Up Next, Dave Smith: A Look Through the Lens at New York Comedy

All photos by Phil Provencio

Today comedian and podcast host Dave Smith releases his first hour special. It’s called Libertas, and Smith’s hour is sure to create a stir because as you’ll see during the special, he has a different approach to some of today’s popular political comedy topics. Neither left wing nor right wing, Smith has something to say about everyone. Smith’s hour is the first for GaS Digital which until now has exclusively hosted podcasts including Part of the Problem, which is Smith’s own platform to expound upon current events, our government, foreign policy, and all things Libertarian. Dave is also the co-host, alongside fellow comedians Big Jay Oakerson and Luis J. Gomez, of the Legion of Skanks on GaS Digital

The hour was recorded at the Triad, a beautiful theater on New York’s Upper West Side and was produced and directed by friend and LOS co-host Luis J. Gomez, who also picked the release date of September 11th. Whether you’re a member of the Smarmy Army, or the Davy Navy, or new to all things Dave Smith, you should check out his new hour. In celebration of the hour, Phil Provencio spent the afternoon with Dave at GaS Digital’s new studio digs, and took these great photos and talked with Dave about politics, comedy, and New York City.

Go to gasdigitalnetowork.com to watch Smith’s debut hour special and to check out Legion of Skanks and Part of the Problem.


Photo by Phil Provencio

“We live in cartoonishly hilarious times. The most profoundly hilarious time ever. And no one wants to laugh at it because they’re also dug into their stupid position.”

Dave Smith on His Political Philosophy and what Libertarianism means to him:

People get so lost and bogged down. I think sometimes it’s just really hard to gain perspective. And I think I was lucky enough to read the right people. With things like– Democrats and Republicans– and you know, something about a transgender bathroom– these are all distractions. It’s nonsense. This isn’t the big picture. The big picture of humanity has always been the struggle between Liberty and Tyranny. It’s all throughout human history. The main fights are all about Liberty vs Tyranny. It’s like slavery– and it’s like you know, like “why are the Nazis wrong?” It’s because they’re killing people. They’re really violating people’s rights. I mean this is what it’s all about.

And to me, Libertarianism is very, very simple. It’s the non-aggression principle. That’s all it is. The whole non-aggression principle is that you shouldn’t be violent to peaceful people. So you shouldn’t initiate force. We all accept this in our lives every single day. And being anti-war —  I’m anti-murder. That’s what you should be.

And if there’s mass murder of hundreds of thousands of people– what’s a bigger issue than that?  So, you go “what are the major problems?” and it’s not, by the way, the major problems aren’t that Trump said something offensive yesterday. Despite what most people think. The major problems are that we’re in the longest wars in American history, that we are in the highest debt in human history. That we incarcerate more than anybody else in the world. We spy on all of our own people. You know what I mean?  Record high government spending. But all of these problems are the fact that the government’s far too big, doing far too many things. And the reason why we’re such a successful country is because we limited government, historically. We were like “Congress shall not do this” and “will not do that.”

On the Future of the Libertarian Party

The Libertarian Party is a nightmare and they’re probably not going to be the vehicle that gets us anywhere. But the philosophy of freedom– it’s got to come from the culture and then go into politics, you know. So it’s got to come from like the culture rejecting this goofy left-wing stuff and rejecting the goofy right wing stuff– like rejecting all of it. It’s like, no. Obviously, you know like the right wing and they’re not a bunch of Nazis. By the way, this is what the left wing gets wrong. Their problem is they praise the military and the police and the state way too much. That’s way too nationalistic and that’s stupid. And that needs to go. But then on the left wing, – I mean just the obsession with race. And I will say just the blatant hostility toward white men.

Photo by Phil Provencio

Dave Smith on Growing Up and Living in New York City

Well I grew up in Brooklyn, Park Slope; Brooklyn born and raised and lived in New York City my entire life. Brooklyn is a drastically different place from the Brooklyn that I grew up in. When I grew up in Brooklyn, people in Brooklyn were from Brooklyn. Go to Brooklyn now, no one’s from Brooklyn. When I was a kid if you walked down my block and asked 20 people in a row “where are you from?” you would get 20 people saying “Brooklyn.” And now you’d be hard pressed to find one.

I think the city wears on your soul.  The older you get in New York, it wears on you more. I think there’s something poisonous about it. I think it’s bad for your soul. Like how many times a day can you just pass a homeless person and just do nothing? What does that do to you? Usually, you pass another human being who is laying in a pile of their own shit and filth and you’re like you’re like, “I should stop what I’m doing today and try to help this person?”. That’s what a human being should do. But instead, I’m literally like this: “I’ll just ignore you.” I don’t know if I’d want to raise kids here, you know.

I think I’m a pretty happy person. I have my miserableness, but I think I’m better than I’ve ever been. And like I have a great girlfriend now, so that helps a lot. Me and my girlfriend got a place a few blocks away. So we’re moving in together; we’re excited about that.


Photo by Phil Provencio

On Finding Politics and Becoming Political in His Life and in His Comedy

[Growing up] I wasn’t super political. My mother and my stepfather were always informed, and they’d be watching the news, but I never really cared about politics that much. I was kind of a left wing kid because I grew up in that environment. The Ron Paul campaigns are really what got me. I found him to just be like really, really intriguing and he made me want to read his stuff and then I started reading his stuff. It was like “oh my god, this is so utterly rational.” It’s so reasonable. And it made sense. And then I just started reading a ton of stuff and I just kind of became obsessed with it. That was it for me.

