Comedian Gary Gulman: "It's So Difficult to Pull Off Political Humor Without Being Preachy"


The last time we spoke to comedian Gary Gulman, he told us he was trying to get more famous in order to secure more show dates outside of the East Coast. "There's just not that much demand for me. But I'm trying to get more famous, so hopefully that will change," he said.

The strange thing is that plenty of people know who Gary Gulman is. From Last Comic Standing to his latest special, In This Economy, Gulman has built a solid fanbase. "Based on the fact that I always have people yelling requests at the end of the show, I guess that people are familiar with my work," he says.

[jump] Indeed, fellow comedian JL Cauvin thought enough of Gulman's status to include an impression of him in Louis CK's Comedy Academy. "He's actually a friend of mine," says Gulman of Cauvin.

Gulman was flattered by Cauvin's impression of him. "Just the fact that there is somebody who thinks I have certain mannerisms and cadences, I took it as a compliment, and it's really funny to me."

Gulman's act, though, has changed some from what Caulvin was poking fun at. While he maintains his trademark brand of subtle sarcasm, he's finding his set is becoming more cohesive.

"It's all in the same tone that I usually do, but it's getting longer," he explains. "I'm doing a lot more of what I recently found out are long-form jokes. They're stories or collections of similar ideas or observations." For example, he has a big chunk about how whining and complaining have helped advance our technology.

Another involves an incident at Trader Joe's with another customer. "So, with all the tangents and parentheticals, that sometimes takes up to 35 minutes to get through. In some cases, I'm only doing four or five different topics, but there are a lot of ins and outs within them."

One topic Gulman is weary of covering is politics. "I follow politics, and the shows I watch most regularly are The Daily Show and The Colbert Report," he says. "I'm definitely interested in politics, but it's so difficult to pull off political humor without being preachy."

He also notes that politically minded comics have to rely on people being informed about certain issues. "Otherwise, it has to be general or broad. I just don't have the courage to address some of the issues, and everybody is committed to their side. Also, when you're preaching to the converted, you infuriate the other half of the audience. But I really admire the guys that are doing it."

Gulman considers himself to be more of a progressive. The furthest he'll go is the occasional mention of religion. "But even that's fraught with danger, so it's tricky."


Gary Gulman

Turf Club

1601 University Ave., St. Paul

7 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Thursday


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