Quick: what are you doing tonight? It’s probably nothing good. Getting drunk? Lame. Well, maybe not so lame if you’re around a TV.
Here’s what you should be doing: watching Denver-bred comedian Ben Kronberg’s first Comedy Central half-hour special, which debuts at 12:30 a.m. Mountain Standard Time on Saturday, June 15th (more or less tonight, right?)
Yeah, he’s been on John Oliver’s stand-up show, and “Late Night With Jimmy Kimmel,” and all over the web, but this is his biggest TV break yet.
Kronberg, who now lives in New York, still returns to Denver to perform and emcee shows regularly (in fact, he’ll be headlining the Oriental Theater on Oct. 11), and it makes sense that he would. He was a founding member of the Wrist Deep Productions crew, which went on to become the Grawlix, and an integral performer in the comedy and indie music scenes here for years.
We talked to Kronberg via e-mail in advance of tonight’s premiere.
Is getting a Comedy Central half-hour harder than teaching a bear to make pizza?
I think they are totally similar and I completely get why you would ask. The thing about the bear making pizza is he has the desire for pizza from birth. I had to learn what a half hour was before I could desire it. Once realized it was quite easy to get a Comedy Central Half Hour. I just pointed my nose in the direction of the important people and bam!!!
What was your first time on stage like, and what made you want to come back?
My first time on stage was at an open mic in a bar that I worked at (The Park Tavern) in Cap Hill. I was so high on coke I forgot most of what I was doing, but luckily the coke faded away into a drunkenness one can only describe as euphoric. I wanted more of it all, so I just showed up the next week and did it all again.
What’s a joke you used to love to tell but now can’t stand?
I love all of my jokes because they are the cells from which my career is made. To hate your cells is to be a cancer to yourself. Cancer is bad. Jokes are good. I never count out a joke because someday it may come in handy for that unruly crowd that will only respond to the most vile, base humor.
What’s the worst thing you’ve ever felt bad laughing about?
I try to not feel bad about laughing. The worst thing I’ve ever laughed at has probably been someone getting hurt. That sort of laugh is a different laugh. I think we laugh when people get hurt to keep from exploding with confusion.
When was the last time you laughed so hard you cried, and why?
Hard as I try, I can’t remember. It has happened many times, but it seemed to be more of the moment and the fun I was having leading up to the thing. Now I remember!!! It was on my 35th birthday, I was in L.A. with my GF and we smoked this weed that made us really tired, but for some reason it also made us laugh so hard I couldn’t talk, and only cry. My GF was videotaping me and then we watched the video where I couldn’t pronounce words and my lip was shaking and all I could do was cry-laugh. I want that weed again! (Mom, I don’t smoke all the time and I wasn’t doing coke my first time on stage, I’m just trying to be interesting.)
Who are some of your favorite current comics?
Dead: Mitch Hedberg, George Carlin, Richard Prior. Alive: Me, Troy Baxley, Brody Stevens, Maria Bamford…
Do you have any superstitious traveling rituals? Inexplicable items in your suitcase/duffle bag/murse?
I travel light no matter how long I am gone. A backpack and my guitar. Any more is just a burden. With less I can be mobile and on the go and not have to worry about “my stuff back at the hotel.”
What’s your favorite joke of the moment? (yours or someone else’s)
I’m not here to promote other jokes. This isn’t karaoke John! Joke: When Luke Skywalker wears really tight pants he gets Mark Hamill-toe.
This is a pretty self-serving question, but: Do you think that writing “seriously” about comedy takes the fun out of it? Or do you think it has some merit, the way music journalism and criticism does in turning people onto new things and showing why they’re artistically significant?
I think comedy needs to be seen as serious cuz it is.Comedy is sad. Comedy is confusing. Comedy is a mind-fuck. Comedy is a tug-o-war with everything.
Outside of clubs, comedians spend lots of their stage time at festivals. What are your favorites and why?
Bridgetown is fun for the strippers and food and audiences. SXSW is great cuz it includes comedy, but isn’t just about comedy. I’m doing Chicago JFL fest and Montreal this year for the first time, so I don’t know how those are, but they pay pretty well and put you up so I’m going to give sight-unseen high marks to those too! The HBO Aspen Comedy fest was my first festival and that got me on the map a bit. That was 2007 and the last year they had that fest. I hope it was because of one of my jokes that they canceled it
What else should our readers know about your upcoming projects?
I’m writing a book about astrology and I have a collaborative EP comedy/music thingy happening with an indie-artist and some other things in the pipeline that I don’t want to jinx, but lets just say if they happen. I’ll never have to tell another dick joke again if I don’t want to… but I will.