Adam Carolla isn’t shocked most comedians’ acts tilt toward the left.
“It’s an easier team to back if you live in Hollywood,” says Carolla, host of the most downloaded podcast on the Internet, ‘The Adam Carolla Show.’ What’s hypocritical, Carolla says, are the dual identities many lead in their professional lives.
“These bigger name guys, they go out and do corporate gigs, they do casinos and theaters, they make 200 grand a pop,” says Carolla, whose own ideology defies simple labels. “Then, they come back to their pulpit and talk about Joe Sixpack and how times are tight.”
“They never talk about the money they make… and you pretend you’re one of them? Bullshit,” he says.
Carolla isn’t shy about telling tales of woe from first class flights or how he feels uncomfortable around his nanny. Nor does he mind being in a cutthroat entertainment business, one that cast him aside in 2009 for failing to live up to Howard Stern’s ratings legacy on the FM dial.
The unapologetic Carolla quickly assembled a comedy podcast in the wake of his Feb. 2009 dismissal from CBS Radio.
“The plan was always to deliver the product and leave it out there for a while, and then see if we could monetize it,” says Carolla, whose wickedly funny cast feature news reader Alison Rosen and sound effects maestro “Bald” Bryan Bishop. “I never really count any chickens before they hatch.”
Two-plus years later, that humble podcast broke the Guinness Book of World Records mark for most downloads. He even turned down a multimillion dollar radio opportunity earlier this year in order to stay faithful to the newer medium.
“It felt natural,” he says of his transition away from terrestrial radio. “This is what I should be doing. It didn’t feel like work.”
The King of All Podcasts insists competition can bring out the best in any industry. The advent of pay channels like HBO and Showtime forced broadcast networks to deliver better content. It even helped domestic car companies, although he claims that hardly happened overnight.
“Fellas, we got about 25-40 years to get our [act] together,” Carolla cracks about an imaginary conversation held by U.S. automobile makers after Datsun and Toyota hit American shores. “Let’s eat and think about it. In 10 years, we’ll come out with something like the K Car.”
Radio station programmers may feel compelled to tweak their formats to respond to the threat posed by podcasters like himself, but the process might take even longer than the transformation felt in the car industry. Carolla jokes your average bank stopped flashing the temperature and time on their signage years ago because most cars already give that information to drivers. But chatty radio hosts still spit out that information Ad nauseum.
“Radio is pretty archaic and stuck in its ways,” he says.
Spend a few minutes talking to Carolla and you’ll feel like you’re eavesdropping on his next comedy podcast. He can riff on any topic, any time, and chances are his spin is both perceptive and original. Anyone can dish on bad airplane food. Carolla obsesses on airline redundancy. Do stewardess really have to warn us against tampering with, damaging, or disabling smoke detectors? Tampering pretty much covers it.
Carolla jokes that he’s not taken seriously as an artist, but he’s none too pleased about how some industry insiders perceive him and his colorful career. He claims a judge at the Sundance Film Festival once held his time co-hosting ‘The Man Show’ against him when considering whether his independent comedy ‘The Hammer’ might make the Utah program’s lineup. And an interviewer for The Daily Beast directly called Carolla a jerk mid-conversation.
“I’m surprised people in this industry aren’t sophisticated enough to understand what it takes to do something… there’s skill and talent and brains involved with creating a show and executing a show,” he says. “If you only know me from ‘The Man Show’ title and what you’ve heard from some of your friends down on Wall Street, you distill it to the lowest common denominator – chicks, beers and trampolines. If somebody takes the time to familiarize themselves with it, it’s a funny sketch show.”
Carolla’s latest venture has him rubbing elbows with the likes of Roger Ebert and other illustrious film critics. He’s teaming with RottenTomatoes.com to review movies -and critical responses – in his own inimitable way.
“I’m gonna complain about the stuff that bothers me as it pertains to film. I’ll speak my mind, assuming a lot of critics think they do. I don’t know if they are, or their minds are feeble,” he says of Adam Carolla’s Rotten Tomatoes Review. “It’s like me answering questions about relationships or breaking down the movie ‘Drive.’ It’s really just me doing what I do. There’s no unique twist other than me doing it.”
Carolla is no Tony Robbins, but he’s not adverse to sharing some life lessons between rants about L.A. drivers or restaurants that serve a half dozen variations on iced tea but no iced tea itself. He’s been open about how little money he made during his 20s, going so far as to read his annual salary figures during his broadcasts and publishing them in his bestselling book, In 50 Years We’ll All Be Chicks.
“I like sharing that part of life. Sometimes it feels a little self-indulgent, but people like that. They can get some inspiration from it,” he says.
Part of Carolla’s shtick finds him harassing his parents for a less-than-nurturing childhood. So how does it feel knowing millions of strangers are hanging on your every last rant?
“I separate who I am from what I do and how I feel about myself,” he says, although he won’t discount the ability he brings to his podcast. “I’m not one of these chicks who, even though I won Miss Universe, looks in the mirror and sees a fat girl. I look in the mirror and see a funny guy.”