Normally, when you think of the perfect space for comedy – that room that delivers all you want in a club – you don’t really think of Vegas. However, it appears comedian John Caparulo found true success in recording his newest album/special – “Come Inside Me” just off the bright lights of Sin City.
Caparulo’s career has been every comics dream, appearing all across the country, owning Comedy Central specials, and performing on a shit ton of television shows. He’s also found great success being a part of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour and Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Tour. Yet while those have been great for him, it seems Caparulo hold an immense amount of respect and thanks for E!’s “Chelsea Lately.”
Caparulo’s recently spoke with me for TSJ about his album, being on “Chelsea Lately,” and why being known as Blue Collar has been a love/hate experience.
The Smoking Jacket: So, the new album – “Come Inside Me” – you recorded the new album in Vegas, right?
John Caparulo: Yeah, at a place called South Point. It’s a great place! If you look at the stage it looks like a theater but it’s only a 500-seat place. It’s intimate but has a theater look; that’s why I love it.
My opinion has always been that the best comedy rooms are the tight rooms, the living room-type rooms. I feel most comfortable in those. It seems that the tighter it is the more fun it is. I wanted to keep that for the special. Specials are supposed to be a “big deal,” but I didn’t want it to seem that way, you know?
“I’m from Ohio – we can make fun of ourselves. Yeah, we’re not the best. We know that, but we can make the best of it! No one gets offended when you make fun of Ohio.”
TSJ: I get that. Plus if you’re comfortable in a small room it will obviously be a better show.
JC: Absolutely! I wanted to capture what I do nightly instead of feeling like I have to put on a real big show.
TSJ: It’s funny; I imagine when comics are younger they can’t wait to play in front of larger crowds, but when you get there, I imagine you yearn for the small spaces.
JC: You really do! When I started, I was a 21-year-old kid, you know? All of my friends were putting effort into things like college and getting jobs. I was like I don’t want one of those. Then, when things start picking up in comedy, it’s great! However, then your idea of wanting to perform in front of thousands of people sort of drifts off and you’re like I want that coffee shop again. That was nice. You miss it. You want a support group. [laughs] You change with experience.
TSJ: I guess I’m just surprised that you chose Vegas to get that experience.
JC: I get what you mean, but believe it or not, that club gives that feel. Also, I like cities that don’t take themselves too seriously. I’m from Ohio – we can make fun of ourselves. Yeah, we’re not the best. We know that, but we can make the best of it! No one gets offended when you make fun of Ohio.
Some people, when you make fun of their city, are like tread lightly! You feel like you’re invading their space. You never feel like that with Vegas because nobody is really from Vegas…kind of like LA. There’s nothing off limits in Vegas. I can say whatever I want; I don’t have to adjust it for an audience.
TSJ: I love the story behind the album title, “Come Inside Me.” How did you settle on that?
JC: My wife came up with it, believe it or not [laughs]. The story where that came from, it true. I have this weird thing – when I think of something I think is funny I have to say it. And when I did on this particular night my wife was just like, Okay, we’re done. [laughs] But when it became a bit she saw the humor in it.
So, I was thinking of titles and kept coming up with different ones from different bits; maybe something with blue-collar because I’m associated with that, which I like and don’t like, but I was kicking around a lot. And one day I came home and she suggested, “Come Inside Me.” Initially, I wasn’t onboard. I didn’t think people would have a frame of reference for the joke; I just thought it’d be really, really weird. But as I thought about it I was like, That’s perfect, actually! It jumps off the page. So, it was all due to my wife.
TSJ: This is your second album. How do you feel about it compared to the other?
JC: I think it’s so much better. Everyday, I feel like I’m better at comedy than I was the day before. Even with this special…I filmed it and so much time has gone between that and now. I feel like I’m so much better than I was in April. [laughs] But I think that’s normal; you grow within this industry.
I always try to get better. I really don’t want to be a guy that came out with one good one and then everything else is building off the notoriety I got from that. That’s never good.
TSJ: You mentioned earlier that you like and don’t like the fact that you’re associated with Blue Collar Comedy. Why?
JC: I like being associated with that genre because I come from a very blue-collar background. I come from a very working, lower-middle-class family. We were a small family in a small town in Ohio. But Blue Collar comedy – I’m not southern; I don’t listen to country; I don’t read the bible…I’m not a redneck. [laughs] If anyone knows me there’s nothing like that about me.
I just don’t like how people don’t give you a chance if you’re associated with Blue Collar comedy. I’ve encountered some people who think I’ve created a character, and that is so far from the truth. Who I am onstage is who I am.
TSJ: I think anyone who does research and sees that you were not only part of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour but also Vince Vaughn’s Wild West tour and even a regular on “Chelsea Lately,” they’d see there’s more. The audiences are so different.
JC: You would hope. [laughs] Comedians drive themselves crazy over everything. If one person thinks that way about me, everyone thinks that way about me.
TSJ: All of those different types of crowds, do you approach your act differently depending on where you are?
JC: Not really. I find myself adapting to whatever audience is in front of me. If you go certain places you may have to adjust your act a little, but then again, you have to be yourself. You don’t make fun of Alabama IN Alabama, you know? It’s like a conversation, you are still you but you adjust the topics and the way you’re talking a bit. You don’t go to someone’s house and be a dick. [laughs] But no matter what, I am honest.
TSJ: I wanted to ask about “Chelsea Lately.” You say it’s the most fun talk show to be on. Why is that?
JC: When you go on any other late night show you you’re going to do five minutes and will have to run your set by the producer, which is going to get in your head. On “Chelsea Lately,” we don’t have to do set material. It’s on the fly, and I love that. I think if you’re a really good comic you should be able to bite at that, kick it around, and do it. I love sports and hate celebrity gossip, but I love talking about that on her show. It’s fun and it is genuinely as spontaneous as it looks.
I did a panel on “The Tonight Show” last fall, and they told me ahead of time – like several days – what the topics were. The writing staff gave me jokes, which was weird because I write my own. On Chelsea, they tell you that day, just talk about it before the show, and go. And you can’t even marry yourself to those jokes because things can instantly change there. It’s amazing! That’s what makes it fun.
TSJ: It seems like she’s very supportive of having up and comers on the show.
JC: Totally! She is so unselfish with her platform. There’s a lot of greed in show business and it doesn’t seem to apply to her. She’s glad to share her success. It’s not like her and I hung out, but I can’t thank her enough. She’s been awesome!