Comedian Andrew Ginsburg Talks Comedy, Being Used For A Green Card and ‘Pumping Irony’
It isn’t often we hear that a comedian’s been to the gym. Well, perhaps that’s a stretch. However, still, it came as quite a shocker when comedian Andrew Ginsburg started showing up in the comedy scene, not only because his material was so straightforward and borderline offensive (which we love), but also because of the way he looked—which is in no way a stab at him.
When taking the stage Andrew is a confident young comic whose material is similar to that of legends such as George Carlin or Bobby Slayton. He isn’t the type to hold back easily, and he knows that. Actually, he takes a certain pride in that. And when isn’t onstage—either working out new material or fine tuning old material—he’s usually training himself or someone else. Nope, not in comedy… we mean fitness.
Aside from a career as a stand up comedian, one that has brought him places such as ‘The View,’ ‘The Sopranos,’ and ‘Saturday Night Live’, Andrew is also a professional bodybuilder. Like, an actual bodybuilder, the type who has been in competitions and all. Crazy, right? But true!
He recently spoke to us about comedy, being used by a woman for a green card and his newest album ‘Pumping Irony.'
Your latest CD came out a couple of weeks ago. First of all, we love the title. ‘Pumping Irony.'
Oh thank you! I didn’t come up with it. I think the label did. I’m nowhere need creative enough to come up with that. [laughs]
How do you feel this one differs from your other albums, if at all?
I just think this one’s better. The first one ‘Dragon Slayer’ I had just gotten out of a divorce. I was used by a Chinese woman for a green card.
We read about that.
Oh yeah! [laughs] But the whole act was about my horrible marriage and my skepticism towards new marriages and my advocacy of divorce.
Were there subjects on the other albums that you didn’t touch because you felt you weren’t ready?
Yeah, I think so. You kind of change. Back then I was forward on marriage and divorce, and then I started dating and getting a little… happier, I guess. I think that whatever your experiencing at the time is what comes out. I have a personal training business and train gay men all day long so now I’m thinking about the difference between gays and straights because I see it all of the time in my clients. They’ll smack a girls end because they can get away with it since they’re gay. That stuff. Whatever’s on my mind at the time.
Do you really just train gay men?
Yeah, 60% gay men and 40% straight women.
Given the fact that you are a bodybuilder that makes perfect sense that’s your clientele.
Yeah really. Plus that’s my comedy audience too. Straight guys aren’t going to go out of their way to laugh at me.
Speaking of your comedy, you really seem to like to push that envelope. What is it about that type of comedy that you like?
It just has thought behind it. It’s riskier and is more close to the truth than anything else. I grew up loving Sam Kinison, Bill Hicks and Lenny Bruce. All of those guys, Bobby Slaton too, they all were like that. I always liked the offensive person, whether it was a friend or comedian. I love to offend people.
When you start writing new material do you look at your own life or other peoples?
Mostly my life. It comes out more personal. I can get more emotion behind it because it’s so close to me. I also write about my sister a little because her dating life is such a travesty. But mostly my own experience. I like a little bit of observational stuff but I’ve always been told they like more of ‘you’ in it rather than observations. But then again, Seinfeld got away with talking about observations.
Is it easier going onstage and talking about yourself as opposed to other people?
No, it’s not. I write for some friends of mine and it just comes out. You’re not that worried if you’re writing about other people. You’re much more critical about yourself where as with others you can speak without pretense about your friends. Or if I see some schmuck crossing the street and get hit by a car, it’s easy to make fun of that.
Aside from comedy you’re also an actual bodybuilder. Which came first?
They actually came about around the same time. I did my first bodybuilding competition my junior year in college and I did my first comedy show my senior year in college. I played tennis in college and got kicked off the team so I need a competitive environment. Of course, bodybuilding was great.
And comedy was also something you had a strong proclivity towards?
Yeah, I grew up watching George Carlin and I would always cry laughing at him. He was offensive, hilarious, made you think. He got me hooked. And I always wanted to try it, so I did an open mic in Boston. I completely bombed. I was shaking. It was awful, but I got back up there.
Many comedians describe that first experience as being horrible. What made you get back up on the stage?
Well, what’s amazing is when I see people get up there and kill their first time. I don’t get it. But for me, I met this guy, Teddy Bergeron; he was the first comedian to get the couch on Carson. He saw me and said I really had something and he could work with me. He became a mentor to me. It was funny; my best friend became this 52-year-old comedian.
Do you find any sort of stigmas being the good-looking bodybuilder comedian?
Oh my god! It’s so bad for a comedian to be in shape and especially if you’re not ugly. It hurts so much because you’re a threat. I always think nobody has is better than a fat black lesbian comedian. I did this spot on ‘The View’ a few weeks ago and the guy that won was this big fat black guy with a giant head who did all fat jokes. It’s interesting; comedy is the only place where that is rewarded. That and sumo wrestling.
Was it difficult reworking your act towards a daytime talk show?
I wrote down a list of all my jokes, a couple hundred. I was like ‘can’t do this, can’t do this.’ Even the clean ones are just offensive. I had it down but I couldn’t do my thing. I don’t think anyone got a sense of what my act was like because I couldn’t do my act. You have to submit every word to the legal department and it has to be squeaky clean.
Being a comic, there are a lot of late nights and perhaps unhealthy habits. We’re curious, is it difficult staying fit with that sort of late night lifestyle.
You know I read that Seinfeld was the guy that wouldn’t party. He’d go home; he’d edit his material; and at 10/10:30 he’d be in bed. He’s a real straightedge I heard. I get up at 5:20 every morning and train about eight clients a day. My first one is at six AM, so I have to go to bed. If I did a spot at a club I always ask to go on early. Most places are usually pretty nice about it. I’m also not a big drinker or drug addict. I’m not doing blow till 3AM.
You’ve also acted in a number of TV shows. How do you like the acting compared to the stand up?
I don’t. [laughs] I’ve taken acting classes and it’s just the worse. It’s an awful, awful, awful waste of time. You’re sitting for three hours in acting class watching people do the Meisner technique. ‘You look tired. I look tired. You look tired. I look tired.’ You just want to shoot yourself. I really don’t like that acting thing. I played a cop on ‘All My Children’ for five years, which was actually cool because it’s base-level acting. It’s like soft-core porn for middle aged housewives.
Andrew Ginsburg's new album, 'Pumping Irony,' is available now from Pink Room Records.