353 West 14th Street
Not many comedians start out as military men, but that’s the path Rob Riggle took on his way to becoming a comic performer and actor.
Probably best-known as a correspondent on The Daily Show for more than two years (he left late last year), Riggle served in the Marines, including stints in Kosovo and Afghanistan. He’s currently a Lieutenant Colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve.
In addition to The Daily Show, Riggle was in the cast of Saturday Night Live during the 2004-5 season, and has appeared in such movies as The Hangover and Step Brothers.
Riggle spoke recently about his careers in the military and as a comedian.
Kevin Filipski: How did being in the Marines prepare you for life as a comedian?
Rob Riggle: It probably gave me a thick skin because you need that if you’re in show business in any way, shape or form. You get told “no” a lot in show business. So the Marines taught me how to keep going, no matter what.
KF: Did the military brass have any problems with you becoming a comic while still in the Marines?
RR: No, there was nothing like that. When I was started my comedy career, I was still on active duty and I was here in New York. I had a seven in the morning until a five in the evening job, so I had evenings and weekends to myself. So, every night and on the weekend, I was taking classes, rehearsing, writing, being a tech for other people’s shows, anything to do with the comedy scene in the city.
KF: What was the response from your bosses and the other Marines you worked with to your career in comedy?
RR: For a very long time, nobody knew about it and, quite frankly, the Marines didn’t care. They’ve got a full plate of their own, with more important things to worry about, so they really don’t get involved with what I do with my free time. Recently, however, a lot of Marines have been reaching out to me, which I find gratifying.
KF: As a correspondent on The Daily Show, were you involved in the creation of segments and discussions with Jon Stewart, or was that strictly done by the writers?
RR: Absolutely—as a correspondent, I was definitely in on the writing process. When I was out in the field doing a report, a lot of that falls on me, since it was just me, the field producer and a cameraman. It’s whatever we could come up with. In the studio, that’s all the writers’ doing, but I got to stay and help and work out the verbiage between us so it sounds more natural.
KF: Aside from these upcoming shows at Comix, what else are you working on now?
RR: I’m developing a show with CBS, and I just shot a Comedy Central standup special a couple of weeks ago, which was a real blast to do. And right now, I’m making a movie in New York called The Other Guys with Will Farrell and Marc Walberg, which should be a fun movie. I’ve been working on that since late September, which is why I’m doing these shows at Comix, since I’m in town anyway. Comix is a wonderful club to perform at: I’ve been to a lot of clubs around the country, and it’s one of the best.
KF: How did your comic persona evolve, and who are your influences?
RR: I’m more of a storyteller in my comedy. I’m not a traditional “three jokes per minute with a punch line“ kind of comedian. Eddie Murphy was my idol, after I saw his concert movie Delirious. That was one of the first comic things I’d seen like that, and I thought it was amazing. I’m a fan of all kinds of comedians: after Eddie, there’s also Denis Leary and Bill Murray. It’s also a genre thing too, because I love the comedic acting which they all did as well as the stand-up.
originally posted on timessquare.com