By Anita Liberty – Date Unknown



AL: I want to know about your wife, Jennifer.

GP: First of all, she’s really, really bright and really, really gorgeous. So that’s good.

AL: Okay. I want to know more about your wife, Jennifer.

GP: She’s an elegant person, is the thing. She’s really, really bright and completely fastidious. She won’t go out of the house unless she’s full on. I have to go to the store to get milk, because she could never just, oh, put on a baseball hat. That would just never happen and hasn’t happened in the eleven years we’ve been together. She actually does look the way I thought she’d look when she got older. She’s so beautiful. She’s someone who, the older she’s gotten, because she’s gotten more confident and more poised, has actually gotten prettier.

AL: You’re such a romantic.

GP: I’m a lovebug, deep inside.

AL: The times that you’ve talked about Jennifer onstage that I’ve seen, you tell stories about brilliant things that she’s said or you make fun of yourself by recalling things she’s said to you.

GP: That’s totally true. We have two or three things that happened in our relationship that we laugh at constantly. Like the first time I told her to shut up from across the house. Jennifer had been in a car accident. She wasn’t bedridden, but basically I moved her into my apartment and took care of her for like three months while she got back together. At one point, she was in the bathroom just whining and whining and whining. You know, I had to put her in the bath and everything, and it just reached this frenzy, and I yelled shut up from across the house, and we both just started laughing. We didn’t get mad, which was so good. It was the first time in our relationship that one of us had yelled at the other, but we both remember it as a hilarious moment. I feel like with her, when I think about it, which I do when I’m away from her, that I would be a much worse person without her and that she’s taught me everything I know about myself by just being herself, without instructing me: “Oh, Greg, you do this.” Well, come to think of it, she does that, too.

AL: Did you do stand-up in college?

GP: I did everything. I did stand-up. I acted. I learned to improvise.

AL: Oh that’s right, you’re an improviser.

GP: Yeah, I’m an improviser. I think what I do is dissemble. I exaggerate everything to its most unbelievable, fantastic degree. I spend way too much time on a topic that doesn’t merit it and go into the details, and I think that’s my predilection. But mostly I consider myself a stand-up.

AL: Don’t you consider yourself an alternative comedian?

GP: Anita, don’t even get me started.

AL: Go ahead. Start.

GP: I don’t like all the rules. When I’m booked into an alternative evening, it’s like I’m told, do something you really want to do, say something you really want to say, don’t do your “act.” I’m like, I’m saying what I want to say. That’s my fucking *vocation*. I’m not a fucking unhappy office worker who thinks I’m funny. My art is what I do for a *living.* I was on an “alternative comedy” stage last night, and I was on really late, because the guys who asked me to do it didn’t do the lineup, and so by the time I went on, I was pretty drunk and morose and, at the end of my set, I said, “I apologize if I’ve reached too many people tonight with this material. I realize that the alternative stage is a stage of exclusion, and next time I come on, I hope to only talk about self-reflective things that get it down to about me and another guy. Me and a guy *you don’t know* is who I’ll be doing the jokes for next time.”

AL: I got asked by some reporter what I thought would happen if alternative comedy went mainstream. I said, then there will be another movement five years down the line that calls itself “alternative.”

GP: Oh God, I hope there is, and I hope that it’s funny. In any other decade, most of these people would not have been let on a stage. A lot of the alternative cats don’t have the slightest idea of how to present themselves onstage, and I’m sorry.

If an audience knows it’s going to see process, that’s one thing. But I feel like process has taken over, and it’s not even real process. It’s fake process.

AL: I feel like saying, hey, go finish that and come back when it’s done.

GP: Yeah, I don’t care if you didn’t get the audition, you’ve got to tell the story more amusingly. Stand-up is an art form. It runs the gamut. And God knows, the bottom end is full, but the two or three comedians who were artists–Richard Pryor, George Carlin–have shown how great it can be. The thing about stand-up is that it’s just a guy talking, as boring as poetry in the long run, and you don’t realize how cathartic a nonactive thing like watching someone standing and talking can be, until you see someone like Lily Tomlin and you think, “Wow, you really can tell the fucking truth if you want.” The more I do comedy and the longer I’m in it, I think the best thing you can do as a comic, well, I think the best thing *I* can do as a comic, I’m not saying it’s the *best* thing…let me qualify *everything* by saying that it’s *my* opinion…is that you can get closer to what you really think and be yourself. It’s a cliché, but it’s true. Stand-up gets denigrated because of people like Howie Mandel.