Why Dave Has No Plans to Enter Politics

To me, the highest aspiration is like Carlin. I want to be a stand up.  I don’t see anything beyond that. I want to talk that shit that I love to talk.  I love doing stand up comedy. I love talking about these ideas and talking about politics. I don’t have any political aspirations. I’m disgusted by that system. I would never want to be a part of that. And you know like, I came into comedy and I was a huge fan of…when I first started comedy, of Patrice O’Neal and Dave Attell, and Big Jay Oakerson, Kurt Metzger. Those were the guys I watched.

This stuff just comes out because this is me. This is what I am obsessed with. And I think in the special, I’m trying to put out a hilarious comedy special. I’m not going “let me convince you on the free market.” I think that what comics do best is call bullshit. And so that’s what I have the most fun doing is just calling bullshit.


Photo by Phil Provencio

Dave Smith on Where We Are Now, and What’s Coming Next 

We’ve been so comfortable in America and lived at such a high standard that people almost feel like “well, it can’t happen here.” But I think it can, and even the whole Trump moment. The Trump moment kind of lets people know “hey, this shit’s real.” You want to have a Jerry Springer culture? You’re going to get a Jerry Springer President. You can’t separate these things. You know like in the 1950s. You have a culture that is…everyone reads novels. Like your average factory worker will read novels for fun on the weekend and that you get President Dwight D. Eisenhower. And today what everyone wants is Jerry Springer, and you get President Trump. Andrew Breitbart said this. Politics is downstream from culture and you see that like all of a sudden gay marriage has like 51 percent approval rating amongst the public and all of a sudden politicians are coming out like, you know I’m for gay marriage! Don’t forget they follow us, you know. And so that’s where we are now.

I think America is headed for a breakup and.. these United States are not going to be united that much longer. If you were sitting in 1970 and you said I think the Soviet Union is going to break up, that would have seemed crazy. I just.. yeah, I look at the fact that we were far too– I have a bit in the special about this– the fact that we’re far too extended militarily.

I’m not super optimistic about millennials who will jump on board with something like Bernie Sanders. I mean it’s just really, it’s really hard for me to be optimistic about that. You basically have kids of yours, 2017 at a college campus. Have some fucking perspective. You are amongst the richest, freest people who have ever existed. You are at the pinnacle of privilege and you get all worked up because a billionaire should be picking up your college tuition. It’s just ridiculous. It’s utterly ridiculous. And these kids who lecture everybody else about their privilege…like everything has to fit into either white privilege or LGBT or racism, sexism, xenophobia. It’s just such madness to me. And I think it’s so divorced from reality. A left wing friend of mine who said to me the other day– she said “you know the difference is that white men have never been the victims of systematic oppression in this country.” I was like “Really? Never. So OK, so my stepfather was drafted to war. Does that not meet your definition of systematic or oppressive? Is that not enough for you to be counted into this? Did he die or go murder people looking for some pointless war? Now, I know it’s not being catcalled. But like how does that match your definition?” What bullshit. What are you talking about- oppression? Basically before 50 years ago, everyone lived under a grinding poverty that we’ve never really been able to wrap our heads around. What do you know about the oppression? You’re like the most privileged people ever. You’re lecturing everybody else about their privilege. So that’s what makes me a little pessimistic about the young generation. But short of stuff like personal freedom is good. I hope they turn around on that.

Photo by Phil Provencio

On GaS Digital and Luis J. Gomez

Now Luis [J. Gomez] is — on top of being an incredibly talented comedian. Luis is like a monster entrepreneur and he did everything for me for this special. GaS Digital Network really built something cool and they have been unbelievable for me. So that’s literally the reason I’m able to put this hour out because of them. It’s really great. And this is the first one for me. Yeah. First, first special and lots more to come. I would have been quite pleased three years ago if some big network had come to me and offered me a special, but truthfully, it just seemed like the timing worked out perfectly. I’ve developed with Part of the Problem, the Legion of Skanks; I’ve kind of built up a fan base over the last few years and now I’ve got this fan base. And it was this moment in time that I had a lot to comment on.

Go to gasdigitalnetowork.com now to watch Smith’s debut hour special, Libertas and to check out Legion of Skanks and Part of the Problem.

Photo by Phil Provencio

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Phil Provencio is a fast rising New York based photographer and graphic designer highlighting the comedy scene in the city and abroad. His galleries can be seen at the Comedy Cellar’s Village Underground in Greenwich Village and Carolines On Broadway in Times Square. When not out shooting headshots or shows, you can find him exploring the city for photos he contributes regularly to Urban Outfitters and their print shops.
Phil Provencio
Phil Provencio
Phil Provencio is a fast rising New York based photographer and graphic designer highlighting the comedy scene in the city and abroad. His galleries can be seen at the Comedy Cellar’s Village Underground in Greenwich Village and Carolines On Broadway in Times Square. When not out shooting headshots or shows, you can find him exploring the city for photos he contributes regularly to Urban Outfitters and their print shops.