Standup/former Portlander/current Chelsea Lately funnyguy Ian Karmel is gonna be on Conan tonight! You could argue that he's moving up in the world, but did you guys know he used to have a column in the Mercury?
Since Ian is our canary in the coalmine of Hollywood, I asked him some questions about the experience of doing the show, which he recorded yesterday. Helmets on, guys; this is gonna be hard-hitting.
Are there snacks backstage?
There are hella snacks backstage. My greenroom had a spectacular cheese plate, a crudité plate and a tin of caramel and cheese popcorn mixed together, which is actually delicious. Then the big communal green room had a big sandwich platter in it. I actually noticed the sandwich platter before I noticed Kevin Nealon and Marc Maron hanging out. They were pretty basic mozzarella, tomato sandwiches on decent bread. I’d put them at a 7.5/10, but considering the quality of most greenroom food, they were a 10.
Is it exactly like the Larry Sanders show?
Is the atmosphere of the show conducive to doing standup?
This is my first time doing stand-up on TV, so I’m no expert, but I don’t think television is conducive to stand-up in general. They do an amazing job at Conan, though. The guy who books and handles the comedians, JP Buck, is so calm, and steadying and encouraging that it really puts you at ease. He tells you to treat the set just like any other set and be in the moment. They do everything they can to control the environment, but they also tell you that if you flub a line or somebody yells out something from the crowd, that you should react to it, which eases a lot of the pressure. Then you just walk out there and you start your set, and then you hear fucking Conan O’Brien laugh at a joke that you were telling at The Brody Theater just three nights before and you feel so wonderful that you want to cry.
Are you best friends with Conan now?
He was super nice! He was very earnest and complimentary and we joked about the cheese plate in the green room. I’m a 29-year-old white dude comedy fan. Having Conan tell me that I did a good job was everything.
Exactly how significant is going on Conan for a young comic?
It’s not going to land you a sit-com the very next day, or anything, but it’s pretty big. It’s a big personal milestone. It’s kind of like comedy looking you and saying “You’re doing alright, keep it up” and in this line of work, which is so full of uncertainty, that can mean a lot. Plus it’s pretty huge to have that platform, build your fanbase and connect with people who think you’re funny. It isn’t Carson, but even Carson wasn’t Carson.
How did you physically feel before recording? Were you nervous?
A little bit, but having spent the last six months on Chelsea Lately made me comfortable with the idea of being funny in front of a crowd on TV. Still, when I was standing behind that curtain waiting to step out onto stage, I felt a lot of butterflies. I was honestly afraid I would step out onto stage and start sobbing like “I’M SO HAPPY TO BE HERE, THANK YOU SO MUCH.” Luckily, that didn’t happen until after my set.
WHY DIDN'T YOU WEAR YOUR MERCURY SHIRT ON TV
I brought it and the wardrobe people picked the cat shirt! I have worn Mercury shirts on Chelsea Lately a bunch, maybe if the Portland Mercury respected women in comedy this would be less of an issue.
It's true! The Mercury has no respect for women! But we do respect our 29-year-old white dude comics, and so we encourage you to watch Ian on your television tonight. Congrats, Ian!