Icing: We Talked to Rock Star Comic DUSTIN CHAFIN About His Engaging One-on-One Interview Podcast I’LL LEAVE YOU WITH THIS
“Outlaw Comic” DUSTIN CHAFIN (as seen on HBO’s Crashing, Showtime and is a regular on Sirius XM) cannot be defined by comedy alone. The art history buff who dawns a cowboy hat is an ex-Mormon, Liberal Texan, Native American Choctaw who avidly reads Comedy Cake (I had to throw that true tidbit in.) With a highly interesting background like that, it is no wonder he is drawn to the lives of other intriguing artists in a podcast like I’ll Leave You With This. Of course, I’ve merely glazed over Chafin’s list of accomplishments, specifically his comedy ones. Just six degrees of separation away from many comics, Chafin has “self admittedly partied with the greats, burned some bridges (and then lit a few more on fire), gotten sober, run clubs, been kicked out of clubs, started new clubs, performed on TV, been on radio, toured with the USO, fought with his dad over stand-up, gotten into therapy, reunited with his dad, written for shows, mended relationships, ended relationships and all while getting on stage at least 6 nights a week in New York City.”
Having ran the Boston Comedy Club and helped open the Greenwich Village Comedy club with Al Martin, he’s rubbed shoulders with familiar comedy names and helped foster comedic talents like Pete Holmes, Nate Bargatze, Joe DeRosa and many others. So it’s no surprise he’s started a podcast where he interviews comics and and other engrossing artists. I’ll Leave You With This was brought to life together with fellow comedian and producer Anthony Kapfer. After 15 episodes, Kafner and your dear host are still around and the podcast was signed byAuthentic Management (West World, Marvel movies), with some Adlarge media backing. Just some of Chafin’s guests have included Laurie Kilmartin, Mike Vecchione, Nate Batgatze, Jessica Kirson, Calise Hawkins, Carmen Lynch, and Emma Willman. We had the opportunity to pick Dustin’s brain about this laid back plunge into the minds of captivating people and I believe you won’t be able to stop reading. Enjoy and LISTEN to the podcast today!
COMEDY CAKE: You spend a great deal of time around comedians, what made you want to dedicate more time speaking with them one-on-one in a podcast setting?
DUSTIN CHAFIN: I’ve done a few podcasts in the past. One of my favorites was Hick Hop, which was live on LatinoRadio.FM (also available to download). It was a fun, dynamic show, dialoguing about issues with friend and fellow comedian Kyle Grooms. Plus, we would usually have two or three comic guests on per episode. A room full of comics can be a lot of fun, but it can also turn into a roast battle and someone is always trying to jump in to be heard. I wanted something more intimate with this podcast. As the youngest in my family, I’m so over trying to compete with other people to get a word in. The one-on-one interview style has a depth to it that I’ve always been drawn to. Oprah, Barbara Walters and Charlie Rose (before the very bad thing happened) always took it to another level with no distractions. I’m also a from-the-beginning-fan of Marc Maron and WTF. He was always a comic I watched in the early days. There’s an honesty to him that makes you comfortable and uneasy at the same time. I really love that! You want to take a risk and let it all out. I do spend a lot of time with comedians and we are some of the most interesting and passionate people you will ever meet. I’m fascinated by anything comics have to say, from hell gigs, to the struggle of how their family interacts with them, their fights with addiction and how they manage it, even what kind of food they eat on the road, all of it, every step. I feel most comedians could be successful in other fields but a lot of us chose comedy, or it chose us, because of the many challenging aspects and the unpredictability of it. The addiction to laughter, chasing that great set night after night, can make you slightly insane and also more fulfilled than anything you’ve ever done in your life. I want to hear everyone’s story, in many ways it’s cathartic for me, in not being alone in this crazy craft and I get to laugh a lot! I hope it does the same for our audience!
CAKE: How would you say your podcast stands out from the sea of others?
CHAFIN: There is a sea of programming now. A plethora of radio talk shows, tv shows, web series, etc. to choose from. The platform of podcasting can get a little overwhelming due to the accessibility of it. It seems that every third person has a podcast these days; I think even my mom is starting one. But that’s also what’s great about podcasts, there can be as many stories to tell as there are different people to tell them. My podcast is unique because it is specific to my voice and my experiences. I’m a Liberal Texan, an ex-Mormon comedian, who has ten years sober and wears a cowboy hat in New York City. I’m all over the place. My POV and where I come from are intertwined with the questions I ask my interviewees and the stories we share. I also have a special relationship to my guests. You know Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, it’s the idea that anyone involved in the Hollywood film industry can be linked through their film roles to Bacon within six steps. Well most comedy names can make their way to me in one way or another. I have been in and around the New York Comedy scene, running rooms and performing, for a long time. I was with Dave Chappelle the night before he went to Africa. Pete Holmes and Nate Batgatze barked people into comedy shows I was running when they were first starting out. Greg Giraldo was my sponsor. I have these weird connections with so many people that I think spawn unusual stories and insight into the comedy world. I’m so excited to have the opportunity to share them and hear more!
