Talking ‘Mostly Stories’ with Tom Segura
Tom Segura’s hour-long special Mostly Stories drops today on Netflix, but it’s far from the only thing he has to celebrate. The Ohio-born comic just had his first baby, sold a pilot, and set out on a new tour. Known for his keen storytelling and relaxed demeanor, Segura co-hosts the podcast Your Mom’s House with his wife, comic Christina Pazsitzky; the two are also cast members on TruTV’s How To Be A Grown Up. He’s scarcely a year out from his last Netflix special, Completely Normal, and won’t discount the possibility that this might become a regular thing. I spoke to Segura about Mostly Stories, juggling comedy with fatherhood, and the funniest thing he heard in 2015.
So I haven’t seen the screener yet and I’m coming into this pretty blind. What can you tell me about Mostly Stories that I might not glean from, you know, the title?
It’s basically a snapshot of the last year. I like telling stories, and the special’s not exclusively stories — hence the title — but it’s got some pretty substantial things that happened. I like that thing in standup when you see a comic tell you something that happened that day, and the hour has a lot of things like that — they happened on a particular day and I kept them in the act.
Do you, uh, move around at all? [Segura was notoriously motionless during most of Completely Normal’s hour runtime.]
Hah. People keep asking me that — I’m only aware of when someone points it out. Yeah, I move a little more than in Completely Normal.
How’d recording in Seattle compare to Minneapolis, where you did Completely Normal? Do you have any connection to the city?
When you tour as much as I do, you’re always on the road and you tend to gravitate toward cities where you’re like, “Every time I’m in that city the shows are fun.” It doesn’t matter whether you’re unknown or you’re selling tickets. So I’ve just had a really positive past with Seattle. It was actually my number one choice for the special.
Word. You had a pretty big 2015, didn’t you? What are you looking forward to next year?
It was great, man! We have a new baby and that’s pretty much my life now. I don’t know how exciting I am. This year’ll be a year of being a dad, touring, doing this new pilot. I hope we can buy a house — I’m at that age where that’s almost a sexually arousing thing. I think it’s the official Grown-Up Stage: you’re really an adult now that you have a mortgage. It was a great year, though. A lot of career things happened: I shot a pilot, I shot a special, I just got a deal for a new pilot, I had a baby. In that order — baby last.
That new pilot’s for TruTV, right?
I read that it’s “medical-themed.” Can you tell me anything else about it?
I can’t, actually. I asked about that and they asked me not to.
Dang. How do you like working with TruTv? They’re really going all-out with comedy.
They’re great. They passed on the pilot we shot earlier in the year and just came back with another offer. They’re hands-on, but not up in your business or telling you how to do it. I’ve had experiences writing on other pilots in the past weren’t so fun. Experiences where I left town and then I got back and the network gave me a script with my name on it that had nothing I wrote inside.
I learned a lesson, which is that if that ever happens again I better be prepared to voice my thoughts. I think I was scared to say how badly I thought what was done was done. I was thinking about relationships and feelings when I should have been like, “Hey, I just want to be clear…”
Now that you’re a dad — and I know you’ve spoken before to the exhausting nature of touring — do you see yourself settling into TV writing? Or do you think you’ll always be touring?
Oh, I’ll never be a TV writer. I could see myself being on a TV show, but I think touring is something I’ll always do.
You must be sad to go away for this one.
Yeah, this is one of those once-in-a-lifetime things. I’m minimizing the amount of times I have to go far away, or away for a while. Tonight I have my first show since we’ve had the baby, but luckily I get to drive home afterward. Basically I’m trying not to abandon my child.
That seems reasonable. Moving to somewhat broader things — you’ve said in the past that Joe Rogan is a great podcast host because he’s a great conversationalist. You’re a very conversational comic; what do you think it takes to be a good conversationalist? Do you think you are one?
I think to be a great conversationalist you need to be interested in being in said conversation. Oddly enough, I think you need to be a great listener, and I do think I’m a good listener. I think that’s my asset — I always listen to people when I talk to them, and that’s a big thing you have to have in life and in podcasts. I think a lot of comics struggle with that because they’re always thinking of what to say next. Especially if they’re a very “joke joke joke” comic, and their mind’s going into what they’re going to say next, joke-wise. We’ve had guests where you start talking to them and you can tell right away that they’re not going to be a good podcast guest.
Do you and Christina tend to have the same taste? Does she like anything you just can’t stand, or vice versa ?
I mean, I think we have similar taste in a lot of things but there’s still an individuality to each of us. Music-wise, she grew up as a punk rock head and I grew up as a hip-hop head. I’m always watching thrillers, she’s always watching love stories and Oprah Network stuff. You appreciate what the other person likes. I think aesthetic-wise, we like the same things.
What is that aesthetic?
I think we like things that are clean and simple. Something that isn’t too cluttered, not too modern, sort of classic.
How does touring as a couple, for the podcast, compare to touring alone? Do you prefer solitude or company before a show?
It’s weird. I’ve done it so much that being alone feels normal, to a degree, but you recognize that it’s only normal for a while. I like being alone touring but not year-round. I think there’s a balance where it’s good to go for a week, but even then I prefer to have a friend come with me. But touring with the podcast is really fun because the audience that comes to it is so into the show that it’s a different kind of feel than when you do standup. When you do standup, there’s a different type of pressure to give in to the audience. When you do the podcast, you can just wave and people will be happy.
Do you get to see much comedy, outside your various comedy-adjacent responsibilities?
I see a decent amount, but it’s usually whoever’s in front of me in a show. The times when I’m in LA and I’m doing shows is when I get to see my peers doing their thing, when I really get exposed to stuff. I have that anxiety, too, where you’re watching standup, whether it’s in the room or on television, and if I’m not into it after a couple minutes I get — anxiety. It’s probably more about me, not about them, but I don’t give stuff a lot of chances. Does that make be a bad person?
I think that’s probably a pretty common reaction. I mean, it’s sort of the job of any work of art to hook you.
I do the same stuff with TV shows. Like, I could be a few minutes into a show and I’ll just never watch it again.
What was the funniest thing you heard in 2015? Or that you read, saw, what have you.
I’m trying to think of a time I laughed really hard. You know what was funny to me — I like to make physical gestures when I fart, and I was pretending to fire a gun and fart and then when I couldn’t fart anymore I said, “gun jam” to my wife. I repeated it a few times and the way she said “No, I got the joke,” made me laugh.
It was so belittling the way she said it — “No, I got the joke” — I think I laughed for twenty minutes. It was a classic dad joke.