Greg Stone loves comedy. He started pursuing his career straight out of high school, and over the past decade has gained a reputation as an amazing storyteller in New York Clubs. With credits that include America’s Got Talent, AXS TV’s Gotham Comedy Live, truTV’s Friends of the People, recognition by Carolines Comedy Club as a Breakthrough Artist, and regular appearances on SiriusXM’s Bennington show (including a spot on their top up and coming comedians in 2017 list). He’s also 1/3 of the Rad Dudecast along with Anthony DeVito (who was featured on ‘Up Next’ in May) and Brendan Eyre.
Comedy photographer Phil Provencio sat down with Stone in his Astoria apartment to talk about New York, comedy, and a collection of action figures 16 years in the making. Here’s a few things you might not know about Greg Stone….
He grew up in New Jersey with his friend, roommate and podcast co-host Anthony DeVito….
“[Anthony] DeVito and I went to high school together and I wanted to do stand-up, and I know he wanted to do stand-up, but he was kind of like, ‘I don’t really know,’ so we wrote together. We were friends in high school. We knew each other, it was funny, but he was in the north end of town, and I was in south end of town. In Bloomfield, New Jersey. He was best friends with my best friends.
“I grew up a block out of Newark in East Orange, he grew up in this Clifton area. It was North, South, whatever, which was crazy. I was in south end, Newark… East Orange…I was into rollerblading and hardcore music, not what the south end looked like. He was into rap music and R&B, not what the north end looked like. It was just two…the opposites, you know. He went to college, and I started doing stand-up. Then when he came back, we moved to the city together, like ‘why don’t we just make this official together,’ and it’s easier to do this with a friend. We both loved comedy, and I knew he wanted to do it. So I always force him, and sometimes I’d make him come and do shows, and he would help me write jokes. Not until we moved to New York was he like, “Okay, I’m doing it.”
A break-up gave him the push he needed to get up on stage….. but he’s soooooo over her….
“It’s crazy because the happy thing is….I see a lot of comics struggle with being happy, and they don’t realize why you go into this. I got into this to make people laugh. I didn’t get into it because I had some weird…. I think the big push was definitely because a girl broke up with me, and I was like, oh I’m proving that I’m going to be the comedian that I said I was going to be. I’m doing it. But then I thought I was going to be on Conan that year. That was 15 years ago.”
“So now I’m like, don’t worry, when I get on Conan, I’m still going to post, like, ‘you fucking bitch, I know you’ve been married for years, and I’m in an eight-year relationship, but you fucked up in high school.’ But I’m happy, right now. I really am. I try to take each set, I try to live in that set. Do comedy and write things I can write about. I’d like to just have more money, which is fine, but it’d be nice to— it sucks to say. I always want to have specials and do all that stuff and that’s all fun, but comedy is the thing I love the most, and I’m doing that right now. As long as I’m doing stand-up and just more comfortable……. I’d like a hot tub. I like to be in a hot tub. That is where I would like to be. That is it. I don’t give a shit what anybody else, TV shows, whatever. Ten years from now if we’re not sitting in a hot tub having the same interview…”
Living with comedians is better than not living with comedians….
“It’s good to live with comedians because you can just say whatever you want. They get that nothing is real. And also like, we’re always laughing. You don’t have to put the TV on because we’re just cracking each other up.”
“Well, I mean, we lived with this girl once, who wasn’t a comedian. She was nice, and she was a really normal, good person, but we keep weird hours, we say crazy things. Like Anthony and I were like riffing about you know, cunt jokes or something, and she’s like, ‘Why are you guys saying–‘ it’s like, that’s not ready for the world. That’s not ready for a human to hear yet because it’s weird or shitty.”
The birth and philosophy of the Rad Dudecast, and never saying no….
