To look at Chris Distefano you’d never know – and he’d never readily tell – that he’s completely kicking 2019’s ass right now.
The Staten Island comedian just wrapped up a three-night headline appearance at Punch Line Philly over the weekend as part of a nationwide comedy tour. He also inked a deal with Comedy Central to include multiple projects, most notably a one-hour stand-up special, Size 38 Waist which debut to rave reviews.
It’s a deal that Forbes Magazine described as the blueprint for future comics to aspire to with the network, with an animated series, an unscripted series and the continuation of his Friday night series, Stupid Questions with Chris Distefano, renewed for another season.
However, to get Distefano to tell you anything is easier said than done. It’s not him being cagey more as it comes from a place of humility as he will readily admit that he’s still surprised himself at just how much his life has changed since the start of the new year.
On the eve of his three-night, sold-out stand-up at Punch Line, we sat down with Distefano, to see if he’s pinched himself into the reality he’s now facing as a widely successful – and now, highly sought after comic.
What’d you think of Philly?
I’ve been to Philly you know bunch of times both personally and professionally. I’ve done mostly stuff at Punch Line but I’ve been other places too. Philly…it’s such an honest audience, like it’s brutally honest. I like that attitude. I’m from New York and I love performing in front of East Coast fans. To me, the best fans in the world are the ones that are brutally honest. You get that at a place like [Punch Line Philadelphia].
So the past couple of months for you have been fucking awesome, wouldn’t you say?
It’s been absolutely unbelievable, man. I go into these interviews knowing what the questions guys like you are going to ask, but I’m still at a loss because I’m still in shock myself. Being able to produce a stand-up about my life and to have an unscripted show, it’s just so wild but so great. I know people may know who I am from my old TV days and some of the stuff I’ve done on radio, but a lot of people have never really seen my standup in long form like that. It was cool to have an opportunity to and to get an opportunity to showcase me in full force. So far all the all the feedback has been pretty positive.
Even though you were a regular on MTV, you still felt like you were on the outside looking in a bit? What’s the transition been like?
Honestly, I think now I have validation from my [comic] peers that I can do stand-up comedy. I’m in a room now chatting with respected New York stand-up legends who acknowledge my stand-up now. There’s so many good comics out there now, but there are little breaks that bring your game to another level. Where you go from being a YouTube star to someone that can do stand-up and sell tickets. It’s a Big League feeling not a lot of comedians get a chance to experience, so yeah, I feel very fortunate.
Your Comedy Central special, Size 38 Waist was great, but it was the first time you had to tackle a one-hour comedy special. What’s it like having to be funny for an hour?
You have to work really hard towards being good for an hour. I worked extremely hard. So hopefully people saw that when they saw the special.
Talk about those holy shit moments, where your material just isn’t working out. What’s that feeling like and how does a good comic overcome the embarrassment?
You know when you first start out that’s a fear? Like you’re literally in a green room being like, ‘Oh my God what if I bomb?’ But honestly, the minute you realize that the opportunity to bomb is more prevalent than you know and that’s it’s part of the process, you begin to relax a lot more. I don’t look forward to bombing, you know, nobody really does, but I’ve learned so much from it and that you just have to have fun with it. I mean, the crowd may just not like you, is a reality. I just have a plan every time I go out on stage and know that sometimes it just not going to work out.
Of all the work you have now, what’s perhaps the one thing you’re most excited about?
The only thing I want in my career now and the only goal that I have is to sell tickets. I want to be the comedian that people want to come see. Laughter is therapy and we live in a world where people want it. You want to be the person they choose to provide that therapy. So I’m really trying to bring a bit more awareness about my standup. People are starting to come out to the shows and I feel like that is what I really most excited about. I mean I have a scripted show and a scripted cartoon with Comedy Central and I’m extremely excited that all that stuff will work out. But being able to have a really good show in front of a packed club. You know all those people there to see me and enjoy my comedy so that’s what I’m most excited about.
You still get nerves though, right?
If anything it’s not nerves, it’s more like excitement like before a big game.
How often are you getting recognized?
You know man, that’s probably the best part about all of this, is that I’m really not. Sure, some people come up and will say hello, but for the most part I can walk down any street unrecognized. It’s not like a Kevin Hart or a Jerry Seinfeld who can’t walk anywhere without being mobbed. I just bought a house in New York City and no one knows me. I like that I can make money doing what I love and enjoy my life walk around freely. To be a success but still have anonymity is a huge plus.