“Nobody ever tells you you’re supposed to be a human. They tell you you’re supposed to work, but they don’t tell you that you also need to work to stay sane and happy.” Joe List knows a thing or two about working, and about working to stay sane. After an early career in Boston and later New York, when Joe admits he felt frustrated and entitled and was drinking too much, Joe gave up the booze and learned to set goals. And boy, has he met (and readily surpassed) those goals in the last few years. He’s made appearances on Letterman and Conan, released a Comedy Central Half Hour, filmed for both Comedy Central’s This Is Not Happening and Roast Battle, and is about to put out his second album. He’s also got a great podcast with his pal Mark Normand (Tuesdays With Stories) and is happily engaged to fellow comedian Sarah Tollemache.
List releases his second album, Are You Mad At Me?, on Friday July 15. Recorded at the Helium Comedy Club in Buffalo, NY, “Are You Mad At Me?” dives back into List’s insecurities and anxieties with a new recorded hour of gigantic laughs. His previous album So Far No Good can be heard often on SiriusXM Radio and List is a frequent guest on SiriusXM’s Bennington Show and on Robert Kelly’s podcast You Know What Dude.
In honor of the upcoming album release, Amy Hawthorne caught up with Joe as he ran between spots at Stand Up New York and The Stand to talk about, well, life.
On Being a Human
“I like a lot of time away from comedy. I like going on vacation with my family, I go to an astronomical amount of sporting events, I go to the movies a ton and a lot of concerts. I’ve been to 32 Pearl Jam shows. I go to the gym, I love a good steam. I think it’s important. I want to be a good human being, husband and friend. I like to live. Comedy is funny. I say ‘I take time off from comedy’ but my friends and my fiancee are comics, so I’m still hanging out with comedians.”
Joe’s Spectacular Instagram
“I take a lot of pride in my Instagram. It’s my favorite social media… social medium, I should say. I just always liked photography and looking at good pictures. I like, generally, quality art. I like good movies, good pictures, good music. And of all the art forms, it seems like the one that’s easiest to be good at. I mean, I’ve watched a lot of good movies and know what a good movie is, but I couldn’t make one myself. And no disrespect to real photographers, but I think the key is having a pretty good camera and living an interesting life. And I think I have a general understanding of composition. I never studied, but I’ve looked at a lot of good photographs.”
Tuesdays with Stories Backlash
“We don’t get much anymore, I think we’ve been doing this long enough we’ve whittled those people out. I think most people understand we’re being silly and we’re good people and we just like to joke around. But we did get one guy today who wrote we’d gone too far, we were just plain offensive and then called us retards. Which I thought was hilarious.”
“There’s a lot of people who get publicly shamed and that’s a thing that’s been talked about a lot, but when you buy a ticket to a show or subscribe to a podcast and hear something you don’t like and then take it out of context and blast it to the masses… of course that sounds terrible! But in context it was funny! I don’t like the feeling of hurting people’s feelings, I don’t like when people are upset with me. I mean, I’m not gonna not say whatever I want to talk about, but it’s definitely a hypersensitive time. What I really don’t don’t understand is going so far as to go after someone’s livelihood.”
“We’ve actually gotten a couple of really thoughtful responses. We say “gay” a lot because it’s kind of a running gag Mark started where you throw it in like, “I’m running, I’m sweating, I’m starving, I’m gay…” which is just such a comical way to me to come out, if you just did it in the middle of a story as an aside. So we just think it’s such a funny bit, we’ll do that a lot. And it’s just a funny word and we both grew up saying it. So we had a guy send us a thoughtful email being like, “Have you guys considered saying ‘gay’ a little bit less? I have a nephew who I think would love your show, but I don’t want him to think that’s a negative word.” So it wasn’t some guy saying we were horrible people and homophobic, he was just asking for some consideration. I wrote back to him why we think it was funny and it turned into a really good conversation.”
Making Progress in Comedy
“I feel good, I have a savings account with money in it and I’m headlining on the road, which is a dream come true. I draw enough people that it’s touching to me, but nobody in the industry cares. It’s really great how many people listen to the podcast and really seem to like us. We mentioned we like to eat at Chipotle and we’ve probably received something like a thousand dollars in gift cards from listeners. I’ve really gotten to do a lot of cool things recently. I’d also like to mention that Ari Shaffir is a savior and a mensch and a wonderful man.”
And in closing, Joe List wants everyone to remember, “Be nice to each other and don’t get so upset when people say things you don’t like.”
Pre-order Joe List, Are You Mad at Me? on Amazon.com.