Icing: Look & Listen to Noah Britton’s “The Funniest Stuff You’ve Never Heard” ft Special Guests Joe Pera and Dan Licata
NOAH BRITTON, from the Boston sketch comedy trouble Asperger’s Are Us and the Duplass Brothers Productions’ docu-series On Tour With Asperger’s Are Us, has a comedy interview radio show out on the Safdie Brothers’ station (elara.fm) called “The Funniest Stuff You’ve Never Heard” where he interviews some notable names in the, you might have guessed, comedy world. Today we bring you the transcript of one of those interviews where he takes on NY comedian, writer and actor JOE PERA and DAN LICATA, NY writer & co-producer of Joe Pera Talks With You on Adult Swim. It’s a highly interesting, deep dive into what makes these gentlemen tick. Enjoy! (If you prefer the sound of people’s voices you can click on the SoundCloud audio link to the episode below.)
(Matt Farley’s “Funniest Stuff You’ve Never Heard” Theme Song plays)
Noah: Hello and welcome to ‘The Funniest Stuff You’ve Never Heard.’ I’m your host, Noah Britton.
Each episode of this show focuses on a funny person or group and goes in-depth for stuff even big fans don’t know.
Adult Swim’s ‘Joe Pera Talks with You’ is the rarest of things: A show that’s genuinely hilarious without ever getting dark or even confrontational.
As difficult as it is to imagine, it combines the pleasantness of a Family Circus comic strip with the absurd creativity of Andy Kaufman, a big influence on Joe Pera and his writer and fellow comedian Dan Licata, who’ve been doing comedy together for over a decade.
Most of America got its first taste of their work when the Dan-written episode ‘Joe Pera reads the church announcements’ of the first season of the show went viral
Noah: I’m glad you guys made it. Thank you so much.
Dan: Thanks for having us,
Noah: This is very exciting. The first question is Dan: What is your cantaloupe juice joke?
Dan: So, basically the joke is you know “How come there’s no cantaloupe juice? Right? Like are you telling me that they came up with tomato juice before they came up with cantaloupe juice? Yeah I wonder what that business meeting was like. ‘Hey we need to – guys we need a new juice – who’s got an idea?’
One guy’s like ‘How ’bout tomato?’ and they’re like ‘okay.’ Why’d it have to go like that?” That’s the joke…
Joe: You gotta finish it, Dan
Dan: “Why did have to go like that, right? Why couldn’t it have gone this way: ‘Okay guys we need a new juice. Who’s got an idea?’ ‘How about cantaloupe?’ Okay.” That’s the whole joke.
I hope the second part was worth it.
Noah: The second part did actually make it good. Before that I was like ‘this isn’t very good’ and then the second part it was really really good.
I have to say you guys write some of the smartest comedy out there. Last week when I was talking to Jamie Loftus I mentioned the joke-per-second ratio (which is very important in the stuff I like) you know like like how in ‘Airplane!’ you have to pay attention and every second there’s like multiple jokes happening at the same time and she does that really well and you guys have so many fast subtle jokes that aren’t explained.
(clip of ‘Joe Pera Talks with You’ Season 2 plays)
Noah: Another great, great subtle one is “a breakfast crew is a group of living individuals,” just like such a beautiful pointless explanation.
(clip of ‘Joe Pera Talks with You’ Season 1)
Joe, you and Jean suing yourselves to figure out how the judicial system works and there’s no payoff.
(clip of Joe Pera’s 2012 submission to the Andy Kaufman awards)
Noah: What do you think Andy Kaufman would be doing today if he hadn’t died of AIDS? Like, where would he be? He really did die of AIDS. Not many people know that.
Dan: Did he really? I did not know that
Noah: Yeah, in Bob Zmuda’s second book, which is terrible, Andy Kaufman’s ex-girlfriend reveals that.
Dan: Excellent question. I feel like I mean he probably gets stale or try to pivot to serious acting, I feel like. I don’t know. What do you think, Joe?
Joe: I don’t know. It’s hard to say. Didn’t they think there are rumors of him being in Arizona or somewhere?
Noah: There’s the rumors that he’s still alive but I think Lynn Margulies pretty much confirms he died of AIDS. Bob Zmuda in that whole book is like “Andy come back I know you’re hiding!” and, like, it’s so sad. Zmuda’s first book is amazing, as Joe and I know, that’s like the best book ever written. Dan, I think you’re right. The serious acting thing’s an interesting one. Do you think people become serious actors with maturity as comedians because they realize they’re not creative and fun anymore or is it just like a “I’m bored of that?”
Dan: Maybe it’s a combination of like boredom and then, I think, you know, the older you get, the tougher it is to stay fresh, and, you know, if you’re not performing super regularly maybe the desire to do something different kicks in. Me, personally, I will never be serious. If you catch me trying to be serious, something is wrong and I need you to beat the living hell out of me.
