Tom Segura’s Steady Rise
Since he started doing comedy, Tom Segura has been on the slow climb to success through silliness. With Your Mom’s House, the podcast he co-hosts with his wife/fellow comedian Christina P, Segura says the couple is simply “embracing silliness” and “just trying to have fun.” And despite some recent complaints from angry Cajuns and concerned mothers, his recent special Disgraceful shows the comic in his element, weaving tales that straddle the line between “curmudgeonly old man” and thoughtful nice guy. I talked to Segura about the gradual build of his comedy career, maintaining a happy home life, and how he’s pissing all the right people off.
I’m sitting here in New Orleans and the Cajun people of Louisiana want some answers.
It’s so silly. They’re so upset. It’s like that with everything though, man. I get it. It’s not like I don’t understand their reaction, but I’ve been getting a lot of messages from people that say, “Hey I live in Louisiana and I love the bit,” or, “I’m Cajun and I thought it was hilarious.” They get that it’s performance. It’s not real. I don’t really hate you. It’s just a form of exaggeration. When that doesn’t register you’re like, “How does that not register?”
I was surprised because Cajuns pride themselves in being thick-skinned. If anything they should still be mad about The Waterboy.
Yeah, I find the backlash hilarious. I really enjoyed getting the messages. Most of them are misspelled and are like, “Fuck you. I hate you.” It’s pretty funny.
They’re not helping their side of the argument by not running a spellcheck on that email before they send it.
No, not at all. I’m pissing off all the right people. They probably weren’t going to like me that much anyway. I’m going to try to book some Louisiana dates as a surprise announcement to try to capitalize on the whole thing.
Why did you choose Denver for the location of this last special?
I’ve had great experiences before. When you pick your cities I feel like you go, “What’s a consistently good place from my travels?” Most people have a Top 10 list and for me Denver was at the top. I love that city. I would move there.
When people describe your comedy they often use the term “storyteller.” Some comics kind of resist being labeled a storytelling comic. Is it a label that you appreciate?
I’m totally cool with it. I didn’t intend to be that, but there are a lot of stories in my shows, so when somebody says it I’m like, “You’re definitely right.” It’s always what I’ve been drawn to as a fan, so I think it makes sense that I would incorporate that into what I do. I have no issue with the label.
Was this your style when you first started out or did you go through a shorter form phase, like one-liners?
I used to do much shorter jokes a lot more. I wanted to tell stories and I would start to sometimes, but you need a skill set and you need to be comfortable and confident enough to do it. That just takes time. I was drawn to it early on, but I was definitely doing more methodical, short setups and jokes. It just kind of evolved into who I really am.
You’ve been on a steady track of releasing an album or special every two years. Is that part of a regimen you put together for yourself or did it just kind of happen that way?
It’s just the way things have gone based on the fact that it’s pretty much all I do. Like if I were working on television, a film, or just had a major project going on, I think it would derail that pace. But if you’re able to do standup all the time, that’s kind of how long it takes to develop an hour. Then you kind of get sick of it and you’re like, “I’ve got to shoot this so I can move on.”
When did you record Disgraceful?
So now you’re on your way to building your next hour.
Yeah. I’m definitely not there. I have some new stuff, but it’s not in good shape. I need to dig in, tighten it, and build. It takes time.
Completely Normal was your first special that landed on Netflix. That was 2014. What changes have you noticed in your career since you started getting Netflix specials?
It was great, but it was gradual. It wasn’t overnight. I remember doing a weekend somewhere that summer and the guy was like, “I don’t know how you did it, but you get a bonus.” I didn’t know how I did it either. I didn’t even think about the special. By later that year I was selling out shows in clubs. By 2015 we were adding shows and selling bigger venues. It’s been a gradual increase over time. I think it’s great that it happened at a consistent progressive pace.
It seems like it would be much more manageable and keep you more closely grounded to reality. Sometimes when things happen, something goes viral, or somebody gets a big pop for whatever reason, it’s hard to shift gears that quickly. I think it can also give a comic a skewed view of how things are really going to be for them.
When you go my route you really appreciate that aspect. Actually, I feel bad for some of those really young people that have that. In my mind I go, “Oh man, I would not have been prepared for that.”
I got the chance to talk to Christina in October when her special came out. We were talking about your podcast. I asked her if the podcast has been good for your relationship and she said it was like “a magic circle that we step into and transport back to a simpler time in our relationship.” She was speaking to the fact that now that you’re adults with careers, a house, and a kid, the podcast forces you to sit down one-on-one and have quality time together.
That’s beautiful. I think that’s a great way to describe it. It’s just us getting to connect with each other and have fun. Embracing silliness is really what the podcast is. We’re not trying to be something that we’re not. We’re not trying to say something profound. We’re just trying to have fun.
You’re both headlining comics with independent schedules. How do you work that out logistically with having a family and everything?
Every person learns with time and experience. Our system is basically that we never leave town at the same time because we don’t want to leave our son. One of us will always be there on a weekend. I tend to tour more, but I will never be gone more than two weekends in a month. For instance, this month I didn’t leave at all. I thought, “It’s January, the special just came out, so I’ll just let it come out and stay home.” It’s been great to be home. February I’m leaving one weekend only. She’s leaving one weekend in February too. We have the same agent, so that makes life easier too because you go, “Hey, you know how we want to work.”
In the new special you say that the meaning of life is “Fuck this place. Let’s go home.” You get into it as a philosophical concept. Is that coming from a place in your life where you now have a stable home life that you can count on as a foundation?
That’s definitely a part of it. I think a part of it for me is just looking to get home. I’ve never been a big party guy or super social. I don’t like big events and crowded areas. I’m almost a curmudgeonly old man in that aspect. I’ve been like that forever. I feel like the more people I meet the more we talk about, “Hey, I’d rather be on my couch right now.” It’s a philosophy, but it’s also staying true to knowing that my happiest place is just being at home. Having a happy home life is definitely a big part of that.
Photo by Troy Conrad/Netflix.