Tim Dillon talks to us about his two new specials, heading to 2018 JFL, and PC culture in the current comedy landscape.
Tim Dillon is a standup comedian, writer, actor and podcaster. Currently based out of New York City, Tim was featured at Montreal JFL’s New Faces in 2016. He won the title of New York’s Funniest 2016 at Caroline’s NY Comedy Festival, and in 2017 he was named of the top ten comics you need to know by Rolling Stone magazine. Never afraid to speak his mind, Tim is a frequent podcast guest and hosts his own show Tim Dillon is Going to Hell. We spoke with Tim as he was preparing to return to Montreal for a series of shows at the 2018 Just For Laughs Festival.
The Interrobang: You’ll be back in Montreal and performing at the Just For Laughs Festival for a few days.
Tim Dillon: I’m doing a show I’m co-headlining with Janelle James. She’s very funny; we met about 5 years ago at an open mic in New York City. This past year, we had the chance to record our Netflix specials together in New Orleans. It’ll be really fun to headline this run of shows up in Montreal.
The Interrobang: It’s good that you guys have a little bit of history together, but you two seem a little different comedy-wise. Do you think that will bring in a pretty diverse comedy crowd?
Tim Dillon: Yeah I think so; I think we’re two different comedians with two different styles. I think if you go to see a show, especially in a place like the Montreal Comedy Festival that’s exactly what you want. I think you want to see as many different types of Comedy as you can. I think people going to JFL are real comedy fans. They’re not there just to see celebrities; I think they are really looking forward to seeing people that they haven’t seen before. People that go there really love comedy, and it’s a great surprise when you come across somebody that you hadn’t really heard of and then you become a fan.
The Interrobang: Then those new fans can help spread the word.
Tim Dillon: Yeah that’s what we love as comedians. People may discover certain acts, and they become your fan then they get to tell other people about you. I think people really like turning one another on to something that they really don’t know about, Whether it be drugs or a sexual position or a new comedian.
The Interrobang: Why you think it sometimes takes so long for people who are in the business for a while to be discovered even though they’re well known in the comedy community?
Tim Dillon: Right now there’s so much out there in terms of content. There’s literally too much out there. A lot of it’s very distracting… go through Netflix and it’ll take you a half an hour just to find something to watch. Just think of all the comedians that are out there… all the different platforms, it might take awhile to stumble on some people that are legendary. There’s legendary people that been doing it forever, but people are still discovering them.
The Interrobang: At JFL, you’re also doing a taping for The Comedy Network… Canada’s Comedy Central. Do you know if they are planning on airing it right away?
Tim Dillon: I’m not sure how it works or when it’s going to air. I think it’s going to go well, and I hope the people in Canada like it. I mean people barely watch American television so I don’t know who’s watching Canadian television… I guess Canadians.
The Interrobang: At least it’s being taped, so something additional is going to be out there to promote you.
Tim Dillon: Well, I think comedy is really a live thing. Taping a special… well that’s great, but you got to be in the room. That’s what it’s about…go out- leave your house. Go somewhere and watch a comedian and enjoy it. It’ll never be like it is on a special, it’s meant to be seen live. The energy never fully translates to a special. You can have the best special in the world, but it’s still 10 times better in the room. We shouldn’t lose that element of comedy; I think that’s what sets comedy apart from other art forms. Other art forms translate much better to mediums like film or television… but with comedy, I think its rawest form is its best form. I think people that go to JFL get that and that’s why they try to see as many shows as they can. Also, don’t you want to go out and experience the rest of the community? Whether it be in a comedy club in your city or like Montreal where we’re doing shows in these beautiful theaters. I did a show with Big Jay Oakerson up here at this place called Cleopatra’s which was an old strip club, and the venues are just too cool. They have a history, and a lot of amazing people have performed at those venues. I think just the idea of being in a place and hearing a new comedian for the first time is an experience that is never going to be replicated by turning on your television while you’re sitting on the couch.
The Interrobang: While you are at JFL are there any other shows that you plan on checking out or anything else that you’re excited to do?
Tim Dillon: I’ll probably check out the New Faces show. I did that 2 years ago and it’s always a great show. I don’t know who’s doing it because they usually keep it hush-hush, but I’ll probably have some friends there. So I’ll try to go and support them. Other than that I’ll try to find as many famous people as I can and try to make them like me.
The Interrobang: You were recently part of the Netflix comedy showcase series “The Comedy Lineup”, do you know why they chose this series to feature you, rather than one of the other showcases like “The Degenerates” or “The Standups”?
Tim Dillon: In Netflix’s eyes, I’m relatively new. So I think people that have not been on their radar, they wanted to give the 15-minute sets to, and some of the people they’ve known for a longer time were going to get the 30 minutes on the other showcases. So when this show debuted, I think it was the perfect fit. I’ve gotten positive responses, and most people like it… so that’s great. I’ve seen some uptick in social media. It’s great because it’s going to be out there on Netflix and will be something that they will just have out there forever. It’s a cool place to have something where people can see it and discover it.
The Interrobang: You also have your first Half Hour special premiering on Comedy Central in October.