Noah: I thought your UCB documentary was pretty serious, Dan.
Dan: It’s been blowing up today, RIP.
Noah: Why did you have that footage?
Dan: I have hours and hours of musical improv footage that I ripped off of YouTube on my hard drive.
Noah: (laughs) Why?
Dan: Sometimes you need to test the limits of what you can withstand as a human.
(Noah and Joe laugh)
But one of the videos, my favorite, I wish I’d ripped this one before it got taken down. One of my favorite ones which is a perfect 30-minute improv like graduation show, I think I commented on it too much and they took it down. I was like – I would always comment like “I love this musical!” “Is the soundtrack available on CD or iTunes?” I’m just asking why there wasn’t costumes or sets. Next thing I knew it was gone, so you gotta rip those Youtube videos while they’re up because nothing gold can stay.
Noah: What’s the first funny thing you guys remember doing in high school?
Dan: Yeah I feel like the age of 14 maybe is when I started being funny.
Joe: Dan kind of like he had a reputation as like… you would do pranks and I think the teachers were somewhat amused by a lot of them. I was explaining how he put on women’s underwear and made our other friend pull his [Dan’s] pants down in front of one of the more attractive girls at our school and he was wearing women’s underwear, that was a good one.
Noah: Was she impressed?
Dan: I don’t think so. If she was, she didn’t communicate that to me.
Noah: So, related: What’s the funniest thing you guys have done that wasn’t released or recorded?
Joe: We did a lot of stand-up shows together. We had a cohost on our show, Charles Gould, and we did a weekly standup show for a while. We always made jokes about like replacing him and it was kind of mean but it was very funny how he’s sensitive about it and he always got nervous. But then we found one of the bartenders at the bar we were doing the show at looks exactly or, not exactly, but enough like him that it was very funny to bring him on stage and pretend that it was Charles when Charles wasn’t there, he had curly hair.
Noah: How did the bartender react to this, did he like improvise and play along?
Joe: Yeah, and the crowd loved it.
Noah: Were they fooled?
Joe: No it was like he looked enough – Eric Andre does the humor perfectly, where he gets somebody who looks, like, enough like them that they recognize it but different enough that it’s funny.
Noah: Like the Hulk, right. I wish I could get him on my show. Dan I’m going to play the ‘Ziggy Zoggy Boy’ or part of it at least. I thought that was such a beautiful thing. It’s too complicated to play all of, like there’s visual elements in the second half, but I’ll play the beginning for sure.
(clip of “Ziggy Zoggy Boy” plays)
Noah: What makes you guys laugh the hardest now?
Joe: I dunno, I always like to plug our friend Carmen Christopher. He’s so funny and I laugh so much every time he performs.
Noah: He was really great on your show, a very good actor
Joe: Yeah and he’s very serious when he kind of gets in his groove and decides that he’s going to bring it onstage or kind of go non-stop. So, him and Conner together pretty incredible to watch.
Noah: Conner O’Malley, of course, one of my favorite comics. That tour the three of you did was one of the best stand-up shows with just the most consistent laughs everywhere, and Dan did you improvise this joke when you were talking about ‘Avatar’ and you said “all I know is ‘blue lives matter’?”
Dan: I must’ve. I don’t remember saying it so it must have been.
Joe: That was a fun time.
Noah: That was so good. What are your future plans now?
Joe: Me and the director of ‘Joe Pera Talks with You’ are working on a b-roll special
Noah: Oh that’s awesome
Joe: We ended up shooting – like we had like two hours of footage of bridges and parking garages in Milwaukee just because you know stuff that gets cut from the show or I get an idea that I want a lot of footage of for a sequence and, I don’t know, we ended up filming like more rocks than we’ll ever need. It’s like when there’s really interesting ones we built in enough time to kind of film it. We kind of just pitched Adult Swim to let us repurpose that footage into something that’s kind of like relaxing to watch during what’s going on now.
Noah: So are you going to be talking or is it just going to be b-roll of rocks and streams?
Joe: Yep, just b-roll of rocks and streams.
Noah: (laughing) So, no narration?
Joe: Yeah, there’s narration that Dan helped me write. Yeah we turn it in a couple weeks and then hopefully it’ll come out shortly after that.
Noah: That’s the best.
Joe: Yeah it’s been nice to put my energy into that and it helps me feel calm
Noah: That’s wonderful. So, one other thing I’m gonna play is the “ten okays” scale on the pancake breakfast as just another example of something that’s so subtle
(clip of ‘Joe Pera’s Pancake Breakfast Reviews’ plays)
Noah: Dan, I’ve always wondered, do you feel like your stupid character who’s still in high school is a reaction against Dr. Licata’s like, scholarly world, or is it just like you-
Dan: I don’t even know
(clip of Dan Licata standup)
Noah: Did you grow up in a very academically driven household?
