Todd Glass Talks Camping with Zach Galifianakis, 'Saturday Night Live' and Canada's Comedy Rep
Published Feb 13, 2017Esteemed comic Todd Glass is returning to Vancouver in February for a three-night stand at Yuk Yuk's, February 23 to 25, as part of the JFL NorthWest Festival and the man cannot wait to be back.
"Overwhelmingly, certain clubs are better because they've trained their audiences," Glass tells Exclaim! during an extensive FaceTime chat. "I believe there are people familiar with comedy everywhere you go — people who know you don't yell out or heckle, and that it's like a play or a movie. So when they cultivate those audiences, it's usually because they've trained them. If you put up with people yelling out, they'll yell out. I like to work at a club that has zero tolerance for yelling out. I want people to come and have a great time, but I don't want them yelling out; it's not part of my show."
Glass is a gifted comedian who originally hails from Philadelphia, but lives in Los Angeles. He's the host of the award-winning podcast, The Todd Glass Show, the author of the best-selling memoir, The Todd Glass Situation, and one of the most acclaimed standups working today, who is in the midst of post-production on his latest special.
All this to say, Glass knows the road is hard and long, but some places make it really worth all the travel involved in making a living telling jokes.
"I don't think anyone would deny that in certain cities, their crowds are just great," he explains. "And Canada, overwhelmingly, has really great audiences. I don't know what it is but it's something. I genuinely love going there to perform because it's fun and a lot of comedians say that.
"When you respect other people, your audience show up accordingly. If you see a comedian and they're intolerant, those are the kinds of people who show up for them. So yeah, [Canadians] are socially evolved and, even when it comes to standup comedy, you reap the benefits of that. You have a good rep in comedy."
Glass adds that Canadian enterprises like SCTV and The Kids in the Hall were deeply meaningful to him as a young comedy fan, mostly because their sensibilities were so odd and naturally different than most sketch- and ensemble-based comedy that he's encountered. But even though hosers like Lorne Michaels and Dan Aykroyd helped create it and get it on TV, Saturday Night Live doesn't have the same place in his heart.
"I'm always careful when I talk about that show, because I think great things come out of SNL," Glass says. "More the performers; I see a lot of funny people on that show and I can tell they're talented. Talent and comedy and sketch are all getting better — that's not up for debate. But that doesn't mean every vehicle gets better.
"I think there are a lot of talented people who end up on SNL and it's a tired format. I bet they'd be the first ones to go, 'Yeah, hello, thank you.' Some cast members come along and take that tired formula and freshen it up in way that I can't believe! But they're still stuck in the confines of 'sketch-then-go-to-commercial-then-do-another-sketch.' So, if you ask me if I'm a fan of SNL, I think we tend to get better sketch from Key & Peele and things like that, where it's different."
Speaking of different, Glass is very excited about another project he's currently fine-tuning — a pilot for a show tentatively called Camping with Todd.
"It's pretty much what it sounds like," he explains. "We really went out into the woods with some cameras and did a good job of hiding them. We still have a blazing fire and no cellphones or TV. The only lights were the ones you'd have while camping — lanterns and the fire. It really brings different things out of people.
"It was me, Eddie Pepitone, Canada's own Jon Dore and Zach Galifianakis."
Glass says he was wary of the show being some gimmicky takedown of reality TV man-vs-the-elements crap. He was after totally authentic moments when friends find themselves in remote, solitary locales.
"Let me tell you something: it was everything I wanted it to be," he says gleefully. "It was silly, it was deep, y'know? When you're in the dark with people, you don't have to say 'Talk about things you wouldn't normally talk about.' It just happens. Stars are above you, there's a crackling fire.
"There's one shot that my friend said, 'That says it all.' You know the junk food Goldfish? There's a big, oversized bag of those and Zach is just sitting there — the fire's crackling, his hand's in there and he's just eating out of this big thing of Goldfish. He's not doing it to be funny; they were there and he's just eating them. And when I saw that shot, I thought, 'That's what I wanted.' We're so comfortable, sitting around a fire, and making s'mores."
In a mediated world, it's interesting that Camping with Todd strove for real moments between comedians, particularly something as hard to shoot as camping at night without giant spotlights and TV amenities.
"Pilots are the hardest things to shoot because they're the first one; as you shoot a show, you get better and better," Glass says. "But those guys did a great job at it and it's pretty much real life. It didn't seem like a set. We just walked into the woods and we just sat around for three hours."
Listen to this interview via the Kreative Kontrol podcast: