An Interview with Comedian James Adomian

Last week, on the way to the Boston leg of the Comedy Bang Bang tour, I told my friend that I was super excited that I was assigned an interview with comedian James Adomian. To my surprise, my friend’s reply wasn’t “I’m really jealous of you and everything your life offers at your feet like a delicious platter of experiences, you wonderful human being,” but “he’s on the bill for tonight.” I excitedly pictured myself meeting James in the meet and greet line after the show, where we would laugh uproariously — or at least chortle in disbelief — at how fated this moment was. What actually happened was that I ran away from the meet and greet line out of fear that I would say something really stupid and waited alone for my friend to exit the theater.

But I did get to eventually bother James after he graciously accepted my request to monopolize a bit of his time to talk about LA vs NY, gay Disney villains and his new album out on Earwolf, Low Hangin’ Fruit.

When did you decide you wanted to get into comedy? Was it before or after you moved to NY?  I’m getting my information Wiki, so I hope it’s true. Yikes.

I’ve been doing comedy my whole life. I started in LA ten years ago, doing sketch and improv, then got into standup five years ago, then moved to New York one year ago. I just came to New York to get away from LA

What were you trying to get away from?

Shark week! It’s shark week like every week in LA!

Did it take you 10 years to realize that or 10 years to get fed up with it?

I dunno. LA is a great place. I grew up there. I just decided I don’t need to be there all the time.

I have to get the most important question out: How long did it take you to to accept the fact that Peter Dinklage is one of the most bangable actors in Hollywood right now? (note: James talks about his attraction to Dinklage on his record) Because it took me like 2 months.

Dinklage is hot! Maybe it’s the candle-light on Thrones, maybe it’s the lingering close-ups, but maybe he’s just got it?  I think it’s all attitude.

Attitude and piercing eyes. Do you prefer stand up or sketch and improv where you get to work with other people? Or do you like working with both mediums for variety?

Both! Now that I’ve gotten into standup over the last few years, I do that most often, like almost every night, at different shows. I still do sketch and characters, just not quite as often. Maybe 2 or 3 nights a week. And usually at late-night shows [because] it tends to get crazier once I put on a costume. After a while you figure out some differences in what 8pm people will laugh at vs. what midnight people will laugh at.

Right. I loved the Sheriff of Nottingham bit you did in Boston for the podcast section. It seemed like you were having a lot of fun too (at least from the audience), being able to get that ridiculous and out of line.

Oh yeah! That’s my latest favorite character. I was watching that Robin Hood movie with Kevin Costner and Alan Rickman and I was like, “Why is the Sheriff of Nottingham always so gay AND evil?” And that was the beginning of my bit about gay villains in movies. When you get an audience onboard with something wild and insane, there is nothing more fun that milking the f**k out of it.

Who’s your favorite character that is portrayed as evil and latently gay? You seemed to really like Ursula.

Ha – me Yeah, at this point I’m basically a collector of gay villains. Ursula is INSANE. She’s really fun. And she’s another one where you watch and go, “Hm, they didn’t have to make her a gay villain.” … Disney has a lot of homophobia dancing around in their older movies.

So this is your first album, right?

Yes, it is! It’s a collection of some of my favorite stuff I’ve been doing in the last few years, including some very new material and a couple of older bits.

This must be so exciting for you! It’s great — I was totally floored that I got to listen to it before contacting you. What went through your mind before you began recording the show(s) for the album? Were you more nervous than usual? Have any rituals? Do you cry a lot in bathrooms?

Thanks! Glad you like it. I’m nervous before every show, but mostly I just pace and write notes all the way up until going on stage. I cry in bathrooms but only on Sundays.

Gotta keep bathroom tears sacred. A lot of HelloGiggles readers are still in high school, so I was wondering if you could just tell me a bit about what the experience was like for you? Especially being a self-described closeted football player. Did you have a tough time or…?

I was good at sports and I was also in choir and theater. It was a fun time, even though I wasn’t open with myself about being gay. In hindsight I guess it could have been a lot worse. But I think coming from a background of sports makes it really fun now when I get onstage to talk about football from a gay point-of-view.

I’ve never seen High School Musical, but I feel like you just described the plot of Zac Efron’s character’s life to me.

There’s lots of us out there! I was able to hide who I was for years but then I grew up and I was like, hold on, this is not as much fun as I could be having.

Oh, wow, you know — That’s a really beautiful and simple reason to be honest with who you are. “This is not as much fun as I could be having.”

Yep. Fun is a very compelling argument. You got to balance it with what effect you’re having on other people and the earth, but having fun is very important. Important I say! Harumph!

Growing up in the Clinton years I loved Andy Richter on Conan – he was the perfect smartass. I was also a huge fan of both Phil Hartman and Chris Farley and was devastated when they both died. I was a senior in high school when that happened.

Three people who make you laugh now?

Now being in comedy I am lucky enough to be around the funniest people in the world like all the time. Pretty nice perk. I always love seeing Drew Droege – his characters are amazing. Also Kyle Kinane is the best storyteller I’ve ever heard, and it’s pure fun if he’s in a room. And of course, nobody makes me laugh like Eddie Pepitone, the Bitter Buddha!

 Three comedians you think we should be paying attention to?

It’s a great time to get into comedy. So much going on in almost every city – stand-up, sketch shows and podcasts. If I’m recommending only three, it’s going to be random and off the top of my head: Jermaine Fowler, Jamie Lee and Guy Branum! They always make me laugh and you should find them when they’re in your town, on your TV or inside your podcast machine!

Any projects you’re working on or cities you will be visiting in the coming weeks?

Well the album is the big thing, and it’s on Earwolf. I’m very proud of it – and it’s weird that it’s finally out! I will also be on this new season of Children’s Hospital, in a crazy role that I can’t talk about yet. Like maybe at the end of the season. Like maybe at the end of the season.

Holy moly! I  LOVE Children’s Hopsital! Congratulations! I hope you’re playing a gay villain.

I can’t say.

Fair enough.

I’m also on podcasts all the time, especially Comedy Bang Bang, and I’ll be touring several cities around the U.S. this fall! I try to tweet and Tumble stuff like that when I have time.

You can — and absolutely should — follow James Adomian on Tumblr or Twitter, check out his website for upcoming shows, and buy his debut album from Earwolf.

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