My first impression of Steve Simeone’s act was that it felt like hanging out at a bar with your funniest friend with the best stories. His friend’s kids are convinced Steve is actually Santa Claus. If you mix those two together, you pretty much have Steve in a nutshell.
Steve agrees, “I totally stole this from Jim Carey, I saw an interview with him back in like 2000 where he was talking about The Comedy Store and said ‘I just want to talk to the audience like I already know them, so I made the Original Room my living room.’” During late night sets, Steve will even point out, “Doesn’t it feel like we’re just all together at a slumber party right now?”
That already-familiar tone works perfectly for his material, which takes reminiscences from throughout his life, including many from childhood, and weaves them into long form storytelling that’s packed with jokes throughout. Steve covers staying up late talking about gremlins, watching pro wrestling with his brothers and the treat of going out for Chinese food with a mix of nostalgia, wonder and fully grown-up humor.
There’s an overarching theme of kindness and positivity throughout. “That’s the key to life,” Steve says, “Nevermind just comedy, in life, just be myself and be nice to people. I wasted so much time starting in middle school being miserable, worrying about if I was supposed to be this or allowed to like that. Now I don’t care about other people’s opinions, whatever you’re into.”
I’m bringing old school back. In a way, where we’ve come to as a culture, being a fuddy duddy is the new punk rock.
“Oh, and ‘fuddy-duddy’ let’s bring that back. I love old school slang, I think it’s way more expressive than anything today, even profanity. Gadzooks! Hot Dog! I’ve been saying ‘neat’ ever since I heard Don Barris say it six years ago and I think it’s finally catching back on.”
Steve began pursuing comedy somewhat casually in Philadelphia before winning a comedy contest judged by Pauly Shore and moving to LA. He thought he would pursue other avenues of comedy – screenwriting, comedic acting, Groundlings classes or the like, but he started going up at The Comedy Store open mic, got a job there and that was that.
There’s a sort of legend people tell about Steve that he used to be a very different style of comedian, but would tell these great stories about his family and friends to everyone while working the back parking lot shift. One of the older guys told him, “That’s what you should do onstage!” and the Steve Simeone we know today was born.
But Steve says that’s all apocryphal, “Even that set I did for the comedy contest, which was probably the tenth time I was onstage, was about my brothers and 7th grade dances. I definitely went through a period in the middle where I just wasn’t really doing material. You only got three minutes on stage as an employee, so I would just talk to the audience or talk about my day. I wasn’t trying to get better material in 3 minutes, I was just trying to get as funny in front of strangers as I was in front of my friends and family.”
Steve’s new album “Remember This” is full of material pulled from as far back as eight years ago right up to some things he riffed on stage during the taping. “I chose the material because I almost wanted it to be narrative form, in three acts. So the theme that runs through it is these two little boys trying to stay up past midnight. It’s almost like a one-man show, but it’s stand-up, there’s jokes and punchlines all throughout like you’re supposed to.”
“There’s some jokes I left out that are great, just because they didn’t fit in with the overall theme. I don’t like a set that hits on eighteen different topics in seven minutes. And there’s some material I felt like I had to put on there before it was gone forever. Jokes are the best while they’re still in the process of being perfected. You never get them actually perfect, but there is a point where they start to get less funny [to you, because you’ve done them so long] so you stop doing them that often.“
“I really just wanted to get my point of view across and introduce myself to everybody. I don’t know who The Man is, but The Man is trying to divide us into groups that are against each other – rich vs poor, black vs white – and I just want to do the opposite. Everyone is completely unique, but we have so much in common and that’s one of the best things about comedy shows. You get a ditch digger and an ambassador, people who would never be together normally, and they’re laughing at the same thing. We’re blessed to experience that every night. Ask any comedian and their favorite kind of audience is ‘As diverse as possible’”
In keeping with the childhood memories theme of Steve’s album, here’s Steve’s “Three Favorite TV Guest Appearances of the 80’s”
1. Hulk Hogan on the A-Team.
This was the greatest thing. I remember we went over to my grandma’s house that night and I told my mom we were going to miss it and then we weren’t home in time. So everyone at school was talking about it the next day and I had to wait until summer to see it. But it was worth it, that might be the greatest episode of television ever. “The Refrigerator” Perry was also on it, so you had Hulk Hogan, The Refrigerator and Mr T all in one show.
2. Tito Jackson on Facts of Life
Tootie was the president of his fan club and she even made a bust of him, but it broke. But mostly what I remember wondering was, “Who is Tito Jackson?”
3. Mr. T on Different Strokes
He told Arnold to believe in himself. It was great. People don’t realize that Mr T was everywhere back in the 80’s. He was like the Justin Bieber of 1984.