I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with comedian Steve Rannazzisi to talk about his first hour long comedy special Manchild. Steve is probably most known as his role of Kevin MacArthur, from The League in addition to being a terrific stand-up comic. We met up at a midtown cafe for a bit of conversation. An interview earlier in the day crammed his schedule so while I could’ve spend the entire afternoon with the comic, we got right down to the brass tacks to find out about how he prepared for his debut stand-up special Manchild and how it all came to be.
Rannazzisi started in stand-up comedy back in 2000, from there he moved to LA and got his start at The Comedy Store. As years when by he kept building his arsenal of jokes refining material that would help hone his style of stand-up and lay the foundation for his special.
When asked how the began to discuss how his material began to come together and he began his drive towards a one-hour special Rannazzisi revealed, “Everything just kind of happened organically. A story would happen, I’d tell it on stage, I’d make it funnier as time went on, add jokes here and there, and then it was sort of a bit that I had. So as it came the time where I was like, you know what, I really want to record an album. I talked to different people and things came together with Comedy Central, they were like ‘ok, do an hour and here’s the date.’ I was like ‘Ok, great.’ Then I hit the road really hard for like 4 months, almost every weekend. Just figuring out the order, doing this, doing that, putting it all together. Everything that had happened in the last ten years, kind of chunked together, in that hour.”
Manchild was recorded in New Orleans. When asked why, his answer was quick and simple, “Comedy Central.” Rannazzisi elaborated, “I think what they’re doing is they’re picking kind of cool cities that aren’t LA and aren’t New York and they’re kind of figuring out ‘ok, lets pick a couple people that we really enjoy, lets set up nights where we could get a good audience together and record the specials there.” He stated that he liked this choice because he hadn’t saturated the market and they were kind of seeing him for the first time. “Plus it’s a football city so a lot of League fans show up. So yeah, Comedy Central was like ‘New Orleans’ and I was like ‘Great, I’m in, I love it.'”
As a University of Alabama alum, I mentioned to Rannazzisi that I’d been to New Orleans several times, “Roll Tide” Steve replied with a grin. “Are you an Alabama fan?” I asked. He replied, “I am not an Alabama fan, but I figured you would be happy if I said that.” What a crowd pleaser.
Now that its established Rannassisi prepared for about four months for this special, he was excited about New Orleans, and isn’t an Alabama fan, I wanted to find out what sucked. What did he really hate when it came to the process of making this special. “Naming it,” he quickly responded. “I went through so many names and I was like, and even to this day I’m like ‘Manchild? Oh f*ck, I could have done so much better than that!” He continued from a personal angle, “I didn’t name my kids, like my wife was in charge. I had veto power if I didn’t like it, but I feel like putting a label on something is so difficult for me to do. For me, honestly, the toughest part was naming it.” The comedian stated Manchild was on a list of names he sent to Comedy Central. Comedy Central said no to some and yes to others, he felt Manchild worked, looked good in a hash tag, and went for it.
Now that Manchild is taped and released, Rannazzisi is hitting the road on a Manchild tour. The tour will take him around Canada and the US with stops in Indiana, Chicago, Arizona, New York, Nashville, and Texas. When asked if he was looking forward to the tour he replied, “I am, because to me now there’s no pressure. There’s no end game, I’m filming this special on this date, I’ve got to get ready for.” He continued, “Now [having filmed Manchild] it’s a little more fun. I’m having a little more fun on the road, where I’m telling some of the old jokes, I’m writing new stuff, interacting with the audience. It’s kind of back to the way it used to be [before filming Manchild] for me.”
Our conversation ended as Rannazzisi was off to yet another interview. While we had a brief time together that doesn’t mean fans of Steve Rannazzsi will miss him. Check his his website for tour dates and pick up a copy of his stand-up special, Manchild which is available at all digital retailers now.