John Caparulo just released his second stand-up special CD/DVD, Come Inside Me. The special is currently available in stores, digitally and available for streaming on Netflix. The Chelsea Lately regular held forth on where he sees stand-up comedy headed, initially being thought of as a Blue Collar comedian, and he started things off with a bit of a rant about Netflix.
So your CD/DVD is out in stores already and it’s going to be on Netflix…
Yeah, actually, it’s been on Netflix for a while, since September 5th, you’d just never know that because of their crazy algorithm. It’s weird, I wanted to do a Netflix special specifically because I know I use it so much, so many people I know use it, so I’m like, “Man, if they produced it, they’d just put it on that suggestions line.” You would think if they produced it, they’d just put it there. They’re like, ‘No, there’s an algorithm that we don’t understand and only one guy understands and we’re not allowed to talk to him.’ It’s weird. You can watch my old special—
And it won’t suggest your new one?
Yeah! Literally. You can give my old special fuckin’ 5 stars a million times and it’ll be like, ‘What? We didn’t even know we had a new special.’ It’s like, you produced it, you jerks! So, yeah, it’s wonderful how cool little companies like that become corporate jerks really fast. We’ll see what happens, but that’s what I want to do with this new special. I don’t care how much money I make, I just want people to see it.
So it premiered at Netflix. Have you talked with people at Netflix and been like, “Hey, by the way…”
Yeah, yeah, we’ve gone round and round and it’s just like, they’re hiding behind trigonometry right now. Why can’t you just put it on? Why can’t logic apply instead of trigonometry, people? They’re not budging, so we’ll see what happens in the next week or so, if they’ll actually start putting it out there. But anyway, if you go to Netflix, it is on there to play for free if you’re a member. It’s called Come Inside Me. You’ll get it later.
You also released the album on a traditional record label, Warner Nashville. How do you feel about the dynamic of doing something online versus doing it the old-fashioned way and putting a record out?
My generation was the first generation of kids in the 80s with the stand-up boom and all that stuff. We looked at it as a way to get somewhere in life and to become somebody. The whole target was like, oh, TV and a TV show and all that stuff. You know, the internet sort of took over in the middle of when I started stand-up so it’s like, adapting to that whole thing, but I’m a person who rejects change because I’m afraid of it. I’ve become a guy who’s a consumer of entertainment options. I love movies, TV shows, everything, so I started getting into Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, whatever. I’m just always like, “Oh, at a touch of a button I can watch more The Incredible Hulk!” I’m just trying to take advantage of that realm. Even 5 years ago, it seemed silly if you said, “I have a web-based show, or I have a web-based special,” or something like that. People were like, “Yeah, yeah, that’s not as good as HBO.” But really, that’s how people watch comedy now, you know? They watch it on their smart TV or their devices or whatever, so that’s really where you need to be.
Do you buy CDs still?
No, I haven’t bought a CD in forever. I’m an iTunes junkie. I am one of those people that if I like it, I got to own it, so I’ll buy it off of there. But anywhere I can get it free for a while, like Netflix, I have a membership there, so I’ll play it from there. I’m becoming really old, too, because I don’t listen to music anymore. If I’m in the car, or on a plane, it’s like, eh, music is noise. So, I’m either watching a movie, or The Simpsons, or something like that, or I’m listening to audio books of all things.
When you were coming up, you were lumped in with the blue collar comedy vibe and you definitely wouldn’t be necessarily considered that now. Is that something you tried to get away from?
Yeah, that’s why even in the new special, I wore a button down shirt. Like, everything else I’m a slob, but I feel like if I just throw that wrinkle into the image with wearing a little-better shirt… You know, I really am in the true sense of the word blue collar, as far as where I come from and the type of guy I am, and even the type of comic I am. I mean, as far as hard work and being honest and earning your money. But when it comes to the term in comedy, blue collar comedy, people started associating it with redneck and I couldn’t stand that image. People looking at me like I was, you know, going to bull rides and NASCAR and reading the Bible and stuff. I was like, ‘Dude, I wear Air Jordans and listen to Tupac and I’m pro-gay marriage.’ I’m all that stuff. It drives me crazy. You really don’t know until you get into comedy how people look at you. I always joke, like, I didn’t know I was white trash until I moved to LA. I found out very quickly.
What did you do to distance yourself from being lumped in with all that?
I think really, honestly, other than the buttons on the shirt… People who are into blue collar comedy don’t really watch Chelsea Lately and the thing is, that’s not really my realm either. I don’t give a crap about celebrity gossip or what Lindsey Lohan’s doing. The one thing you can do wherever you put me is I’m genuinely honest and I think I can make something funny out of whatever I’m talking about. I think I’m just starting to learn that it just takes time for people to go, “Ok, you’re not necessarily the type we’re thinking, you’re just who you are.” Since the new special came out, I’ve gotten a lot less of, “You remind us of so and so.” It’s kinda cool to be taken at your own merit.
You brought up Chelsea. How did you fall into that? You just knew her from back in the day when you were both up and comers?
Yeah, she and I used to do shows together in the belly room at the Comedy Store together because it was an all-women’s show and I was a doorman, and Mitzi (Shore, club owner) co made him put me on because she didn’t want to make me a full on paid regular. She was like, “No, I gotta get you halfway there,” because that’s how my life goes. She used to put me up there, and Chelsea and I used to cross paths up there. You just kinda take not of the people who are good along the way. I always thought she was good, and she thought the same of me, so when her show came up they had round table reads and she and I showed chemistry. Her attacking me in the audition for the sound of my voice. I started to tell a joke and she’s like, “Is that really how you sound?” and I was like, ‘Alright, here we go.’ If you’re good at comedy you should be able to like Bruce Lee, be like water. Just make it happen. So that’s why I loved doing that show. It’s a challenge.
We kind of touched on it before—the way people consume comedy and the fact that you’re on Netflix—where do you see comedy evolving? Do you see it continuing to be a thing where people go online and people get little pieces of it? Do you think albums are still going to be a thing?
A guy who’s as great as Louis C.K. did a thing where he released an hour and people paid 5 bucks and saw it online, that’s phenomenal for a guy in his rarefied air. For guys my level, and below, I would say it’s become more short form. People are consuming more short form comedy, and people mostly see me on short clips online, or they might watch my special on Netflix, they hear me on satellite radio, but it’s excerpts from a longer thing. I’m actually putting a thing out soon. We just recorded the first last night, called “Caplets.” I wanted to be able to get a professional shoot, a professional sound, and I wanted to put out 5 or 6 minute clips a month. Because I generally write new stuff and forget about it anyway. I just thought, “Ok, why don’t I just churn out a bunch of new stuff—5 or 6 minutes of new stuff—every month, put it out online on iTunes, the YouTube viewer, the people who can see it free on my website. It’s just to have more stuff out there. Put it on satellite radio, iTunes radio, whatever. Yeah, it’s called “Caplets” and it’s coming out, I’m hoping, within the next month, actually, and we’re going to start doing it every month after that.
Will you charge for this?
No, not initially. Like I said, my objective is, I just want people to see it. If I can grow my fan base from the size it is now to 3 times the size, or whatever, that’s what I really want. If you want to see it for free, you can see it for free. Then, if you want to own it for whatever reason, because we’ll put like special features on the end when I do a wrap up of each one, then we might sell those for like a dollar on iTunes, or something like that. But that’s for the hardcore people who want to own it. If you want to see it, hear it, whatever, it’ll be available starting very soon, called “Caplets.”
For more information on John Caparulo visit his website for tour and appearance dates.