek: His big closer was he threw shit.
Kyle Grooms: And cheerleading I hate too… "Hey give it up for deez women mane!" I hate pandering. I hate white comics pandering for black audiences.
Andy Curtain: I might need to change up what I'm doing..
Kyle Grooms: I hate anybody pandering. But sometimes I'll perform for a black audience and a white comic will go up like "oh I love black women!" and they're already loving him like "oh you the white boy! you dancin!" and he'll go up and dance to the music. And then I go up there, and because I wear glasses sometimes black audiences look at me like "is this motherfucker gonna read a book?" and won't give me the love immediately, but you gave this fucking hack the love immediately? I have to work for your affection? In the beginning of my career, people would always be like "hmmm…this nigga gonna be funny? This nigga corny."
SmSh: Just because of the glasses?
Kyle Grooms: Yeah cause I look funny but I don't look like I would be funny.
Kyle Grooms performs at The Kung Fu Komedy Club this Friday at 8.30pm and Saturday at 8pm and 10pm. Joe Klocek is performing there on November 21, 22, 28, and 29.