Ari Shaffir is an American stand up comedian whose face you may recognise from recent appearances on Comedy Central as well as being the host of one of the top-rated podcasts on iTunes, the interview-style show The Skeptic Tank. This year’s Edinburgh Festival sees Shaffir bring his storytelling TV series This Is Not Happening to the stage, accompanied by various other comics as they share anecdotes from their personal lives with a live audience.
To learn more about the man behind the comedy, I asked Ari these seven questions…
1) Do you enjoy the great outdoors?
Dude! I love it. All I look forward to in the summer is getting mushrooms and going to Joshua Tree. Or getting mushrooms and going to Sequoia National Park. Or getting mushrooms and walking around the city, but I guess that’s not really the great outdoors. The point is, yes, I love being in nature. People and their creations are overwhelming. I like being away from as many of them as possible. When I leave comedy, it’ll either be to commit suicide or to get on a boat and just sail out until I never see anyone again.
2) Which comedians are you influenced by?
Burr, Bobby Lee, Kinison, Brody Stevens, some dead guys, the Simpsons, Joey Diaz. I guess I’m influenced by almost every comedian I’ve seen. I like seeing different techniques, different paths to get at a problem, different styles. I can take from anything. I like arm movements and pauses. If I see somebody nailing it with a technique I’ve never used, of course that’s gonna influence the way I go at ideas.
3) Books or e-books?
Books. But probably neither. I’ve read like, 3 books in the last 15 years. I read a shitload all through university, but then I stopped cold as soon as I got out. E-books seem like a great way to have your book with you, but it seems lame for some reason. It’s probably not justified. I have the same problem with dating websites. I remember the time when online dating was for losers and mutants. But that time is done. And yet, I’m still stuck thinking it’s a problem. I gotta get over my younger self.
4) How would your friends describe you?
They’d describe me as a fun dick maybe. I don’t know. I don’t even want to think about this. I don’t know how they’d describe me. They’re my friends. They’re idiots. They’d probably describe me as tall and bearded.
5) Is your stage persona the same as your own personality?
My stage persona is almost identical to my personality. The only difference might be that I feel freer sharing embarrassing details in front of a crowd than I do in front of a couple people. But I’m coming to things from the same place on stage or off.
6) Do you ever feel like you’re too honest?
I feel like I’m very honest compared to most people. For sure. But, no. I don’t feel too honest. It’s gotten me in trouble before. Plenty of times. But I still don’t think I’m too honest. I rather think most other people are not honest enough. If everyone was open about who they are, we wouldn’t really be judging each other so harshly. Just be who you are and don’t worry about what people are going to say. They don’t matter. So that’s what I do usually.
7) What are you waiting for?
I’m waiting for this new special to be done so I can stop touring for a while. I’m waiting for the US revolution to start moving a little faster, I’m waiting for South Park to come back on. I’m waiting for a hot girl who’s also genuinely interesting and not self-absorbed. The revolution should be here first.