“Oh, smokes. It was never for anybody else, it still isn’t for anybody else. It was like, ‘We’re just going to record us having a good time, and who gives a shit.’ The fact that people started to come along was weird, because it’s like, ‘Yeah, I don’t want people listening.’ Our phone number is in the second episode. You know, we deleted it now, but people were calling and we were like, we didn’t think anyone was listening.”
“There’s no rules, you know, there’s no anything. Whatever you think is fun, we’ll do that. I don’t know if you’re familiar, but we did a Forrest Gump episode, where we just read the script to Forrest Gump. The very end, we changed the ending, so you had to listen to 45 minutes of us reading Forrest Gump to get to the end. It was just something we thought would be a fun, stupid thing to do.”
“Our specific calling, interest, whatever we think would be like…. Anyone has an idea, there’s no saying no. If someone comes with an idea and is like, ‘Hey man, this episode, I want to do a cooking episode. I’m going to play this character, she’s going to be a cooking expert,’ and it’s like, ‘Okay,’ and then someone else will have an idea, and they’ll just combine it, like Anthony will be like, ‘I’m going to be a homeless guy.’ No one says no, so then we have to make it work, and we just do it all together.”
The greatest Jimmy Smits hoax ever….
“Everyone thought it was real.”
“Gary Gulman thought it was real. Gary Gulman messaged me with, ‘Congrats on the Jimmy Smits thing.’ I was like oh jeez, I’m a horrible comedian, no one realizes.”
“I just saw someone post, “Oh Louis C.K. said I was great today,” and I was like, “Awesome. Jimmy Smits said I was great!”
“Then someone was like, “Is this real?” So then I was like, well I have to make it more obnoxious. So I was like, “Jimmy Smits showed up at my house this morning at 7:00 a.m. and he was like, “I’m going to make you the great actor,” and people were like “Wow, can’t believe he showed up.” I’m like, all right, they still don’t get it. So then I was like, “Jimmy Smits slept over last night,” and people were just like, some girl even wrote, she was like, “I work with him on his show. Should I tell him about this?” And I was like, “Yes, tell him. He loves me.” I just started photoshopping fake photos of me and Jimmy Smits hanging out. I think finally people, when I said I was engaged to him, people were finally like, “All right, this isn’t real.”
Also, Brendan and Anthony also did make joking posts. They’re like, “I can’t believe Jimmy Smits is in the apartment,” so people were like it’s absolutely true. I’d love to meet Jimmy, I don’t even know how to tell Jimmy Smits this. Like dude, I pretended we were friends for a long time. It’s weird.”
Singing with Michael Bolton- the real story…
“All right. So, I’ll tell you this. Do I tell you the real story or the stand-up story?”
“The truth is, the bit is that it was the first time I ever got drunk. My girlfriend at the time was a buyer for Toys “R” Us, so she also picked what toys Toys “R” Us was selling. It was great– I got free toys. We go to this Toys “R” Us event. It was a black tie event, Rosie O’Donnell was hosting, the New York Giants were there. It was huge.
The way that I tell the bit, is, this was the first time I ever drank. I just ran on stage and started singing with him. That’s not true. The true story is, it was before I started drinking, which, looking back now, is way funnier. But when I started telling that story on stage, I didn’t think the crowd would get it. Whatever. But I was such a guy who was like, “I love living life,” and Michael Bolton comes on, and no one gave a shit. It was all these high ups, and it was “Michael Bolton? who cares?”
I was like, “I fucking care. I care…I got to go, I got to go sing,” and she wasn’t working there for much longer and she was like, “Do whatever you want to do.” So I just ran, and he wasn’t performing on a stage, it was a rug-type thing. So I’m at the rug, and I’m like, “La-la-la,” just me and him, and he’s just kind of inviting me, like come on. So I go on the rug. The next thing I know it, I’m just doing, “When a Man Loves a Woman.” It’s him and I, we’re just ripping it apart. I’m cheek-to-cheeking with him, he’s going nuts. Then in my head, so in the original story is I tell you I’m drunk, which I feel like is a good excuse to do what I did next.”