Tim Dillon: Yeah that was cool… I shot that in New Orleans. It was great to go down there and shoot, the crowds were great. Comedy Central really knows what they’re doing, and they really know how to shoot stuff. The food in New Orleans, other than New York, is the best food in the country. I spent an extra day there after the special just because I like it so much. It was the first special I shot, so it will always be special to me. This is, of course, a different set then what is currently airing on Netflix.
The Interrobang: Every comedian has several other things going on besides stand up. You’re also a well-liked podcaster, whether it’s on your own podcast or co-hosting on another show.
Tim Dillon: I’m always trying to figure out how to be funny in different ways. I love podcasting; one of my favorite things to do is my own show Tim Dillion Is Going To Hell. I also love podcasting with Luis J. Gomez on his show The Real Ass Podcast. That’s always a lot of fun. Essentially podcasting is hanging out with people you know on air. It doesn’t get much more fun than that.
On my show we just like to mix it up and make it more interesting. We have some really interesting people on the show that don’t really get that much attention in the mainstream media. We go out and try to find those interesting people… CIA agents, people who have written books on political blackmail. We had Mark Galeotti, a guy who just wrote the most definitive account of the Russian mafia on the show. It’s an hour of your time, and the best part is at the end of it, you come out smarter. We always try to do that on our podcast. Obviously we have comedians one like Bonnie McFarlane or Bob Kelly, but we also try to get people that really have something to say… like documentary filmmakers or politically based authors or people that have been involved in intrigue. We had the director and mother of Johnny Gosch from the documentary film “Who Took Johnny”, the first kid on a milk carton. It’s a crazy documentary about human trafficking.
We did an episode on Trump and Russia before it hit the mainstream media. We were talking about these transactions 6 months before it went to the media. It’s crazy that we live in a time where my co-host Ray Kump and I can grab microphones, and find a journalist who has done the work on this… bring them in and have a full conversation months before the mainstream media is on it. That’s why I love podcasting and that’s why it’s taking over… and that’s why the mainstream media is in trouble. So other than just having fun, we have some really crazy stuff going on. All the episodes would be perfect for a road trip. There’s a lot of really funny episodes, and also episodes where you not only get smarter, but your whole perspective with things will shift and change.
Also, I do a show on a tour bus in New York City every now and then which people really like. I used to be a tour guide, so I run a double-decker bus with about 60 people and take them on a comedic city tour. We do it every year for the New York Comedy Festival, and try to do it a few times throughout the year. Who knows… we’re always trying to play around with the idea of doing something with that. Trying to find an exciting live show, and find out how that translates to television or a special.
The Interrobang: Do you have a concern about PC culture seeping too far into the comedy community or comedy festivals?
Tim Dillon: I think there are waves, and when you are in a wave it’s hard to imagine that there will be anything else. You’re in it, and it’s happening, and it seems to be permeating everything. But generally these types of things… where moments have been pretty intense, they sort of abate. Particularly with what’s going on in the world, I think this is a reaction to a very divisive president. The people are very upset about that, and they’re trying to figure out what to do to resist that type of language or atmosphere. I try not to think of any of these things as forever, there are moments where this is a very understandable reaction. I think in the framework of the current presidency some of the reactions are understandable.
The Interrobang: There have been some comedians recently vocalizing what they feel the comedy landscape should be. I know your view differs… you recently had some opinions on Hannah Gadsby who is receiving the JFL award for “Comedy Special of the year”.
Tim Dillon: I’ll answer that honestly…Hannah Gadsby had the special of the year. Whether you love it or hate it. I’ve been pretty open about my thoughts regarding some of the things she said. I didn’t enjoy it… it wasn’t for me, but that doesn’t really matter. However, there is no argument that her special is probably the most talked about comedy special in a decade. She really got a huge reaction, and there’s a lot of people that love it, and there’s a lot of people that think it’s the future of comedy. But there’s a lot of people that push back against that idea; saying that comedy doesn’t have to be any one thing. And that’s my issue… that comedy should be many different things. My concern is that when somebody says “hey, this is what comedy should be and will be, and if you don’t like it get out of here”… that’s where I get frustrated. And I get a little angry because I love comedy, and I’m like “who the hell are you to tell me, or anyone what comedy is supposed to be.”
I can’t think of another special that has really started a debate, or conversation like Hannah has. I think it’s legitimate. I also think the politically correct thing on both sides has really been overdone. I think the reality is comics are performing comedy all the time. They get feedback from audiences in real time… all the time. And I think audiences are really the ones that set the standard of where the line is. You’re trying to do well, and they tell you what is too far. So I don’t think you need this whole industry of bloggers and writers and selfish comedians who tell you what you can and can’t talk about, because audiences actually do that in real time.
Tim Dillion can be seen as part of Netflix’s comedy showcase series “The Comedy Lineup”. Tim’s first network special will be appearing on Comedy Central in October. Tim Dillon’s Podcast “Tim Dillon is Going to Hell” is available on the Gas Digital Network & everywhere podcasts are available.
To See Tim Dillon at the Montreal Just For Laughs Festival check hahaha.com for times and tickets.