Joe DeRosa: Moving forward at the Fringe
By Caro Moses | Published on Tuesday 23 August 2016
American stand-up Joe DeRosa keeps himself busy writing, performing, acting, podcasting and a whole lot more. Though you might recognise him from his recurring role in ‘Better Call Saul’.
But comedy is his is first love, and this Fringe he has brought his show ‘Zero Forward Progress’ to Edinburgh for a new audience to enjoy. We caught up with Joe to discuss the show, his varied career, and what he’s learned since arriving at the Festival.
CM: So, tell us a little about what you’re exploring in ‘Zero Forward Progress’.
JD: The general theme is how annoyed I get with people, particularly ‘progressive types’. You know, the coffee shop pontificators. All intellect, zero common sense. I find them to be arrogant, self-important, entitled and, worst of all, the reason we can never truly evolve, because they constantly think they can fix everything that’s flawed instead of abandoning it and moving on.
CM: So the show is influenced by real life experiences?
JD: Absolutely. I live in LA, so I deal with these coffee shop activists on a regular basis. They all fancy themselves, so enlightened and inspiring. They’ll tell you “we need to do better”, yet their only concept of change is blocking people they don’t like on Twitter.
CM: What made you decide to bring the show to Edinburgh?
JD: I’ve been doing this hour for a little while now and we shoot it for Comedy Central in the fall, so I thought it’d be a perfect time to finally do the Fringe, and run the hell out of it in front of a brand new audience in a different part of the world.
CM: How are you getting on with Edinburgh?
JD: It’s been an amazing time. Exhilarating, terrifying, rewarding, frustrating, energising and exhausting. I think, for a comic, this is the kind of experience that separates the men and women from the boys and girls.
CM: You don’t just do stand-up, of course. The biog I have for you here also lists you as – in alphabetical order – an actor, an author, a director, an editor, a musician, a podcaster, a producer and a TV writer! Which of those takes up most of your time? Which is the most satisfying?
JD: All of it is extremely gratifying, but stand-up is always king, both time wise and beneficially. It’s how I came into show business and I’m sure it’s what I’ll be doing when it’s time to leave. The other stuff comes and goes, with great consistency, but all of it combined could never replace stand-up.
CM: How did you first get into comedy?
JD: I always loved stand-up, but I fell into this. A guy who managed a bar where I grew up thought I was funny and offered me a weekly comedy show. It was a small bar in a seemingly smaller town, so I had nothing to lose. Little did I know it would turn into a career. Two years later I was living in New York City doing comedy full time.
CM: What inspires you? Who influences you?
JD: The stand-up of George Carlin. Oh, and George Carlin.
CM: You’ve done lots of TV work, appearing on some very high profile shows. What would you consider to be the highlight?
JD: ‘Better Call Saul’ has definitely been the highlight. I still can’t believe I’m on the show. I never imagined being part of something that cool. It’s so humbling and flattering to be included in it. I’m very lucky.
CM: We mentioned all those different projects you’ve done beyond stand-up. But are there any particular projects you’d still like to do?
JD: I write a lot of short horror fiction – you can find my monthly column Some Severe Situations on fangoria.com – and I hope one day to have that stuff published as an anthology book. I also definitely want to make some interesting television in the comedy-horror and comedy-science fiction vein. Hopefully, some of that will be based on my stories.
CM: I know you’ve released some albums. I originally assumed that was all comedy, but there’s music too, isn’t there? Tell us about your music output!
JD: I wrote and played music, never professionally, long before I ever started doing stand-up, so it’s always been a hobby near and dear to my heart. I release the current music I’m doing under the name Joe DeRosa And Demon Riot. It’s all on Bandcamp. The stuff on there is essentially electro-pop. But the new material I’ll be releasing soon is way more like Tom Waits and Captain Beefheart, except with keyboards and 808’s instead of guitars and live drums.
CM: Tell us something that you have learned during the Edinburgh Festival?
JD: Not to be cheesy, but I honestly learned to always accept the challenge. It’d be so easy to come into a situation like this, feel out of place and overwhelmed, and throw your hands up and say, “This is impossible”. But when you force yourself to keep an open mind and adapt and accept this invaluable experience, warts and all, it makes you a better performer that you ever thought possible.
CM: Tell us what you are planning to do after the Edinburgh Festival.
JD: Sleep. And not drink.
‘Joe DeRosa: Zero Forward Progress’ was performed at Underbelly Cowgate at Edinburgh Festival 2016.
Photo by David P Scott