GIGGLE CITY: ‘Farts never go away’ – Brian Scolaro

Maybe it’s his tough Brooklyn accent. Maybe it’s because he’s large and hairy and releases a record called “Sneezes, Farts and Orgasms.” But Brian Scolaro seems to have suffered far too many hecklers for a guy who’s been on TV and is not known for “working the crowd.” Most comics we interview usually come up with one memorable tale without hesitation. Scolaro has some trouble. He says it happens at least once a week.

Why hecklers would dare to mess with this guy is a mystery. No, it’s not. They’re drunk.

Scolaro performs tonight (Wednesday, May 18) through Sunday at the Comic Strip.

Q: If you could be any celebrity, who would it be and why?

A: I think I’d be Catherine Zeta-Jones and then I’d go lesbian.

Q: Best heckler story?

A: Aw, fuck, dude. There’s been so many. Jesus Christ. This is hard. I don’t know if this is a heckle: Once this woman was in the front row on Halloween dressed as a princess. She was really drunk. And she was staring me in the eyes and vomiting on herself. To me that’s a very effective heckle. Vomit was just slowly pouring out of her mouth and onto her chest, and she was just staring at me. I can’t tell you how disturbing that is. One time at a club in New York City, I was on stage, mid joke, and a cockroach crawled out of this guy. He was just sitting in the front row smiling at me, and a cockroach crawled out of his jacket and crawled around for a while on his chest and then crawled back in. I just kept going with my joke because I didn’t want tell the guy and he’d start stripping his clothes off. I was just hoping he wouldn’t notice till the next comic was on stage.

Q: Do you have a favourite joke you don’t do anymore because it’s stale or dated?

A: I don’t do stuff that’s dated. In don’t write current events jokes. I’m not a political comedian. I’m not going to write about the fires and the floods and the presidents. I’m not trying to change the world like Bill Hicks. I try to write universal material that can go over in any country at any time. Farts never go away, you know what I mean? If one day people stop farting, then yes, one day that material may be dated.

Q: Do you have any material that’s close to being over the line?

A: Maybe 10 years ago, but I’m not going to tell you and have it posted on a website … I have a joke about ghosts masturbating. I like watching the people’s faces as I tell it. They think I’m just being gross for the purpose of being gross. But the ending of the joke is very clever and cute, and then everybody starts laughing, old ladies laugh. I love that thrill of disappointing people and then surprising them.

Q: Do you have to be a pessimist to be an effective comedian?

A: I think that pessimism comes in time. I think that comics are the type of people who see humanity for what it is, and in time, that can be very depressing. It can really make you a pessimist. I don’t think it’s a trait you need to be a comic. It’s just something that comes with doing it a while … I think there are waves. You start off bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, excited to be funny, and in time you get very negative – and then there’s this whole rebirth afterwards. It’s like getting older. I didn’t want to be fat when I was a teenager and it used to make me depressed, but now I’m 37 and I’m all right with being fat. You reach this level: Well, things are fucked up, but that’s all right.

Q: At what point are you?

A: I’m at that level now, I think.

Q: What’s the difference between kids today and when you were a kid?

A: I missed out! I didn’t live in the ‘40s and ‘50s when you could be fat and an alcoholic and yet your wife wouldn’t leave you. Nowadays, they can take off whenever they want to. And yet I’m also too old to be in the generation where all the girls dress like whores. So I just kind of fell in that shitty middle. I wish there were more whores in my neighbourhood when I was growing up, but there weren’t. Now with the Internet, man, girls know more  about sex than I’ll ever know – and they still won’t talk to me.

Q: This is a question just for you: Do you think you’re one of those comics that somehow invite hecklers?

A: Some guys are very crowd-workish. I’m not one of them. I watched Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor and George Carlin. There were no fucking hecklers. People just came to hear their brilliance, their writing. At some point there, the kind of audience that’s never been to a comedy club before expects everybody to be OK with heckling. I don’t like being interrupted. If you speak up, I’ll deal with you, but I’d prefer to get back to my script, if you don’t mind. Why is this job known for being interrupted? It’s inconceivable to me. You wouldn’t pull out a trombone when you go see a band. But every fifth show you’re going to get interrupted. You’re dealing with drunk people. Or some bride’s having her bachelorette party and she pulls out her penis whistle. I’ll be honest with you: this is a shitty fucking job. I should’ve been a teacher.