CAKE: What’s been the best part of picking the brains of fellow performers?
CHAFIN: The best part is seeing people that I haven’t talked to in really long time or that I haven’t spoken to much outside of a comedy club. The running line for me is that it takes booking someone on a podcast so you can hang out and catch up with people you like. Sometimes I don’t know my guests that well, but we usually know the same people or have done some of the same gigs. We (comics) are all a band of brothers and sisters. It’s great connecting. Doing stand-up for a living is such a rare thing and it’s great to just be in a room with someone who gets your life. It’s amazing getting to hear stories of successful moments, where people almost gave up but took a chance, wrote their own show, talked to “that person” or applied for “that writing job” and got it after the twentieth rejection. I love hearing about the journey!
CAKE: Now that “I’ll Leave You With This” is under new management, has anything dramatically changed so far?
CHAFIN: Well “old management” was just me and my creative blood brother, fellow comedian and producer, Anthony Kapfer. I would interview comics in hotel rooms, comedy clubs and often in their cars. Authentic Management signed the show this year and we are also under the umbrella of Adlarge Media. For starters, we now have a studio with state of art equipment and a great team behind the show. Rick Dorfman and Josh Cohen at Authentic are very supportive in helping me get the show where I want it to go. The resources are helping us gain a larger audience and get sponsors for the show.
CAKE: Did you have a list of comedians you wanted to interview before you started the podcast?
CHAFIN: Not really a list, more like a foxhole of comedy soldiers that I’ve known along the way and I’m also continually seeking out newer artists who are doing interesting work.
CAKE: What would you characterize as the craziest “green room conversation” you’ve had on the podcast to date?
CHAFIN: I don’t know if it’s the craziest thing ever but listening to Yamanieka Saunders tell her story of being booed at the Apollo and looking out and seeing her family boo her from the audience had me laughing in tears!
CAKE: What would you like to be the takeaway for the audience after listening to each episode?
CHAFIN: I would hope you get to know all of us a little bit better. I hope people take away the passion that artists have for their work. What we all sacrifice to able to create art night after night and not always in the best of circumstances. I hope we inspire those who want to do something but are maybe unsure or are stuck in a rut; I hope this podcast makes them feel like they can go for it. I also hope that everyone gets a good laugh because there are some really funny moments!
CAKE: Having been in the business 20 years and running, what acts still make you laugh out loud?
CHAFIN: I assume you mean people who are still alive? My current favorite is Anthony Jeselnik – his misdirects are so dark and hilarious! These are also some favorites: Dave Attell, Mike Britt, Doug Stanhope, Sarah Silverman, Nate Bargatze, Leah Bonnema, Pete Holmes, TJ Miller, Laurie Kilmartin, Katt Williams and Steven Wright. But there are so many others. I’m a great audience member; I love to laugh!
CAKE: What podcasts do you enjoy listening to in your free time?
CHAFIN: Burning Bridges with Kevin Brennan. We did a crossover episode which was such a fun experience, he makes me laugh so hard! Drinks Jokes and Story Telling is a great one and of course WTF. Outside of comedy podcasts, I like The Lonely Palette with host Tamar Avishai, he gets people excited about art history (which is not so easy these days). He interviews unsuspecting museum goers and gets an honest view of how people look at art in today’s world. I went to art school and am a bit of an art nerd.
CAKE: Can you give us a sneak peak of upcoming guests we can expect to hear from?
CHAFIN: We have the host of Comedy Knockout on TruTV , Damien Lemon, coming up next. I’m excited to say that Dave Attell and Robert Kelly will be appearing on the show soon! I’m also branching out from solely standup comedians and will be having some authors, musicians and other types of artists on. I have Derick Lugo, who hiked the Appalachian Trail by himself and wrote his memoir about the experience, coming up. (I met him while working at a comedy club.) Comedians will always be the life force of the show, but I also want to seek out other types of artists with great stories to tell.
CAKE: What projects do you have coming up that you can tell us about?
CHAFIN: In 2019 I’m launching a new podcast & video series centered around my Native American Choctaw heritage and the plight of native people in America today. I’m also working on a solo show about being raised in Texas, my days as a Mormon Missionary in South America and my journey to becoming a stand-up comic in NYC. I plan on recording this show and releasing it as my next album. AND, last but definitely not least, we’re going to have some live audience shows for I’ll Leave You With This coming soon!