As the Comedians of Chelsea Lately airs its final special this Friday, it was the perfect time to talk to Josh Wolf, who, with his trademark backwards baseball cap and quick wit, is always a welcome sight on the round table and this week it’s his turn to get a chance to show his stand-up act. Wolf talked to me recently about how fans responded to seeing him shirtless, his reaction to Adam Sandler turning dramatic in his latest film and which reality show he would love to compete on.
Jim Halterman: Where did you grow up and how did you end up telling jokes for a living?
Josh Wolf: I grew up in Massachusetts and I got into telling jokes because I was 16-years old and I was a wise-ass kid and my Dad was like ‘If you think you’re so funny and you want to be such a wise-ass…’He basically took me to this open mic night to try to beat the wise-ass out of me and he threw me onstage. He and my Mom were sitting in the front row so the only thing I knew at 16 was how much my Mom and Dad farted so I told Mom and Dad fart jokes for about 7 minutes and my father was like ‘Ah! I tried to humiliate him and look where he is!’ I kind of caught the bug from there.
JH: So you eventually left Massachusetts for the comedy scene in LA?
JW: I really started doing comedy in Seattle and did it there for a couple of years and then I moved down to LA and here is where I really cut my teeth.
JH: Who did you admire growing up in terms of comedy?
JW: Bill Cosby and Sam Kinison and Carlin. Carlin, Kinison and Cosby.
JH: Did you know Chelsea before you started appearing on her show?
JW: Oh yeah, we’ve known each other for years. We started doing comedy around the same time in LA. Years, years, years! I don’t write on the show I just do the panel on the show about once a week
JH: Last year Chelsea Lately did a shirtless round table and if you didn’t know you had a gay following you probably did after that!
JW: I heard a rumor! You know, when we did that I wasn’t sure…you know, they asked me to do it and I was like ‘Oh, boy…” And the funny thing is they said they wanted me to leave my hat on and they’re going to tape the mic right to my chest so it’s going to be funny. So, as long as we’re going for funny and ridiculous, I’m in. I got a few shirtless autograph pic requests. My response was always, ‘Do you really think I have a shirtless picture of myself? I don’t have a stack of them anywhere.’
JH: I think that’s how we know you’re straight because if you were gay you’d be handing them out to everyone.
JW: [laughs] Did you see the picture of Guy [Branum] holding me in Mexico? I think I get more comments from that than for anything else.
JH: I talked to Guy recently and he said about you, and I quote, ‘that torso is ridiculous.’ Has he been as vocal to you about his appreciation for your attributes?
JW: He told me a couple weeks ago, ‘I get jealous when you’re doing the panel and I feel like you’re flirting with other gay men.’ I said, ‘Guy, you know you’re the only guy for me.’ And he said, ‘I want to let you know as long as you can continue to have the definition of your torso that you’re the guy for me.’ [laughs]
JH: That’s definitely a gay man’s response.
JW: I think he is hi-larious. Did you hear him do his stand-up?
JH: I did. He was much fun!
JW: I love that he addresses the audience as ‘Audience!’
JH: Speaking of stand-up, tell me about your act on Friday’s show.
JW: I mostly do just straight from my life. My life right now has a lot to do…I’m a pretty straight-forward – say-what-I-mean kind of guy. I have a pretty strong point of view but it all has to do, right now, with my kids. People think that a lot of my comedy is inappropriate because of how I talk about my kids but I am as honest as I possibly can be. Right now, that’s what I’m focusing on.
JH: You act as well, right? I saw you on My Name Is Earl.
JW: I had a recurring role on Earl. I’m doing Chelsea, I’m doing the stand-up and I travel a lot and I just sold a movie to Adam Sandler’s company.
JH: Congrats! What can you tell me about it?
JW: It’s based on a true story about a group of kids in 1963 that are on a traveling baseball team and their coach uses the team as cover to rob banks at every town they go into. It’s a true story and the lead detective on the case, his son plays shortstop for the team so it has a little Catch Me If You Can and Bad News Bears mix of those two.
JH: I was looking at your MySpace page and you said that some of your favorite movies are early Adam Sandler. I just saw Funny People and loved the dramatic side of Sandler’s work. Have you seen it?
JW: I saw it and I think it’s unfair how much they’ve been bashing him. I thought he was good. Who am I to say because obviously Judd Apatow may be the most successful man in Hollywood. Maybe it was 20 minutes too long but I thought Adam Sandler was fantastic. I thought he was funny in it, too.
JH: And when he did the dramatic stuff, it came off very natural.
JH: I love when Jim Carrey does drama stuff.
JW: Except for the talking ass. It doesn’t get funnier than that.
JH: And I heard you love your reality shows…
JW: I don’t mind seeing people humiliate themselves.
JH: If you could pick one to be on, which would you be on?
JW: I definitely couldn’t do Survivor because I like food too much and I love showers. That would be the deal breaker for me. As soon as people started stinking I’d be like ‘Vote my ass OFF!’ What else? Amazing Race… You know what? I pick Dancing With The Stars! I think of the comics on there and Jeffrey Ross didn’t do too well.
JH: Maybe you could change that?
JW: Yeah, I’ll start taking some lessons right now! I’m going to start putting my bid in.
JH: Can fans look forward to another shirtless round table anytime soon?
JW: I’ve been lobbying for it but I don’t think they’re going to do another one. I’m ready! We have to go grass roots!
The Comedians of Chelsea Lately airs this Friday at 10:30 ET/PT on E with Josh, Jen Kirkman and Chris Franjola performing. For more on Josh Wolf, go to http://www.myspace.com/josh_wolf.