Dan: I wouldn’t – not really.
Joe: (laughing) I think there are maybe four books in the Licatas’ house.
Noah: OK, what’s the best movie ever made?
Dan: You mentioned it earlier, Noah, but I’m gonna say ‘Avatar.’ That movie revolutionized 3D. Where would we be without 3D right now? You can’t – that was a cultural phenomenon that everyone remembers, I’m gonna say ‘Avatar.’
Noah: They invented that. Yep, Joe?
Joe: It’s definitely not the best movie ever made. But my friend Marty and I were talking about the movie ‘Top Secret’ the other day. It’s not the best movie ever made but I remember laughing as hard at that as any movie.
Dan: I remember that one gag where he’s like writing on the jail cell wall. It’s like he’s only been there for 20 minutes. It was a good bit.
Noah: Do you know the impetus for that movie?
Noah: So Zucker, Abrahams, and Zucker were touring Europe doing publicity for ‘Airplane!’ and all the European press was asking “what’s big in America? Tell us news from America!” and they said “Oh, surf shooting. Yeah, you get on a surf board and you shoot stuff, that’s really big in America,” and all these European press people totally bought it. So then after they came back they were like “we need to make a movie about that” which obviously was just like one brief scene in ‘Top Secret.’
Joe: So funny.
Noah: What would you like to do if you weren’t in comedy?
Joe: Guy who designs remote controls.
Dan: I have to say inventor. I’d love to be an inventor.
Joe: (laughing) We should retire someday and get a big garage where we come up with inventions. You should start introducing yourself as an inventor.
Noah: I wanna play ‘Uncle Meme’ but I obviously can’t cuz it’s all visual, unfortunately, but that that was the funniest SNL sketch of the season. Did you write anything else that aired yet?
Dan: Uh, no.
Noah: How much how much have you written to them that they’ve turned down? Like, give me a number of sketches that have gone nowhere.
Dan: How many? I probably submitted 25 to 30 that got rejected.
Noah: 4 percent, that’s pretty good.
(Dan and Noah laugh)
Noah: Are you going to try the online home stuff?
Dan: I mean they want us to, but it it has been interesting having my ideas rejected from the comfort of my own home. I think they’re trying to figure out how to do this – make this work – so, I don’t know.
Joe: They should listen to you – we used to make plenty of videos from our apartment while we were living together. It was very easy and we did a really nice job I think.
Dan: It’s true.
Noah: You should submit those.
Dan: I think the only reason I’m not in the cast now is cuz I have stage fright and now that is not live maybe they’ll add me.
Noah: I think if anyone has stage fright it’s Dan Licata. I would love it if you would just submit those old videos to SNL. Be like “here. It’s done. Just air this.” Everyone would win.
Dan: Might as well just send them videos that – yea why not?
Joe: What was that one you did where you had Tomas film it?
Joe: Yeah, can you send that to SNL?
Dan: That one somehow I convinced some like blog that it had been selected for South by Southwest and they actually included it
Joe: Then the ‘Mad TV’ credits scroll and the ‘Mad’ theme song plays.
Dan: The credits are like twice as long as the actual-
Noah: what advice do you have for people for staying sane and healthy?
Dan: I’ve been taking Molly everyday so I don’t get depressed.
Joe: I’m a big proponent of taking walks. You take a walk and do… I don’t know… 5 push-ups.
Noah: (laughing) 5????
Noah: So Matt Farley from Motern Media is the house band for this radio program and as the house band he records a song about all the guests. So, last week we had Jamie Loftus but he already wrote a song about her so I used that one, but this week he, entirely, like he contacted me like “who’s your next interview?” and I was like “oh it’s Joe and Dan” and he was like “okay I’ll write a song just about them” so I will share with you guys the song Motern Media made
(Motern Media song plays)
Noah: Unlike our normal episodes, I can’t end with his song this week because I have to mention my favorite musical moment from anything on TV maybe ever which is the very close of ‘Joe Pera Talks with You,’ which ends with this amazing cover performed by Joe’s choir students of “Up on the Roof.” So, thanks a lot for coming, Dan and Joe, love you guys, looking forward to your new work and here is “Up on the Roof.”
(Clip of “Up on the Roof” from Joe Pera Talks with You)
Mentions: This interview was brought to the internet April 24th. More of “The Funniest Stuff You’ve Never Heard” on SoundCloud. Follow Joe Pera HERE and Dan Licata THERE. Dan & Joe image care of https://danlicatablog.tumblr.com.