Where do you go after leaving one of the most lauded comedy shows in history? Straight back to the stage.
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Comic actor (and former U.S. Marine) Rob Riggle has appeared in bit parts on Arrested Development, Human Giant, and The Office, though most know him for the last two years he spent as a correspondent—and go-to guy for man-child antics—on The Daily Show. Riggle ended his run with the show in December, but he’s not going anywhere: He’s currently developing a comedy for CBS in which he’ll star, a shift from the smaller parts he’s known to play. But first: a well-deserved respite from the rigors of industry work, courtesy of a national stand-up tour. Decider called Riggle before his shows at Comix on April 3-4 to chat about his life sans Daily Show and the bullies who picked on him as a kid.
Decider: Stand-up is relatively new for you, right?
Rob Riggle: Yeah, I’ve been doing it for going on a year and a half, two years. Because I was on The Daily Show, I would sneak out and do gigs on the weekend wherever I could. So I never got to tour.
D: What was the appeal?
RR: Something new. I started doing improv and sketch at the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York, so for nine years it was sketch and improv, sketch and improv, and that was it. So, very slowly, I put together an act and started doing it in little rooms in New York, basically any place that would let me come and do five minutes.
D: Do you remember those early shows?
RR: [Laughs] Yes I do. So awesome. You’re gonna get up there, and you’re gonna eat it, you’re gonna eat shit—pardon my language. But then out of that will come something.
D: How are you enjoying life post-Daily Show?
RR: Oh man, I’ve put on 30 pounds. I’m high as a kite every day. It’s pathetic. It’s great, actually. I’ve been very productive. It’s wonderful! [Laughs] I love it! I love it, I do. I’m actually—I feel like I’m getting my health back. I’m able to enjoy the air, work out, and eat right, and do all the things you say you’re gonna do but never, never do.
D: Was there trepidation in leaving the show?
RR: Always, yeah, because I love The Daily Show. John Oliver and I shared an office, we’re really good friends. I loved working there, I loved showing up every day and seeing what we were gonna be doing, and I’m gonna miss those guys terribly. So that stinks. But at the same time the opportunity was there and I had to think about my family.
D: Because you were on The Daily Show, do people expect you to do political stand-up material?
RR: I kind of put that on myself. I always thought people were expecting me to do political stuff. And to be honest, I don’t necessarily do a lot of political stuff. I’m kind of saturated with it, so I was always kind of like, “Can we talk about something else?”
D: Does your military background factor in? Given your insider perspective, are you comfortable taking cracks at war-related current events?
RR: I don’t think anybody is above ridicule. At the end of the day, is it funny? Then yeah, if someone’s sensibilities don’t think it’s funny because they’re so myopic on their issue then, well, sorry! Tough titty said the kitty, right?
D: What kind of kid were you?
D: Yeah, for some reason it’s hard to picture you as, well, a little you.
RR: [Laughs.] You know, I went through puberty late. I was a little, little, tiny kid. I was still growing in college. For most of my childhood, I was on the run, being chased by bigger kids. And I think that’s where I got my sense of humor, as a defense mechanism, or as a way to just hang around with bigger people and not get in trouble with them. Because I was a small, small man and all of a sudden I just got bigger. [Laughs.]
D: Have you seen these bullies at a high school reunion?
RR: Every now and then when I go back home to Kansas City or whatever, I’ll run into people and they’ll give me look like, “No, that can’t be Riggle. Riggle was this little scrawny rat!”