AL: What about Los Angeles? When we were in Aspen (at the US Comedy Arts Festival), you based your one-man show on your thoughts about Southern California.

GP: In Los Angeles, grown men in their thirties wear little backpacks. That’s all I can say. You just have to go, okay, I guess you never get old enough to dress like an adult. Whatever. Sorry. In LA, there’s loads of luscious bimbos and all that, but…

AL: But they’re not smart, and if you’re a cool guy, you’re turned on by smart women, not bimbos.

GP: I think you’re right about that, Anita. I mean, I’m as susceptible as the next guy to a nice ass, but the girls I always like are troubled and intellectual. Intellect totally turns me on. Especially a clever woman who gets up on stage and really lays it down. And you just go, ah, that’s so great. Because it’s sexy.

AL: I’m here to tell you, though, that that is not true for most men out there.

GP: Well, no. They want Pamela Anderson.

AL: And even if they say they don’t, they do. Sometimes, they just want women who are stupider than they are.

GP: Sometimes?

AL: Okay, all the time. And then they’ll come across someone who actually has her own opinions about the world and expresses them and disagrees with other opinions and isn’t ruled by the patriarchy, and men can’t deal.

GP: That’s why in LA, it’s so unappealing, because…and of course when I say LA, I’m talking about the narrow, narrow fucking world I run in, I mean I’m not talking about the other 11 million people here.

AL: You’re talking about the entertainment industry.

GP: I’m talking about a thousand people. And I don’t know 800 of them.

AL: It’s a generalization based on a survey of 200 people.

GP: Yeah, 200 people that I have kind of said hi to. Anyway, the thing is that Los Angeles is the least progressive town in the world, because it’s the most sexist town in the world. And women here are required to be something very specific. So even women who are very bright indeed are, I don’t know if reduced is the word, co-opted, forced, swept away.

AL: Reduced.

GP: Right. Everything is about dick and who you’re going to fuck and the power that you’re going to wield with the high quality of fucking you’re going to do. Men *and* women. Obviously, I spend a lot of time obsessing about Southern California, and it’s all I ever talk about onstage when I’m here. But I know it’s like throwing a pebble into Niagara Falls. I only do it because it’s there. LA is here. It was never any different, and I’m not going to be the one who makes it different, and, frankly, if I climbed up the ladder a little bit, I’d still do this.

AL: Do you ever get those world-changing feelings? Do you ever get the feeling that you want to get what you say out to as many people as possible?

GP: Yeah, and I go back and forth between being intimidated by it and thinking that there’s nothing more important than that. The whole point in LA is to pretend and practice for the day when you really are successful and you do that by acting like you’re successful now.

AL: If you’re the best at expressing and displaying a peacock’s-feathers show of confidence, you will be rewarded. Even if it’s about expressing how insecure you are, you do it from a place of I-don’t-give-a-fuck, and people listen.

GP: I think you’re absolutely right. And that’s an unnatural state. It means sacrificing a lot of your feelings towards your friends and other people, because in order to convince yourself of such a strong thing, you have to cut so many taliberty97hings off. But only really, really good people are able to do both.

AL: The trick is figuring out the balance between acting aloof and acting human.

GP: Right. You don’t need anyone, but you’re including everyone all the time, so no one feels left out. Because if they do, they’ll resent your aloofness and perceive it the wrong way. Once you’ve been in show business for a while, or been on the periphery, or, as I like to say, been clinging tenaciously to show business as I do, as Venezuela’s top comedy star, you start seeing that it’s such a long process and some people conquer it and manhandle it, and other people don’t. Is this the direction you wanted the interview to go?

AL: Whatever. We’re just talking.

GP: Oh, that’s right, it’s not an interview. It’s a ramblefest. We take on the big issues: love, death, show business.

Back To The Articles Archive