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Adam Carolla doesn’t give a shit what you think about him. The former The Man Show and Loveline co-host has always been a blunt guy’s guy who spills words freely, but until about five or six years ago, he was only asked to speak on a certain number of topics—namely, guys’ stuff. Then came his radio show, and a new man was revealed: Carolla as broad commentator. Now he’s covering a range of topics from border control to birth control.
The Adam Carolla Show has since moved from radio to podcast and, according to some accounts, it is the world’s most downloaded podcast—ever. Last fall he released a book that continues to play off of his sometimes gruff, always pontifical view of life and manhood, aptly titled In Fifty Years We’ll All Be Chicks. And recently, with his upcoming stand-up performance tonight at The Pabst, Carolla spoke with The A.V. Club about asshole entertainment journalists, the definition of a man, and what he believes poor people should stop doing right now.
The A.V. Club: How often do you look at your own Wikipedia page?
Adam Carolla: I don’t know that I have, actually. A lot of people follow themselves that way, and mostly, it’s never good. You don’t cruise the Internet looking for your name and walk away with a good feeling. So, I never do it.
AVC: In one of the first paragraphs on your Wikipedia page, sort of glaringly, is your high school GPA. How does it feel to have your high school GPA on the top of your Wikipedia page?
AC: They usually take the worst stuff and put it up front. It’ll be like: “Hates Hawaiians. Did The Man Show. Father of twins.” They’ll grab weird stuff from the past and just chuck it up toward the front. So I never look at that. But I don’t have to look at it, because I talk to A-holes like you, and they just point stuff out to me all of the time.
One of the things I’ve learned in life is that you can’t pursue that kind of stuff. You’ll go insane. Sometimes I’ll be cruising around on Twitter, and I’ll see a Tweet that’s like, “So-and-so wants to punch you in the face.” And that so-and-so will be someone who does a podcast—their name not recognizable to me—but it’s a guy who does a show, and for like one minute you’re like, “Let’s investigate. Who is this guy?” But I’ve learned to move right on. Eventually people point the stuff out to me, saying like, “Hey, have you heard what so-and-so is saying?”
Then it’s this horrible situation where, even if you try to shield yourself for a minute and try to focus on cars or any of this mechanical stuff I do in life, you can’t. In general, I’m completely different [in my personal life]. I told somebody last night, when they were talking to me about comedy, I told them: “I love cars, I love vintage racing, I love collecting cars, I love architecture and houses. And comedy to me is basically what prostitution is to a junkie; comedy is what helps me get cars.” Meaning, [cars] are my drug, and I just do [comedy] to pay the bills. I’m good at it, and I enjoy it, but I don’t get that far into it. I’ve never accused someone of stealing one of my jokes, and I have no idea what’s going on, basically.
AVC: Right. One thing that stands out about you, which has maybe led to your success as a comedian, is that you’re very opinionated. Are you naturally this opinionated? Does anyone ever ask you something and you’re ambivalent about the question, or do you always have this strong visceral reaction where you know immediately what you think?
AC: I usually have a strong reaction, and I usually know what I think, because it’s based on psychology more than political dogma or having to pick a side. So, I always form an opinion. Maybe part of it is that it’s my job, but you don’t hear the phrase “I’ll have to give that some more thought” come out of my mouth very often. I usually have an opinion, and for the most part stick to it.
AVC: You have a lot of political opinions, and since The Donald is on our collective mind: Would you ever consider running for an elected position of some kind?
AC: I probably wouldn’t, just because I’m more private than that, and the way that, currently, things are set up—well, the money you’d have to raise to do that—it sounds utterly all-consuming. And also, in this day and age, where everyone starts digging up dirt and bringing your family into it, that whole thing, I couldn’t imagine putting myself, or anyone I know, through that crazy scrutiny. Plus I’ve killed some hookers, and I’d hate for anyone to dig that up. You have to go a bit deeper into Wikipedia to see that.
But would I make a good fill-in-the-blank—governor, president, mayor? Yes, I would, because I would do everything based on psychology. I’d have no religion cluttering my thinking, no party lines cluttering my thinking. I would be Jane Goodall studying the chimps, saying, “Well, here’s what makes them angry, and here’s what makes them docile, and here’s how you treat them. And if you want them to go to school you treat them this way, and if you want them to stay out of trouble you treat them this other way, and if you want them to get a job you treat them the other way.” It would be purely psychology and sociological. I’m not interested in the moral implications of anything. If we’re trying to get unwanted kids out of here, less crime, more kids graduating from high school, well, let’s just go ahead and figure out the best way to go and do it.
I would encourage stupid people and poor people to stop shitting out kids. That would be the first reason I wouldn’t get elected is because I would say, “Hey, poor people! Stop shitting out kids that you can’t afford!” And then someone would say, “Hey, that’s racist!” And I would say, “I didn’t pick out a specific group of people.” And then they’d say, “Yeah, but most of those people are Latino,” or whatever they are, and then that would be it. It would be over.
