Josh Argyle – The Savage Henry Interview

If you’ve been reading this magazine for any period of time, you’re likely familiar with the hilarious writing style of our man, Josh Argyle. But did you know that Argyle is also a stand-up comic who co-produces a successful monthly live show called It’s Just 2 Minutes, Savage Henry’s San Francisco Bureau Chief, and that he loves movies about fat kids? What other juicy trivia can we squeeze from the lemon that is Josh Argyle? Let’s find out.

Isaac Kozell: Happy New Year, Josh! How did you ring in 2014?
Josh Argyle: Happy New Year, my friend. I hope you had a good one. I rang in 2014 at a party at a friend’s house. It was great hanging out with old friends, eating cupcakes, making fun of the new couples making out as the ball dropped while old couples drank and resented each other silently. It was New Year’s magic. How was yours?

IK: Sounds lovely. My wife and I ushered in 2014 in high style: Wearing pajamas in front of the cool, blue glow of our television. Did you make any resolutions this year?
JA: Nice! I’d like to imagine they’re footie pajamas. The ones with the butt flap because you’re a classy s.o.b.
Naw man, I’m not real big on resolutions. But if I was, I’d probably try to be on time for things more often and to stop swearing so much in casual conversations. Also, to stop using the word “dude” in a work environment. What about you?

IK: I have too many to mention but at the top of my list are: Finish Writing My First Book and Catch a Live Alligator.
JA: Those are some awesome resolutions. Are you gonna set up some gator traps, or just wade out and grapple with one, man-to-gator in a test of strengths?

IK: I’m hoping the be the region’s premier gator whisperer and Poet Laureate of the Primitive Swamp. But enough about me. Tell me about your day job.
JA: My day job is at an elementary school. I work as a classroom aide. Basically, I’m just a bouncer for 3rd-5th graders. Making sure they keep their damn sticky hands to themselves. As day jobs go, it’s pretty nice.

IK: Do you get to test your standup material on the kids?
JA: Hahaha. No. I’m pretty sure I would get fired for that. Their honesty is really admirable, though. A kid once told me that I had a big stupid head but assured me they still liked me. It’s tough to be mad at that type of honesty.

IK: Imagine if we maintained that type of honesty into adulthood. Never mind. That’s terrifying. As you know, this is our PG issue. What is your cleanest joke that has the highest kill rate?
JA: That level of honesty would be great.
Oh, jeez…my cleanest joke with the highest kill rate? Hmmmm. Now I’m just re-examining my jokes and realizing how much I swear. I think the cleanest joke that does the best is either where I talk about being out of shape and do an act out of taking a tired, out of shape shower, or a story about how I was fired from a job as a night janitor. I think those are fairly clean. Working around kids makes it so I have to use stupid filler curse words during the day like “darn, gosh, or dagnabit.” So, it feels great to be able to use real curse words on stage instead of sounding like an old timey prospector.

IK: How is stand-up going for you? Could it soon be your day job?
JA: Stand-up is going good. I love it. The comedy scene in the Bay area is really great. There is a great sense of community in this scene. I think stand-ups naturally gravitate to each other. I would love to have comedy be my day job. I think that is a dream of every comedian who still works a day job. I’m starting to get more paid shows so, maybe in a couple of years. But who knows. It would be great to go on the road more and live that life, at least for a while.

IK: Tell me about It’s Just 2 Minutes.
JA: It’s Just 2 Minutes is an improvised stand-up(ish) show. It started as a normal comedy showcase but the first show there was nobody in the audience, so we just messed around and talked for about two minutes on topics that the other comics would shout out. That premise got whittled down to a three round show where comics come up, one at a time, ramble about topics, and hopefully make them funny. Basically, its improv for stand-ups.

IK: You have a background in improv, right?
JA: Yeah, man. I started in improv for almost five years. I love it. There is something really pure about it. I really like the teamwork aspect of it. Being able to pass around the “funny,” if that makes sense. I think improv gets a bad rap around the stand-up world and rightly so sometimes. But seeing and participating in good improv is just as rewarding as good stand-up.

IK: What, in your opinion, is a justified criticism of improv, from a stand-up perspective?
JA: I think a justifiable criticism of improv is when it’s bad, it’s the worst. Not just the worst, the absolute worst. I think the problem is that when a stand-up set is going bad, as a comic, you can address it and address the awkwardness of it. When a bad improv scene happens, you can’t break character and talk to the audience, so it becomes even more awkward for everyone. It’s like being on a ship that’s sinking and on fire and you can’t address it.

IK: On a related note, what has been your worst bomb experience on stage?
JA: Oh, dude there have been some monumental bombings. The ones that are memorable are always really fun in a terrible way. I remember when I was doing improv, we did a benefit for AIDS research and the host talked about the ravages and horrors of AIDS before bringing us up. There was another great one at a show in a pot club (because that’s where all great stand-up happens) where no was was paying attention. At one point, I was eating it so bad that it felt like I had left my body and was watching myself bomb. I think my favorite bombings are when everyone knows it’s gonna be awful but marches on like that end scene in 300.

IK: I love the out of body experience on stage. I had a rough crowd at a biker bar in Louisiana and I hit that point where I left my physical body and was watching myself from the back of the room like, “Oh, look at this poor chump.”
What is the best thing that has happened to you in stand-up?
JA: Hahaha. Those experiences are great.
I think the best thing that has happened to me is…well, it sounds cheesy but when a complete stranger talks to me after a good set and asks where else they can see me is pretty awesome. It’s a small gesture on their part but it is incredible. They could have just enjoyed the show and left but they chose to take some time out and express how much they liked it. I think the best experience is when I come back home to Humboldt and people come out and support.

IK: How did you get hooked up with Savage Henry?
JA: I got to know (Savage Henry Editor Chris) Durant through a mutual friend who was in a Wiffle Ball league with him. Much like everything that is good in life, it all started with Wiffle Ball. Chris Durant throws a wicked curve.

IK: I know you’re a busy man and have to get going but before you do, what are your top 3 favorite PG movies?
JA: My top 3 favorite PG movies are…Number Three: Star Wars – The Empire Strikes Back, Number Two: Wreck-It Ralph, and my Number One PG-rated movie of all time is: Heavy Weights. One of the most underrated comedies of all time involving overweight children.

 

About Isaac Kozell

Isaac Kozell is a New Orleans based Writer and Standup Comedian. He spends his spare time skateboarding, gardening, and reminiscing about that one time back in '99 when he was invited onstage to perform with the band Sugar Ray.

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