Comedian Eddie Pepitone doesn't consider himself to be a joke writer like his old friend and Minneapolis favorite David Feldman. "What I talk about onstage is all in the moment for me," he says. "It's what I've been thinking about and how events affect me." One thing that inspires his material is reading. "I get super-charged by reading different authors. My favorite political guy is Chris Hedges. If I read an article by him that day, it just might inspire me to talk about certain things or a news item that really angers me."
[jump] You've likely seen Pepitone on various TV programs, such as Conan, where he has a recurring role as the New York heckler, and sitcoms like 2 Broke Girls, Bob's Burgers, and The King of Queens. As a comedian's comedian, he is a frequent guest on many podcasts produced by fellow L.A.-based standups. It's onstage where he feels most creative though, often finding new angles and ideas while up there.
"That's why I do it," he says. "And that's why I love doing it in front of a live audience. There's something about ranting in front of people. If it's a dialogue, if they're laughing at what I'm saying, then I know I'm on to something. I definitely explore more in front of a live audience."
It's not all just ranting about current events, though. "I don't think people like to be preached to that much. I'm very upset about all the corporate bullshit, but I also try to talk about how flawed I am and then how flawed the system is."
Pepitone's father, an educator, was a bit dismayed when his son drifted toward comedy and show business. "He wanted me to go into a real job, so he steered me toward the sciences. My mind just couldn't deal with the abstractness of it. I was too much of an emotional basket case, like most comedians," he laughs.
It took a while for him to make living at comedy. "It's been a grinding journey," he says. "I had to support myself before making money in comedy." Previous careers included construction and office work. The latter was the only one he couldn't handle. "I was absolutely horrified by going into the same cubicle every day. That was very threatening to my sanity." He also sanded and installed hardwood floors. "That was the craziest job I ever had." He waited tables, but was terrible at it. "I tell people I've been fired from more restaurants than I've eaten in."
Meanwhile he continued to do standup. "It took me a few years to connect with my whole comedic timing. It takes a long time to be comfortable in your own skin," he says. "To be able to stand up in front of people and be yourself -- because that's when you're funny -- is hard. My set is just about me being in the moment and revealing what's going on with me. What I'm angry about in the world and putting that onstage."
The process was so intimidating that Peptione took two years off and just did sketch comedy. "I needed to be with other performers, but then I went back to standup"
It's all paid off, and Pepitone's popularity continues to grow. His latest special, In Ruins, is currently running on Netflix.
IF YOU GO:
Acme Comedy Co.
708 N. First St., Minneapolis; 612-338-6393
8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday www.acmecomedycompany.com