AVC: Right ... not sure how well that would work.
AC: It wouldn’t work at all, but really it’s the only problem we have. If you want to talk about [how to fix] school lunches or crime or unemployment or lack of education: “Poor people, stop crapping out kids.” No politician is ever going to say that. But really, it’d be it. They’d ask me: “What are you going to do about poverty?” And I’d say: “Poor people, stop crapping out kids.” “What are you going to do about crime?” I’d say, “Poor people, stop crapping out kids.” They’d say, “What are you going to do about education?” I’d say, “Poor people, stop crapping out kids.” For me, it would just get back to the same answer that no one else would touch.
AVC: Now well into your career, you have gained more freedom than you’ve ever had before, especially with your podcast. It seems like you’ve become more opinionated. Is that the case? Or is it just that you’re in a setting where you can share your opinions more freely?
AC: Well, when you’re doing The Man Show, you’re doing The Man Show. When you’re doing a radio show, you can express yourself. It’s weird because people know you from a certain format, and they’re like, “Where were all of these opinions when you were doing Dancing With The Stars?” And it’s like, well, I was doing Dancing With The Stars ...
But if you’re sitting around talking, you’re going to have a lot more opinions coming out. It’d be like going out to dinner with a game show host. You go out to dinner with Pat Sajak, and I’m sure he’d give you a couple of opinions, and you might be like, “Hey, where are all of these opinions coming from?” Pat on the game show can’t be like, “The next clue is a phrase,” and then start spouting off about the atrocities in Darfur. He has to do his job.
AVC: Would you say that now you’re more of a personality than a comedian?
AC: Yeah, I guess. I don’t know. Back in the day, you had guys named Shecky [Green] and Sammy Shore and Rodney Dangerfield, and they got up there and they told jokes. It was a way different time. I look at it as a waste of time to do the “Hey, my girlfriend just dumped me today.” That’s just empty calories. Even if it’s funny, you’re not saying anything; you’re just standing up there and telling jokes. I think comedy has evolved like every art form, and people probably do less standing around and telling jokes, and more things that have to do with reality.
AVC: So much of what you do now on your podcast seems to be you improvising commentary. Do you ever get worried that because of what you say, because of all of this improvising, and the sheer amount of talking that you do, that there will be some kind of backlash? Or do you just know your audience, and go in knowing that your audience is all for who you are?
AC: I don’t worry about what I say. I’ve gotten into trouble for what I say in the past, but I never worry about it. I know there are a lot of pussy troublemakers out there who try to bend everything and twist everything and turn people into a homophobe or a bigot or a misogynist, and really, I don’t give a shit. I’m a good person. I’d never hurt another person. I’m a family guy, I have kids, and am married.
Old-style bigots gotta be laughing their asses off at comedians being called bigots when they never do anything. Like Sarah Silverman can tell a couple of Asian jokes, and all of a sudden she’s racist? Yeah, this 110-pound Jewish chick who hangs out on the West Side with her gay friends and never hurts a human being? Shit, that’s today’s version of a racist? What is she doing? Getting a rally going? Burning a cross? Firebombing a synagogue or a black church? That’s so insane. I don’t have time for it. It’s one thing if you’re a politician or in the church. But really, comedians? It’s a weird thing isn’t it?
AVC: Several interviews and blurbs about you, strangely, describe you as the kind of guy who “tells it like it is.” What does it mean when someone tells it like it is?
AC: That’s probably just bad writing, using a fucked-out cliché because they’re not more creative as journalists or scribes. If I think about something, I say it. It’s what I’m thinking. I don’t know how other people work; I don’t know what their process is. I have observations, and I will share those observations with anyone who wants to listen to me. Sometimes they’re funny; sometimes they’re not. Sometimes they resonate with you; sometimes they do not. Sometimes you’re offended, and sometimes you’ll cheer. Whatever it is, I’ll give you my opinion, because it’s my job.
AVC: Manliness is a big theme in your career. And now there’s your book, In Fifty Years We’ll All Be Chicks, which suggests a kind of anti-manliness in the future. Thinking broadly, what do you think it means to be a man?
AC: You know, I’ve never really thought about it. I think the ultimate thing about being a man, really, is living up to your word. Your word is your bond. If you say to someone you will do this, you do it. And that includes your kids. If you have kids, you’ll take care of those kids. That to me is the ultimate version of being a man. We’d be living in a utopia if every guy who had kids was man enough to pay for those kids and raise those kids. You can talk about fixing your car or winning a bar fight. But the reality is, raise your family, love your kids, don’t raise your hand to anyone who doesn’t deserve it. Just be a dad. It’s scary all of the dudes willing to have kids who just split. That should be frowned upon way more than it is.