“But I wasn’t drunk. I’m just an idiot. In my head, I’m like, you know, it’s Michael Bolton. Fucking rock Michael Bolton. So I grab the mic, he’s got the microphone at me, I grab the microphone out of his hand, and I went, “Rock me hard and fast, Rod Stewart!” Just mentally fucked up. Just mentally, just my brain switched off. I screamed Rod Stewart, it was almost like a record stop. Amber was just like, “That’s Michael Bolton.” I’m mortified, oh my God, why did I do, I didn’t mean to do that. I look at him, he looks at me and just goes right back into the song, didn’t give a shit, totally cool guy, totally knew I just fucked up, did the rest of the song. It was awesome. So not many people know that I wasn’t actually drunk. The story that I tell about being drunk on stage is just another story I combined to make them the same. I was just too embarrassed to tell people that I wasn’t.”
He bought his first action figure in 2001…
“Before it was like– if we’re all going to hell, I’ll buy a bunch of toys. They made these Spider-Man figures. I was like, I just want one for my room to be cool, retro thing to do. Then they just never stopped making them, so then I bought all of them.”
A learning disability led to a lifelong love of comic books and action figures….
“I couldn’t read when I was young, so my dad bought me a bunch of comic books so I would learn. I learned how to read through comic books because I still have hard times with books and stuff. I have all these learning disabilities and shit. I remember the pictures and then read the words. If I close the book, I forget what the fuck was going on. I can get through a comic because they’re short. Then the pictures help keep me paying attention. I have the ability to read, it’s just extremely difficult.”
“I think I’m making most of this up. Not making it up, but it’s like I could just be lazy or dumb. I think I’m just dumb, and it’s like, probably trying to make it sound good, but it’s like, no, I’m just an idiot who has a hard time understanding what he’s reading. I had to re-learn how to do all like, I was never able to write. I got through all of… I had to relearn how to do all like, I was never able to write. I got through all of high school on just charisma. Just smiling, “Oh, he’s so nice!”
“When I started writing, it was like, I enjoy this. I was like, fuck, I could have been good at school, if I would have just done it. So now, I just sit and I’ll write, but for the most part it’s like I have to do it on my own system. I can’t just sit in front a computer and just write out jokes. I’ve got to take a shower, I walk around, I listen to people talk, it’s a lot of bullshit.”
Marvel vs D.C.?
“Marvel made the better figures. The DC figures they don’t have, this is really nerdy. Their articulation blows. They have really bad articulation. I like good articulation. They got them in crazy poses and to do all that shit and DC really fell apart with that. Then they made ones that were good, but they made them too small. It’s like I’m not putting a five foot Batman next to a six foot Spider-Man, it doesn’t make fucking sense. I’m furious, like I’m screaming at people.”
He made and sold custom action figures for awhile…
“I was making custom action figures for awhile. It was just a thing that was calming to me. It started as a hobby, and then a few people asked, “Hey man, I’d like to buy that from you.” I sold it to them. But it’s not cost-effective for me because I’m not good enough to charge big money. It takes 12, 16 hours to make one, and then it’s like oh here, here’s 40, you know for 40 bucks. But it’s something that was very zen. You have to boil the figure, you pop it apart, you sand it down, and then you paint it with these coats. It’s something to me that’s always been, you know, I’m not very artistic so this was something that I could do and create something. Then you look and you go, “Oh look, I have this now. I made this and no one else has this.”
Check out The Rad Dudecast on iTunes, and even though its “just for them” go ahead and subscribe and leave a nice review. “I mean I would love for you to do that,” Greg said. “We don’t care. We don’t give a shit. Everything is like, we, I don’t know, it’s for us, man.If you enjoy it, you’ll enjoy it. If you, you know, I don’t give a shit, we’re not changing.” And follow Greg on Twitter @GregStone_.
Up Next is an ongoing series photographing and talking with New York comedians. All photos and interviews by Phil Provencio.