This past spring over the course of several nights I watched comedian Shane Torres perform in various New Orleans bars and venues, working out his Comedy Central half hour, which was taped at The Crescent City’s Civic Theatre in April. He has an interesting presence on stage that combines his hilariously dilatory delivery with a look that he describes as “Native American Meatloaf impersonator.” Shane seemed comfortable on every New Orleans stage, probably due in part to his affinity for the South. “I like spending time in the South, especially because the crowds are so great. The crowds at comedy festivals in the South are the kinds of people I enjoy. They’re liberals but have common sense, practicality.” This fall Shane will be dropping an album, a Comedy Central Presents half hour, and before that, will likely be performing in a town near you. I talked to Shane about the pains of working out new material, his plans for watching his new special, and his upcoming tour plans.
Isaac Kozell: It’s been a couple of months since I’ve seen you. How things been going?
Shane Torres: It’s been good, man. We taped the album. I just got the cover art back and I’m excited about it. I’m going to be coming your way (New Orleans) on the 21st. I’m going to do some of the stuff from the album and then some new stuff that…it’s just been not hitting, pal.
IK: I get it. Anytime I’m doing a show where I have more than 15 minutes I’m trying to work in new stuff. I’m always reminded of the thing that Mitch Hedberg does in the uncut version of Mitch All Together. He tried some new stuff and it wasn’t hitting with the crowd. He does an old joke and gets a huge pop and then sings this little jingle like, “My old shit is better than my new shit.” I hear his voice every time I’m trying something new and it’s bombing.
ST: Eventually you hate your old stuff and the new stuff you’re working on becomes your good stuff. It’s all cyclical. But it’s a fucking beating. It hurts so bad to fail at a joke. I think we should all be more open to that, or at least I should.
IK: Where did you record your new album?
ST: We did it at Comedy on State in Madison, Wisconsin.
IK: Who designed the art for the album cover?
ST: It was the great Barry Blankenship. He’s a brilliant artist out of Seattle. He’s done a lot of posters for comics. He does bands and stuff too. We’ve been friends for a few years and I’ve always liked his stuff. He’s got a very specific style and I was excited to see how he would put my personality into the album art.
IK: Your Comedy Central half hour is coming out this fall. How do you feel about it?
ST: I’ll be excited to have it air for sure. I don’t know if I’ll watch it. I mean I’ll probably watch it. I’ll tell people I’m not going to watch it and then watch it in my apartment.
IK: By yourself?
ST: yeah in a bathtub full of ice so I can keep my mind on something else.
IK: What else do you have cooking right now?
ST: I just finished a pilot. My buddy Omar Shaukat and I wrote it. It’s a 30-minute scripted dramedy about a pornstar who gets pregnant on set by a stunt cock. We’ll see how that goes. We like the idea of a very specific world getting up-ended by some kind of obstacle. Most people don’t want to see pregnancy porn. So it’s about how it would affect her career and life, whether or not to keep the baby, whether or not the father is a good guy, those kind of things. So we finished that and now I’m writing new material and going back out on the road. I’ll be in New Orleans, Lafayette, Bloomington, LA, San Diego, San Francisco. I’ll be out for four or five weeks, which will be a good time and help me develop the new stuff I want to work on. I feel like I have a bunch of good new ideas, but not a bunch of good new jokes, if that makes sense.
Get more Shane at www.shaneisacomedian.com or on Twitter @SyrupMountain