The comedian and actor on his first gig, his witty family, and “Whitney”
By Angela Barbuti
If you go to see Chris D’Elia’s comedy show at Carolines this weekend, some of his act will be about dating. It’s not surprising that he gets his material from hanging out with friends at diners late at night. It seems like a no-brainer that NBC casted the former “Whitney” star as the lead in its new show, “Undateable.” The 33-year-old plays a dating coach to his lovelorn friends. When asked if life imitated art, D’Elia replied, “I’m acting.” Besides this new show, he is in the process of cutting a Comedy Central special of his work and has some movies on the horizon. “I’m right where I want to be,” he said.
You live in LA. How is it different to perform in New York?
In New York, there’s a lot of different kinds of people and I really like that. I perform in LA so much that I see a lot of the same people.
What is the demographic at your shows?
It’s like 18 to 40 year-olds who come to see me. And all different races. In LA a lot of Persians like me. I don’t know why that happened, but that happened.
Persians? Really, why?
Maybe cause I’m hairy.
How do you come up with material?
Hanging out with my friends late night at diners- that’s how I always come up with my material. If I can make them laugh, then I can bring it to the stage. Sometimes it works, and when it works, I add it to the act. And then sometimes, when it doesn’t, I just get mad at my friends.
Tell people who have never seen your act what it’s about.
Different people, different cultures. A lot about dating and ex-girlfriends.
Where was your first stand-up gig?
My first actual show was at the Ha Ha Café in North Hollywood in 2006. I invited some friends. I was so nervous. But it turned out well and then after that, I bombed for a few months and ended up earning my stripes.
When did you first realize that you were funny?
[Laughs] I don’t know; I’m still trying to figure it out. As long as they’re laughing, I’m happy. I thought that things that I thought were funny made me funny. My mom and my dad – and my brother – they’re just so funny, so it’s tough to keep up. I was the butt of a lot of jokes growing up, so that made me stronger in that respect. So I just started to make fun of people. They created a monster, I think.
Your dad is in the business too. Did he want you to go into entertainment?
No, he wanted the opposite. But he came to some shows and was happy about it. I made him laugh, so he was all for it.
Many know you from the show “Whitney.” What was that experience like for you?
It was great. I loved Whitney [Cummings] and all the people who were involved with that show. It was kind of a dream job. It was so close to where I lived and I loved hanging out with the people – they were friends. I knew Whitney before we started doing the show.
You’re going to be on a new show in the fall on NBC.
Yeah, it’s called “Undateable.” I’m the lead and actually, a guy who used to be my opener, Brent Morin, is the co-lead in it. It’s pretty cool that we get to work together.
How did this role come about?
I was doing “Whitney,” and Bill Lawrence, the guy who created “Scrubs” – he does “Undateable” – and he really wanted me for the role. So NBC said, “OK, we’ll have Chris for the role, but if we pick up ‘Whitney,’ then we’re gonna have to recast the role.” But “Whitney” got canceled and the next day they picked up “Undateable.”
It’s about you giving dating advice to guys, right?
I’m trying to get the undateables, dateable.
Does that happen in real life?
I’m acting. No. I don’t know if I’m the dateable one in real life.
Follow Chris on Twitter @chrisdelia
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