Bryan Callen brings his stand-up to Comix at Foxwoods
You know Bryan Callen:
He had roles as Eddie, who runs the Vegas wedding chapel, in "The Hangover," and Samir, a strip club owner, in "Hangover II."
More recently, he acted in "Ride Along" and "About Last Night," both of which starred Kevin Hart. (Callen says Hart is "probably the funniest person I've ever spent time with.")
Callen's got a movie called "My Man Is a Loser" that's supposed to be released this summer.
On TV, he played Barney's boss, Bilson, on "How I Met Your Mother," and just did a stint as Coach Miller on an episode of "The Goldbergs" about the president's fitness test.
Callen was one of the original cast members on "MADtv."
And on and on his resume goes.
He's also a crack stand-up comic, which is why he's coming to Comix at Foxwoods for a three-night run starting tonight.
During a recent phone interview, he was both funny and thoughtful. Here are some excerpts.
Don't expect Callen to revive past routines when he's at Comix at Foxwoods:
"The problem with comedy is, in a way, it's magic trick. ... I think the reason people laugh is that you surprise them. They think you're going down one avenue, and then you make a left turn immediately. This is kind of a pedestrian way of talking about it, but I do think there's an element of surprise. That's why we laugh. We go, 'Oh, I didn't see that coming.' It works once, man; maybe it works twice. ... As you become more successful (as a stand-up), the bummer is you can't be lazy. You gotta just keep coming up with stuff."
Here's a focus of the new material he's developing:
"I think the theme is negotiating what this word 'masculinity' means. What does it mean to be a man in 2014? I grew up with a prototype, a father who was a Marine, a giant - a giant, who had trouble finding shoes and hats, for God's sake. He had to buy his stuff from Samoa. ... He would disappear for long periods of time - not in a bad way, just his work. He was a very stoic man, a good man but a very kind of tough, tough, 1950s male. ... My joke is, I'll say: my father was built for war, and I'm built for dance. I'm 170 pounds and 5-11. I'm not some giant, 6-foot-4, 250-pound guy, which I wanted to be. I was more sensitive than he was. I was just different. I'm finicky about my food. If he's a dog, I'm a cat. He's a bear, really ...
"(Callen says of his young daughter), she's not interested in whether or not you're some tough guy. Being a father is very, very different."
Callen grew up in various countries - India, Lebanon, Pakistan, Greece, Saudi Arabia - and didn't live in the U.S. until he was 14 and moved to Massachusetts:
"If you want to grow up a patriot, put them in other countries, especially in the developing world. The one thing I came out of all my experience of 14 years living overseas was an appreciation for the United States. What I mean by that is the appreciation for the idea of what the United States is - for example, freedom of speech, a free press, these kinds of things are very important - individual liberties, personal responsibility, the right to your own private property. Those things are very, very important for a society and for a country if it wants to develop and become strong. It's those kinds of things, not the biggest guns. ... Of course, I'm more critical now as I get older and you develop a more nuanced point of view on the world. But when I was a kid, man, when I was 14, if you said anything bad about the U.S. - I was too immersed in examples of countries that didn't work."
Callen has a podcast, titled "The Brian Callen Show," that has reached 130 episodes:
"What I do is, I have a lot of historians on the podcast. I realize that these great historians, like Jared Diamond, who won a Pulitzer Prize for 'Guns, Germs and Steel.' Nobody's really knocking his door down. Everybody wants to talk to Kim Kardashian. But they don't want to talk to Jared Diamond or Charles Mann or Lawrence Krauss, the great physicist. So what I do on the podcast is, I'll call these academics and these philosophers and these historians ... and it's never, ever disappointing. It's always incredibly educational. Why is that? ... If you read the right kinds of books, a book is usually somebody saying: This is what's wrong with the world, this is what makes me angry about the world, this is what I'd like to change about the world. If it's a very good book, then they say: This is how you do it. That's the value of history, the value of educating yourself. And I also think it informs your comedy."
Doing stand-up offers advantages acting doesn't:
"Stand-up is me. I wrote it. Here it is, baby! I'm going to work two hours maybe, and I'm going to sit around, take pictures and coyly accept your compliment. And you'll pay me. That's pretty cool. That's what I like about stand-up. It's me. I get to do it. I have some control. When you're an actor, as long as I've been doing it, there's no rhyme or reason to this business. It doesn't make you feel that good about yourself a lot of times. Because there's no second place. It's cosmetic, too. You might not look the part. Luckily, I'm veeeeeery good-looking, but still. But you lose parts to your physicality all the time."
Bryan Callen, 8 p.m. tonight-Sat., Comix at Foxwoods; $25-$50; 1-800-200-2882.
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