On this edition of INTERVUE, comedian Al Madrigal has the best job in the world. He is one of the correspondents on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He has also played Will’s best friend for two seasons in NBC’s About a Boy. Madrigal is the co-founder of All Things Comedy podcast and this Saturday, he will be doing some standup at Rams Head On Stage in Annapolis.
How did you get into comedy in the first place?
You know, I grew on the block with other comedians. When I was a little kid growing up, I would look out on the street and see people rehearsing a sketch show in front of the steps. There was another comic who lived up the block named Michael Pritchard, who Robin Williams looked up to. It was great to see those guys make a career of it. Also, everyone told me that I was funny and that I should do this. Once I started at the age of twenty-eight, things really took off from there.
I read that you worked for a Human Resources staffing agency for ten years and one of your jobs was to fire people, correct?
That’s correct, I worked for my family’s business, which was managing other people’s problems. So really, I was this corporate fixer when it came to a job. We had three thousand employees out of the San Francisco Bay area. My main responsibility was to be an aggressive discipliner to paying problem employees and handle those.
In a way, you were like Clooney’s character in Up in the Air?
Exactly, what George did but I dealt with a lot of individuals. If you remember in the movie, he was dealing with white-collar lay-offs and that’s pretty straightforward. If the company is not doing as well as it should be, then we no long have a position for you. I was dealing with a lot of people who really needed their jobs. Low-level employees who were making twelve to twenty dollars that don’t have a severance package and don’t have anything to fall back on. So, it was a lot more difficult. These were blue-collar folks that were angry.
Who were your comedy influences growing up?
At the San Francisco Punch Line and I saw Arj Barker. I’ve seen some San Francisco comic, then I seen some great ones. Actually, a lot of great comics have come from Baltimore. The ones that I looked up and really include include Patton Oswalt, Blaine Captach, and Dave Chapelle in particular come from the Virginia, Maryland, DC scene. I also like Dana Gould & Bob Rubin.
Is this the first time performing in the Baltimore area?
No, I was in the Best of Baltimore of 2009 with Janeane Garofalo. We co-headline some stuff. As regards to Annapolis at Rams Head, this is my first time there.
You currently serve as the “Senior Latino Correspondent” for The Daily Show since 2011. How did that came to be?
A bunch of people were doing stand-up comedy in New York and one of my friends who works on the show saw me as said “you really should try to be the Latino correspondent. We have a break coming up. So let’s try a put a tape together and have Jon take a look.” They brought me into audition from that tape. Luckily, at this point, I have been on network pick-ups and my stage fright is completely gone. You know you have to be calm in very difficult situations with that stuff combined and what I have to audition with. At this point in 2011, it went smoothly and he shook my hand and welcomed me aboard. I started out as part-time with five episodes. Then, an NBC show I was on with Hank Azaria & Kathryn Hahn got cancelled. The second that got cancelled, I got a call and The Daily Show had offered me a full-time position. So, I moved to New York and was there full-time. With my family in Los Angeles, I commuted back and forth to a little rented room in Brooklyn. I did that for two and a half years until I was asked to do About a Boy on NBC.
Now, here are with Jon leaving on August 6th and Trevor coming in, I will continue to be on the show in the same capacity except part-time or whatever they need.
What is one thing that you miss being on About a Boy?
It was one of the greatest jobs in Hollywood. To be a second banana on a sitcom was a sweet gig. The acting opportunity to work with a guy like Jason Katims. I got a chance to do some serious stuff here & there. They let us collaborate and I got a lot of jokes on the show for the other characters even. They weren’t so attached to the script. They would let us pitch jokes; whatever the best joke worked made it on the show. So, it was nice to be part of an environment like that. I also miss the checks, the checks were amazing. (laughs). The huge network checks.
As we mentioned before, it will be a few weeks until Jon Stewart leaves The Daily Show. What is the one thing you will about working with him?
Supposedly, I will still be going on the road and hanging out with him. Ideally, I will still have a relationship with him for many years to come. I will be able to work with him on upcoming TV projects, movies and stuff like that. I hope to work with him for a long, long time. He has an amazing way and I am sure that Trevor will develop this reason or maybe even has it to look at the show, look at the scripts and immediately break it down. He’ll use his sixth sense of being able to look at an act, look at The Daily Show and trim it down to its finest points. Joke, joke, joke, joke. Really presents its solutions. Stewart had this uncanny ability, through all these years, to look at some material and really dissect it and push it to the point where why the show’s been so good because of the perfect little acts and segments that come along with the show. Jon and mainly a field guy. He does that with us all the time. We are really in awe of his ability to take all the elements that we shot and piece them together, this puzzle. That’s why he has won an Emmy for ten years in a row.
I wholeheartedly agree. I am a fan of the show and can see the proof in the pudding. There has been no show like this and most likely, no show that could top it.
I will miss Jon being part of that and his ability to break any topic down. He will continue to produce and make content. Whatever it is that all of us will enjoy for sometime. He’s not going to go away altogether.
I hope not. (Laughs) Now for those who have not heard about the All Comedy Podcast you co-founded. Tell us what’s it all about
Well, myself and Bill Burr came up with this idea to have all of us and a lot of potential comedians that have a variety of podcasts out there but own our own distribution network for audio so that is also lends itself to video, albums whatever the comedian produces by our own company. So, we can own our own distribution network. Therefore, directly go to the advertisers and our audience at the same time plus to have all those numbers. When you’re dealing with any company that exists solely distribute, you have a lot of hands that are out. What we are hoping to do and we are doing successfully is we have a house distribution network. Our numbers are visible and it’s a great deal for comics and they own all their own content. So, it’s a deal that me and Bill would want to sign us. We banded together to form this network, All Things Comedy.
What you and Bill have done with this podcast is nothing short of outstanding. I tip my head to you both for being such content to listeners.
So, there’s about sixty podcasts. Bill being the biggest one. He does his thing Monday morning. Now he does a Thursday podcast as well. Ari Shaffir, Tom Papa, Harland Williams, Eddie Pepitone, I could go on and on. We have such great comics that are all on our network. We are lucky to be trusted by all these people to make this actually work because it’s working.
For Saturday’s show at Rams Head on Stage, what can fans expect of you?
I find myself being a storyteller. A lot of very personal material and knowing that I love doing stand-up comedy. So, its not that you’re seeing some actor whose expecting some ass grab and cackling on their fame, throwing together some Q&A on their act. This is a stand-up act that I have honed and worked on for many years. All and all, they are going to see a stand-up comic.
Thank you Al for that great interview. Be sure to catch Al on The Daily Show on Comedy Central and catch him doing stand-up when he comes to your town.