Shabooty Interview Series: Greg Fitzsimmons
Greg Fitzsimmons is a stand-up comedian, Emmy Award-winning writer, regular on the Howard Stern Show, author of the new book: Dear Mrs. Fitzsimmons, host of his own SiriusXM and podcast radio shows, and an all around FUNNY dude!
Shabooty: Would you say the success of Artie Lange’s book (Too Fat To Fish) opened up the doors for a lot of comics to write books?
Greg Fitzsimmons: No, I don’t think so — it might have gotten me a bigger deal than I would have gotten, but no I think that Artie is in another league in terms of being able to appeal to a pretty big fan base. I think that for comedians, we’re all fighting for a small piece of the pie but I think Artie … Artie’s got his own pie.
With a side of sausage and peppers, right?
This book Dear Mrs. Fitzsimmons – it’s based on letters that your mom has received about you?
Yeah, it’s basically things that most parents would throw out after beating you and I think it’s a very Irish thing that I kinda think is funny — that you’ve screwed up or that you’ve fought back against authority and so in the book, I call the envelopes like trophy cases, because she would actually save the envelopes and it was all in a shoe box and so it was kind of like striking gold as a comedian when I found it…
Would you say you were a momma’s boy?
No… I think me and my dad we were close and he had a pretty big effect on my career and my personality and how I see the world for good and bad, but no, I think my mom was more of …she was like a friend more than me being a momma’s boy.
You know what the collecting letters reminded me of? Remember the romantic movie, ‘The Notebook’ where the dude sent all of those letters and the mother collected them…
Yeah, that was a good movie man, I love chick flicks, that was a good one.
Yeah, that’s def. the movie to see to get laid.
Definitely – they owe you one!
Will you be making any cameos on your buddy Louis CK’s FX show?
Well, he shoots it in New York, and I’m in LA and Louis’ got a very quirky casting style he tends to go — I mean, I know he pulls in a lot of comedians that are friends but, for the most part, he’s got a real — I think it’s one of his biggest strengths — he seems to be able to find people with interesting faces, who behave in very unusual ways. And look, I’d love to be able to do something on his show but I dunno, my phone hasn’t rang yet…
[editor: phone starts ringing]
Oh as we speak, the phone rings.
Lol! [ed: an Asian comedian calls Greg and tells him to "take my rice, please."]
Who are you more competitive with regarding book sales, Gary Dell’Abate, or Adam Carolla?
I mean I could come up with a funny answer for that, but the truth is… I wrote the book because my whole life I’ve wanted to write a book and I kinda put my heart and soul into it and I’m doing everything I can to promote it, but ya know, I’m only competing with myself. I love both of those guys and you know look, Jim Brewer’s got a book out, [etc] … all people I respect and think are funny so — I think that over time, we’re all gonna reach out to the people that like us and maybe people won’t buy all of the books at once, but I think that when you’re out on the road a lot performing, or you’re on a radio show, your book’s not going anywhere — it will stay in print, the people will buy it eventually — they may not all shoot to the best seller list, but I just am really feeling great that I finished it and it’s out and I got a pretty great media tour coming up and I’m kinda looking at that as a victory lap. I’m celebrating the fact that the book is out!
I saw on your Twitter feed that you’re doing David Letterman and The Howard Stern Show
Yeah, I got a lot of stuff. I’ve been on the phone doing a lot of interviews, and I’m gonna come back and do Jimmy Kimmel and Chelsea Handler and I just hosted [Adam] Carolla’s show for him this week. I’m doing Joy Behar, it’s just gonna be really running myself ragged between doing book signings and doing stand up shows, so I’ve been kinda preparing myself for this and now I feel ready.
I forgot to mention, the other book you might be competing with is The Situation’s book
I LOVE IT! How funny was that shit the other day [on the Stern show], oh my god. That dude — some people are characters, some people are parodies, that dude is from another planet, it’s great. And it’s like the funny thing is that he’s got a book, and a DVD, and he’s got TV deals, and he’s trademarking everything, and it’s like boy, if you have the right agent, they know how to capture your fifteen minutes in a bottle, man. I can’t wait – there’s no way I’m not buying that book and promoting it on most of my interviews.
It was hilarious on the Stern show, when they were making up acronyms and goofing around.
If you had to do the whole “Howard Stern writing the foreword for your book” saga over again, would you?
Wow, that’s a good question. I’ll tell you on Tuesday. I’m doing the show Tuesday morning and I think that that’s going to be the final act in this play. We’ll see how it ends. It was amazing publicity and a lot of people tell me they enjoyed it as a radio bit — but it was a long haul going through that this summer.
Do you think Conan O’Brien will be successful at TBS?
Well, the definition of successful will change, because he’s not gonna be on a network. He’s not gonna be on at 11:30 as opposed to 12:30 — if you look at a show like Madmen, nobody knew where AMC was before Madmen. And nobody knew where Bravo was before Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, it’s always good to be the show that brings people to a new network, because that network is gonna kiss your ass — because you’re gonna put them on the map. George Lopez gave it a shot, I don’t think you can say he has succeeded completely, but I think that Conan – if he scores the biggest numbers on cable for the night — I think that that’s something. I think that he’ll have more freedom to do more creative bits and I think in that sense, it will be successful. It’s all perception, ya know? It’s like Howard going to Sirius or if Howard chooses to leave Sirius and do something else, there’s no one scale you can judge these things on. Sirius are different than terrestrial and podcasts are different than terrestrial — I think to me, it’s always about creative freedom. When you’re making as much money as Howard or Conan – I just think go where you can do [you], and I think that’s a big reason as to why Howard went to Sirius and I think that Conan is probably gonna be really high on being on cable and I think that if he looked more nervous being on NBC at an earlier hour, he’s gonna be even looser than he was at 12:30, now.
Will you be watching our buddy, Mark McGrath on the next season of Celebrity Apprentice?
I’ve never seen the show, so I can’t imagine that I’d start now. I would go see Mark play music. I would see Mark do a one man show. I would see Mark do mixed martial arts. I would see Mark making pizzas at a restaurant. But I don’t think I would watch anybody on The Apprentice.
Is the radio show you did with Zach Galifianakis and Natalie Maines rank as one of your top shows?
Well, I think in terms of name power, for sure. And I think that it was also a really cool, fun show because it was very spontaneous. We didn’t know Zach was coming,. But there are other ones that I feel like were more crazy. Like ya know Tom Arnold has been on twice and one time he came on and he announced a plan that [Arnold] Schwarzenegger hadn’t even unveiled yet for California buying rails from the Chinese. Like that guy’s really phenomenal as a guest. I don’t know if it gets much better than him.
Yeah I def. heard that episode
And Andy Dick has been consistently crazy on my show too, and I really love Andy.
Since your kids go to a predominately Hispanic school, is Danny Trejo [Machete] their hero?
That might be above his head — but he really likes the George Lopez sitcom, and culturally there’s def a lot of Latino influence. Ya know the music, and we just celebrated The Day of the Dead, the day before Halloween — his whole school did alters to dead people and all of this pretty wild shit. Cinco De Mayo is HUGE and he loves that. Ya know, it’s pretty cool, because LA seems like it’s mostly Latino, it’s nice to have him be a part of that. It’s very easy to be insulated from the different worlds that are right around you in LA because you’re in your car — it’s not like New York where you’re interacting with people.
Do you have a feeling whether Howard stern will stay or go at SiriusXM?
My gut is that he’s going to become kind of like a consultant. I think he’ll keep his hand in — but I think he’s gonna have another project that’ll be coming up in the next year that will take him away… that’s my gut but I could be wrong. Like I said, creatively the guy has complete control. SiriusXM seems to support him 100% and I think he’d probably be happy to stay too, but I think his schedule’s gotta slow down a little.
If a comic aligns themselves with Opie & Anthony instead of Howard Stern, do you think they’re SO DUMB?
I think it’s different styles. I know comics — first of all, there are a few that do both, and I know different guys just kinda mesh better with the different shows. Opie and Anthony is like a big party where everybody joins in, where as with Howard’s show… it’s very much Howard’s show and he’s the narrative and then you come in, and the people that come back a lot are the ones that can… respect what the show’s really about and not try to hijack it and be a kind of a team player. I think different comics have different styles for that, and I think some work better than others.
Are you working on any new projects after the book?
Yeah, I’ve actually got two TV deals going on right now, which is a pretty good feeling because I’m worried once the media tour ends and things calm down around the book — it has dominated my life for the last year completely — and so I’ve got a deal with 20th Century Fox for a sitcom — so around December we’re gonna be out moving that forward, and I’ve also got a show at Nickelodeon that I’ve got in development — we just made the deal weeks ago, so that’s a brand new project to start on. I’m psyched to do that and I’m psyched to try to push my podcast up to another level, which I haven’t had time to do. Ya know, I’ve been doing two podcasts a week and I’ve got this webmaster named Alice, who has really done a great job in getting my website up to another level, but I really want to get the podcast to grow and the website and so I’ll be glad to have a little time and energy freed up for that.
When you mentioned Nickelodeon – have you had meetings with Nick Cannon? [I think he's a suit there].
Is he at Nickelodeon now? What do you mean the singer Nick Cannon?
Yeah, thought he was an executive at Nickelodeon.
Oh man, no I just always thought of him as on MTV or something — this is with the people that are used to doing more like dramas — sitcoms for kids. This one is gonna be more for all ages, kind of the appeal of the Cosby show. I’d like to meet Nick Cannon, I know my kids would like to meet Nick Cannon — if I see him in the hallway, I’m gonna grab the guy.
Will you let your kids read your book at this time?
No, no, they can’t read it – they’d literally have to be like seventeen. There’s some hardcore shit in there and ya know, I showed them some of the pictures and then I said you’re not allowed to look in this book. We’ve got one copy in the house, and it’s hidden and I really, really hope that they don’t look at it for a long time.
Thanks Greg, this interview has been a long time coming!
Thanks for the support, I appreciate it!
You can see Greg Fitzsimmons signing his new book, Dear Mrs. Fitzsimmons: Tales of Redemption from an Irish Mailbox at the Barnes & Noble at The Grove in Los Angeles on Monday, the 15th of November!