“Most comedians find humor in what’s wrong with the world,” says comic Steve Simeone. “I’m pointing out what’s right with the world, and that’s through childhood memories.”
Simeone tried being serious, working in corporate America, as he puts it. “It wasn’t for me,” he says. “I scrapped that, told my parents I was going to law school, and moved back in with them.” He wound up with an internship in the ticket office of his hometown Philadelphia Eagles. “That was awesome because I’m a big sports fan, but I was like, ‘This still feels like a job. I have to go on and pursue my dream.”
That was 15 years ago, and today, after some lean years, Simeone has been on Comedy Central, is headlining clubs, and doing feature work in theaters for Gabriel Iglesias. “We recently performed at the Beacon Theater in New York and it was incredible. I thought, ‘How did I get here?’”
It’s that sense of wonderment that is the undertow to his nostalgia-based comedy. “I would sit and watch Saturday-morning cartoons, stay up late and watch Hulk Hogan wrestle, and that was great. Now I’m saying, let’s look at all that stuff again. Those memories are fun, and being an adult is even better.”
It’s all about finding something in particular from those youthful days that can help give you a better outlook on life today. “If you’re really satisfied with the little things in life, you’ll be happy,” he explains. “The more you live that’s all there really is: positive and negative. The little things aren’t going to make or break you. Once you realize that, being an adult is awesome. I can have ice cream for breakfast. When I was six years old I couldn’t do that.”
Talking about his generation might seem limiting, but Simeone says younger audience enjoy his set too, maybe even more than his contemporaries. “It’s amazing. It’s been a year since I released my first CD, Remember This, and I still get fan mail from younger people, which is the greatest thing ever.” He does find it odd though when they explain why they like his comedy. “These college students will say, ‘I miss being a kid,’ and I’m like, ‘You still are a kid!’ When you’re 20 being 10 seems like such a long time ago.”
Indeed, it seems that often another generation’s nostalgia is actually more appealing than one’s own. Television shows like Mad Men, Aquarius, and Masters of Sex all have sizable audiences that didn’t live through those times (although the appeal of that last show in the list might have less to do with the time period and more to do with the subject matter). There’s a comfort in nostalgia, as it often filters out the negative. And a previous generation’s nostalgia can seem even more comforting. “People like to go back to a time before theirs,” Simeone says, “because they think it was simpler and easier."
The nostalgia thing has kind of become a cottage industry, as Simeone even has a podcast, called Goodtimes with Steve Simeone, in which he discusses things from the past. Often a conversation with one of his guests will open a whole new avenue of memories, and lead to new material.
“The other day me and my guest were able to do that,” he says. “It’s really cool when you get people talking about their childhood and the walls come down. They get vulnerable and we talk about what happened in those years. That’s what it’s all about.”
Simeone is thinking of expanding his nostalgia-based offerings. “I want to launch a new podcast with retired folks called I Didn’t Always Used to Be, where I would go to retirement homes and just listen to peoples stories.”
“It all has to do with perspective,” he muses. “I think sometimes you’re not able to pick up on the good times. Today we’re bombarded with phone calls, emails, and tweets. We can’t pick out the good stuff and remember the good stuff.”
IF YOU GO:
Rick Bronson's House of Comedy
408 E. Broadway, Mall of America, Bloomington
7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday; 9:45 p.m. Friday; 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; 9:30 p.m. Saturday
For more info call 952-858-8558 or visit houseofcomedy.net.