I met comedian Christian Finnegan at the entrance of Paresky after his show Saturday night. The show had just ended as I walked into Baxter Hall.
Did you even see the show?
Well I saw the first half. Then I had to leave for my boy’s birthday party.
[He seems put-off as we walk downstairs into the basement of Paresky.]
I’ve seen you on VH1’s Best Week Ever and on “The Mad Real World” from Chappelle’s Show. What was it like?
What was it like?! [I cannot tell if he is offended or simply angry as he mocks my overarching question.] I thought it was going to be good but I didn’t know – and you can’t really tell beforehand – that it was going to be the s—-.
Why do you think it was so successful?
Comedy Central stepped out of the way and allowed [creators] Dave [Chappelle] and Neal Brennan to have complete control over it. I think the best way it can be done is to leave creative people alone. That’s why I like stand-up: it’s just you. If you fail, it’s on you.
Would you consider making your own TV show?
I would – sure. Who wouldn’t? A lot of people do stand-up as a means for an end and that’s not me. I look at people like Chris Rock and George Carlin who were in movies but were truly stand-up comedians.
So what’s the weirdest moment you’ve had while giving stand-up?
GIVING stand-up?! [He is incredulous and seems, again, offended.] Yeah I gave stand-up twice last night [he says in a deep-throated and very sarcastic tone]. The thing about stand-up [he returns to a sincere tone] is that it’s consistently humbling. You reach your highest highs and lowest lows in the just minutes while you’re on stage. But you have to look at it like baseball: it’s about averages. I follow my mantra: good set, bad set – I’m still in my undies checking my e-mail at the end of the night.
But I’m not trying to be a politician or anything. I’m just making articulate d—k jokes.
Articulate d—k jokes …
But that was definitely my first knitter. [He references the point in the show when he called out a middle-aged woman in the audience for knitting]. Why, why – why would you bring your knitting? How detached from normal interactions do you have to be to think that knitting in this kind of setting is acceptable?!
Yeah, who were those people? [Referring to the knitter and her male companion] Did you see what she was knitting?
I was actually backing off some things because of that couple. I have some more raunchy things that I shied away from because the guy would look at his wife after some of the jokes, kind of saying, “Oh, can I laugh at that?” But no, I didn’t see what she was knitting.
So you talked about Williamstown a little bit in your show.
Oh yeah, a little bit. [He laughs and uses a sarcastic tone] I saw all three of your restaurants. It is definitely quaint. But seriously, this is the type of school I wished I’d gone to. I went to NYU and it was great being in New York City but –
Are you saying that you could have gotten in here?
[Pauses, and then says slowly and deliberately] I’m gonna go out on a limb – I’m actually a genius.
I’m not sure, I did hear a lot of d—k jokes.
But they were articulate d—k jokes. I got into the intelligent part of my show after you left.
Oh really? So you saw me leave and then decided to go into it.
But you wouldn’t know, because you were at your bro’s, or your boy’s party.
My boy. It was my boy’s party.
[Finnegan references “Woodward and Bernstein” about the interview. He seems to be making a statement about journalism but I am not familiar with this duo – maybe they are rappers. He sees my blank stare and is yet again angry and offended. Before more feelings get hurt I end the interview.]