Torio van Grol wants you to think he's funny.
But he needs you to think he's physically attractive. So if you show up at either of his gigs at Comedy Corner Underground (8 p.m. both nights, tickets $10, click here for details) you should compliment him on how good he looks in that shirt -- even though he knows he barely fits into it.
A native of San Diego, van Grol's been fighting SoCal stereotypes his whole life. No, he doesn't surf. Look at him. You think he wants to go the beach and try and balance himself on a board? In front of people?
Nope. But he is willing to stand up on a stage and try making them laugh, and loves tiny, intimate basement venues like Comedy Corner Underground, which he's played before. He'll be joined this weekend by his cousin Cooper van Grol, a Twin Cities-based comic whom Torio oddly passed-up the chance to make fun of in this interview. (More on that later.)
City Pages: How's the weather in the Bay Area these days?
Torio van Grol: It's been a cold winter for us, but I feel like now being out here it would be almost rude to say that at this point. It's been a lot of rain for us, and in the 50s, but I would never say that to a Minnesotan.
CP: What are your opinions or experiences with snow?
van Grol: I grew up in San Diego and now I live in San Francisco, so... I mean, it looks pretty? I'm not gonna bring up the weather, but everyone's like, "Oh what do you think of this weather here?" I mean, it sucks. But people come to San Francisco and I'm not gonna say "Whhat do you think of the poop on the ground?" There's some things you don't bring up.
CP: Obviously we can't shut up about the weather here. What's your go-to small talk out there?
van Grol: Personally I try to immediately get as weird as possible. I try to get out of small talk. I don't want to talk about the weather or your job. I try to be like, "tell me your story, I wanna know what's weird about you." But if i'm at a bus stop and someone's talking to me, I just put headphones in. I either want to get deep or not at all.
CP: Isn't San Francisco eventually going to get earthquaked into the sea? Are you ready for that?
van Grol: Yeah, we're looking forward to it. Everything is really expensive and maybe that will clear some of these tech people out of town. There's no plan for it. You just have to hope you don't die when it happens. I can feel the earthquakes, and it's like, if this was the big one there's no chance. Living in San Francsco like swimming in the ocean: if a shark bites you, you're dead.
CP: Minneapolis is dealing with affordable housing now, and basically trying to avoid becoming a San Francisco-type city. What's the solution to how fucking expensive it is out there?
van Grol: I don't know if there is fixing it. San Francisco's only 7 by 7 miles, so we're packed in. And it seems like our government wants to work with the tech companies. It's disappointing, but understandable, because they generate so much money. Every town's hoping to get the new Google office or Amazon office.
CP: ...and you already have 'em.
van Grol: Exactly. Fixing it is just gonna be a waiting game. People are gonna have to get so tired, or the bubble is just gonna have to burst at some point. Hopefully the internet just finally runs out.
CP: We reach the end of it?
van Grol: Yeah, I don't know how that works. Maybe there's no more wires? [Laughs.] Maybe it is just a fad, a 30-year fad. We just need people to be like, "Oh yeah, being outside is better than this."
CP: Well, have you seen it outside?
van Grol: [Laughs.] OK, but I didn't mean today.
CP: What's the most you're willing to pay for a cocktail and why?
van Grol: I'm a go-to well guy, so... I mean in San Francisco if it's not just a shot, you're automatically paying at least $12. And I do pay that, because I have a problem. Iprefer just to have a shot of whiskey, and I don't care what it is, and then enjoy a nice diet cola or sparkling water. Beer I can enjoy, but when it comes to hard alcohol just wanna slam it and enjoy how it makes me feel.
CP: You're doing these shows with your cousin Cooper. Who's funnier? And who's more date-able?
van Grol: Well I'm definitely more date-able because he's married.
CP: That doesn't stop people from dating.
van Grol: Oh, I know. That's just my way of saying I'm the hot one. He's definitely the funnier one. He's weirder. My jokes are more relate-able, maybe, but his come out of left field. We're both funny, though, so if you come out to see us you will enjoy every minute.*
*[City Pages does not endorse this statement.]
CP: In these small venues like Comedy Corner people are basically right next to the stage. What's your approach to crowd work, or people deciding they're part of the act?
van Grol: I have fun with it. I do some crowd work, but you can definitely get tired of it. If some person just keeps going... that's when it's like, "Dude people didn't pay to see you." I keep it pretty light and fun, and playful, I've never had a meltdown where I yelled at someone.
CP: Well you're young.
van Grol: Yeah I know, exactly. I'm not incapable of it. If somebody wants to come test it, I'm sure I can sure get heated if I need to.