You might recognize comedian Doug Benson from his stints on Best Week Ever, Last Comic Standing, his Comedy Central show The Benson Interruption, or you might just recognize him as “that guy who ALWAYS looks high”. Benson is a huge advocate of marijuana, and its legalization. He co-created and performed in the stage show “The Marijuana-Logues” and also made the film “Super High Me“. He’s not all pot jokes and stoner stories though. He is a quick witted, gifted stand-up who has a mass following on Twitter, and collaborates with the best of the best in the comedy world on his podcast “Doug Loves Movies“, on TV with “The Benson Interruption“, and also appearing on other very popular podcasts as a guest. Maybe you could attribute his more than cult following to the like-marijuana-minded, but I would say it’s because he has a unique, deep, and true love for movies, and also comes up with the best 140 character one-liners out there. He is the kind of guy that could, and will bust your balls, but for some reason doesn’t come off as an asshole while doing it, because everything is said with a genuine smile. Check out a quick Q&A Benson did with Serial Optimist, and get his take on the best movies of 2010, his current state of mind, and a great response to someone who didn’t get the awesomeness that is “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World“.
Serial Optimist: Hey Doug! How are you? Where are you currently responding to this interview from? What are your surroundings? What kind of mood are you in?
Doug Benson: I’m good, thanks. I’ve been in NYC for a few days, and I’ve been having a great time. Taped an episode of my podcast last night in front of an awesome New York crowd. Now I’m just chillin’ in my hotel room, with a towel laid across the crack in the door. So my mood is high. So to speak.
SO: How did you get into stand-up? Was being a comedian always the goal?
Doug: I stumbled into it. Always loved it when I was young, but didn’t think of it as a possible career. But some friends thought I’d be good at it and talked me into trying it, and once I did my first set at Pot Luck night, and got a few laughs, I was hooked.
SO: How would your describe your style of comedy when you first started? How would you describe it now?
Doug: When I first started, my style was shy and nervous, now my style is I-don’t-give-a-shit. I’ve been doing it so long it’s like riding a bike. Although cyclists don’t have to deal with drunken hecklers.
SO: How has Twitter helped your career? A lot of very popular comedians have lots of followers, multiple thousands, but you have over 100 thousand followers. That’s a whole other level of Twitter popularity! Why do you think you have such a strong following?
Doug: Twitter has helped my career a lot. It allows me to tell people when and where they can see me live, when my TV show is on, all things Doug Benson. I like to think I have a strong following on there because I write lots of jokes. Some would say too many. And some also don’t like all the self-promotion. But to them I say, “If you can’t stand the tweet, unfollow the kitchen!”
SO: When did you start your super popular podcast “Doug Loves Movies”? How did the format develop? What made you want to tape it live at UCB as opposed to in a studio or whatever like so many other podcasts?
Doug: It started on a thing called Hand Held Comedy, a podcasting network website that didn’t last because it was ahead of it’s time. When I was with them, the show was a half hour long and just had one guest each week. I taped in front of a live audience because it’s a comedy show, and the crowd keeps my guests and I aware of that. After Hand Held folded, we kept doing it, but expanded it to 45 minutes. We do it most weeks in front of the very popular live show, COMEDY DEATH RAY, at the UCB Theater in L.A.
Some weeks we do it without an audience, just to change things up a little. And we do special road eps from time to time too. I’m so busy talking about movies; I barely have time to see them!
SO: I know you are a big supporter and fan of “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.” It was one of my favorite movies of the year, as far as just being so fun, entertaining, and great. I actually JUST posted on Facebook my love for the movie, and have been talking about it non stop, and my older sister just said: “Uhhmmmmm. I am watching the Scott Pilgrim flick, and there are far too many hipster glasses and angry at the world chick drummers so far. Bleck” What would your response to that be?
Doug: I can only think of two characters who wear glasses and two angry at the world drummer chicks, one of which is a little Asian girl, so if that’s far too many for your sister, maybe she should check out 127 HOURS. Because that movie basically has only one character, and he doesn’t drum or wear glasses.
SO: Couldn’t have said it better myself. Which is why I left it for you to say. Love it.
SO: What were some of your favorite movies of 2010?
Doug: The aforementioned SCOTT PILGRIM and KICK-ASS were my favorite movies this year. Still have some catching up to do on year-end movies, so I’m looking forward to seeing TRUE GRIT and THE KING’S SPEECH. Oh, JACKASS 3D was pretty funny.
SO: Will marijuana be legal across the U.S. in the next 10 years, and if you believe so, on what level will it be legalized?
Doug: It will just be straight-up legal eventually. Not sure how long it will take, but it will happen.
SO: Tell us about your show on Comedy Central, “The Benson Interruption”. How did this idea and format come about? Has it gone so far as you envisioned it to?
Doug: Whenever my friends would be telling jokes in comedy clubs, I’d be in the back of the room making jokes about their jokes. So I decided, why not do that into a microphone. And after doing it for fun in L.A. for about 10 years, Comedy Central agreed to try it as a TV show. I’m pretty happy about how the first 6 eps turned out, now we’re just waiting to see if Comedy Central wants to make more. Fingers crossed for 2011!
SO: How will you be celebrating Christmas and NYE this year? Do you do the same thing every year, or does it change depending on your schedule? What is your favorite thing about the holidays?
Doug: Every year on Christmas day I see a movie with my mother. She gets to pick, so it might not be something I like. Last year we saw that boring movie where Christopher Plummer played Tolstoy or some shit. For New Years I’ll be performing at the Improv in West Palm Beach Florida. For the past three years I performed in San Francisco on New Years, but this time I decided to change it up and go somewhere warm. My favorite thing about the holidays is the music. It’s corny, but I love songs about Christmas.
SO: Who are some of your favorite people to follow on Twitter?
Doug: I like to follow famous people, comedians, porn stars and @Qrank, which is the twitter feed for a daily trivia game that I am hooked on called Qrank.
SO: If your life were to be made into a big budget action flick, what would it be called?
Doug: HIGH VELOCITY
SO: Well played. That works on multiple levels. I would totally watch you as a red-eyed slacker action hero. We should make that happen. Thanks Doug!
*Photo by Robyn Von Swank