Hair Balls wanted to do a little background checking before talking to comedian Josh Wolf so of course we headed to that fountain of all knowledge, Wikipedia. Imagine our surprise when Wiki identified Wolf as an "American journalist who was jailed by a Federal district court ...for refusing to turn over a collection of videotapes he recorded during a July 2005 demonstrations..." The entry goes on to say that Wolf spent 226 days in jail, longer than any other American journalist for protecting source material and even went on to run for mayor of San Francisco.
Well damn. He always seems to be in a pretty good mood when he's on Chelsea Lately or doing standup somewhere. Maybe prison agreed with him.
Hair Balls: So Wikipedia says you're a journalist with a prison record. Was that before or after you started doing standup?
Josh Wolf: Yeah, that's me. (Laughs) It's funny, right? That guy got his Josh Wolf page up before I did, so now everyone who looks me up, gets to read about him. But actually, I like the idea of people thinking that not only am I comic, I'm an activist, too.
And that you ran for Mayor of San Francisco.
Oh, yeah, I'm a jack of all trades. I was hoping that there was a Josh Wolf that was a famous mechanic or something. That way you would know I was funny, I worked with my hands, plus I was an activist.
Before we start talking about your show here in Houston, it's our duty to point out that on your MySpace page, you have your upcoming Dallas concert listed but there's no mention of your Houston gig. What's going on there? You're not prejudiced, are you?
No, no! I had the Houston concert listed when I was coming in last month, but I had to cancel because I got sick. Then it never got put back on. And to be honest, I get most of my news out through Twitter and Facebook so my MySpace page is just kinda laying there.
Because stepping into the Houston/Dallas rivalry wouldn't a good thing.
Oh, I lived in Texas for five years, I went to school in San Antonio, so I understand that [Houston/Dallas] rivalry very well. But you have to remember, that Dallas show is with other people. I'm doing the Comedians of Chelsea Lately tour there. In Houston, it's just me. For Houston, I'm bringing just me.
You're going to be recording a DVD while you're here.. Why did you pick Houston?
I've played in Houston a bunch of times and I really love the crowds. I think the idea of the recording is to get the best crowd. A lot of people want to go for what the theater looks like, or what the location looks like. To me, that's not as important on camera as the people that are there. Nobody who's home watching cares that it's at Radio City Music Hall. Now the people who are there, they think it's cool, but hopefully you're reaching more people than just the people who actually went to see it.
Lots of comics say we're a good town to play in, but then they go back to their hometown to their live recordings. Most people do this in their hometown.
What can I say? I'm a jet-setter. That should have been on the Wikipedia page, too. That wasn't on there?
We didn't see it ...
Honestly, Houston just has good laughers, it's friendly. It's good for comics, straight out. Sometimes you get good energy from a certain city or a certain part of the country. And Houston is good for comedians. And I'm not the only comic that's said. I've heard it down the line. Comics like to play Houston. I could have done this anywhere but I chose Houston because the crowds are so great.
Bob Newhart and Josh Wolf -- that is the best list I've ever heard in my life.
What new material are you going to be doing for your show at The Improv?
It's a couple year's worth of material, but for Houston, actually, this will be all new. So anybody who's seen me before has never seen any of this stuff. And I also do half the show in Latin. That's also new. So it's educational, and also, hopefully funny.
Are there new themes that are showing up in your act? We've had a couple of elections, Michael Jackson died, that tall Kardashian sister got married.
My show only changes because my life changes. I'm more of a storyteller, and I talk about what's happening in my life. I don't hit social or political stuff too much. When I see Leonardo DiCaprio stand up and talk to me about, "Go Green," it makes me want to throw up in my mouth a little bit. Not because I agree or disagree with him, but that's not our job. Our job is to entertain.
I'm like everybody else. I live in the gray, I don't live in black and white. What y'all are gonna get from me, is exactly what I'm thinking.
One of the things that's really refreshing about your appearances on Chelsea Lately is that you're willing to make yourself the butt of the joke; you're not just always laughing at someone else.
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I think that's really important. I grew up with three older brothers, so I learned to dish it out and take it, both.
Lots of your humor has to do with your home life. What does your wife think about that, knowing that anything that goes on at home is fair game for your act. Does she sometimes tell you, 'You can't use that.'
Well, anytime my wife says that, I say, "Hey! You like that car you're driving? How about the food that's in the fridge? You like that? Okay, well, then that joke's going in." When I equate it to making a living, it seems to make more sense to her.
Josh Wolf will perform at The Improv Houston, 8 p.m. Wednesday, November 18. For information, call 713-333-8800 or visit www.improvhouston.com. $17.