WWhen Michael Kosta filmed his new stand-up special almost a year ago, he said, “I didn’t think people would watch just because they say, ‘Oh wow, that’s good to go. elsewhere.'”
Detroit. NEW YORK. THE., which will be released on Comedy Central on Friday, December 11 at 11 p.m., traces the career of the comedian, from his beginnings in his native Michigan to his first big breaks. Tonight’s show in Los Angeles then The daily show in New York, where he is currently the only white male correspondent.
“I’ve always bragged about being someone who can make different audiences laugh wherever I am,” Kosta tells me in this bonus episode of The last laugh Podcast. “I thought that was the definition of a stand-up comic. If I’m on a cruise ship, if I’m at a funeral home, if I’m at a children’s show, my job is to make everyone laugh everywhere.
He saw comedians who only did well on the coast, or who only did well in the middle of the country, and who deliberately wanted to make sure they could do both. “Sometimes in ‘real America’ people laugh at the joke because they just heard a word – not because they understand the joke,” says Kosta. “And sometimes in ‘fake America’ or coastal America, you make people laugh because they think it’s smart, not because it’s really funny.”
In the new special, he says growing up in Michigan and touring across the country made him less surprised than most of those coastal elites were by Trump’s 2016 victory.
That election night, he was playing at the Los Angeles Comedy Store where people “cried in the streets” over the result. The next day he says it happened in Erie, Pa., Where people “were crying with happiness.” This time around, he expected Biden to win, but was “surprised at how close it was. He adds, “I was surprised that 70 million people have lived through the past four years and I said, yes, let’s do more of this.”
Despite its position on The daily show, Kosta tries to stay away from politics as much as possible in his stand-up act. On a scale from George Carlin to Steve Martin, he likes to exist on the dumber end of the spectrum. Hence a bit of how Leonardo DiCaprio is always wet in his movies and another of how people take anything and everything from their homes when traveling by car.
“George Carlin and Steve Martin made me laugh,” he says. “I try to be me and not be one of them, but I don’t want to be a speaker up there. I want people to leave feeling like they had a good time.
Highlights of our conversation are below and you can listen to it all right now by subscribing to The last laugh on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Being the symbolic white correspondent of The Daily Show
“For a while there they had like five white penpals, you know? And I think about it now and I say, “How did they choose who did what? Now with me, if there’s a white man story, I know I’ll figure it out! Look, the show evolves, the show adapts, the show takes the point of view of its host. Trevor [Noah] is not white. He’s not a white American. He presents his point of view, which is different from most other TV hosts right now. Do i say to The daily show, after five or six sketches, “Hey, can’t I get my balls kicked on this one?” And they were like, it’s not because you’re white, it’s because you’re new. But I also understand that the tall, white, straight guy who is the butt of the joke is also sometimes funnier.
“I also understand that the tall, straight white man who is the butt of the joke is also sometimes funnier.“
How he felt when ‘The Daily Show’ went virtual in March
“I didn’t think it was smart what we were doing. I said, “Are you guys crazy? You know, we’re all in tiny apartments in New York City. Some of us have a good internet connection, some don’t. And I was completely wrong. I mean, part of the momentum we got was because Trevor and the executive producers said, why would we stop? I like an audience. I want an audience. There’s a reason I went on stand-up, without making YouTube videos. So I have to admit that I filmed some of these parts and when sending the files I tell myself it’s terrible, it’s not funny. And then they put it back together and it’s like, ‘Oh, okay, that worked.’ But it is strange. When I talked to Trevor at the very beginning, I said, how are you there, man? And he said to me, “This is the strangest comedy experience of my life. So it’s weird, but I love money and I also love to eat and if that’s how you try to make people laugh now, that’s fine with me. As long as it’s temporary.
How he thinks late-night comedies will change after Trump
“I think the general population thinks comedy can’t exist without this guy in power. They are professional comedians, they are professional comedy writers. They can make a situation fun no matter who is in office. In fact, it almost looks like a handy fruit, sometimes when you just have to present the tweet and it gets a laugh. We almost have the impression that we are just aggregators. We’re just like pulling the fun clip and see if we can repeat it. Even as a stand-up, people say, ‘Oh, now that you don’t have Trump, what are you going to talk about? I would much rather talk about wrapping drunk or trying to wash your hands when the faucet isn’t working or living with your parents. I think these are more universal and more fun than that internet troll who became president.
Next week on The last laugh Podcast: Jason Mantzoukas, star of “Big Mouth”.
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