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Q&A Part Two: Vince Vaughn: Highlights from Issue 24: The Chicago Issue

Highlights from Issue 24: The Chicago Issue

Vince Vaughn in his Los Angeles office, Nov. 2005 / Photograph by ZEN SEKIZAWA


Wednesday, January 11, 2006

What follows is an excerpt from Issue 24: The Chicago Issue

For more information on this issue, click here

And for more on Vince Vaughn, see Part One of our online excerpt


The Stop Smiling Interview with Vince Vaughn

By James Hughes

On October 11th, the Vince Vaughn Wild West Comedy Show wrapped up its 30th show in 30 nights at the Vic Theatre in Chicago. The tour featured four national touring comedians (Bret Ernst, John Caparulo, Ahmed Ahmed and Sebastian Maniscalco) from the Los Angeles Comedy Store, with Vaughn serving as master of ceremonies. (The show also made a return on New Year's Eve in Las Vegas.) A documentary about the tour is currently in the works.

Stop Smiling: With the Vince Vaughn Wild West Comedy Show, you were able to reach people who don't often get a full-scale comedy show in their town. Did the tour fulfill your expectations?

Vince Vaughn: I think I had a much more romanticized notion, as far as seeing the country. It really came out of inexperience on my part. For some reason, 30 dates in 30 nights rang in my head and I thought, “That's great. From Hollywood to the Heartland.” Also, I'd get a chance to go through the South on the way to where I'm from, the Midwest. But, by playing a different venue every night, we didn't really get much time to spend anywhere, especially when the drives were extremely long. Even when they weren't, it didn't account for getting out and seeing much, just glances from the bus window. But, as far as hitting the most places possible, it was effective. That was the fun part - getting a chance to go to the kinds of towns that don't normally get that kind of entertainment. It was also good for the comedians to go to places where they're not from and see how their material related to different crowds. Regionally, some of the struggles are the same, it's just with a different accent. They'd have to change their set-ups if a place didn't have what they were talking about. If you have a sense of humor about yourself and are self-deprecating, it's easier for people to hear things. Otherwise you come off threatening, as if you're arrogant about whatever your background is and it's cooler than everyone else's.

When these comedians work out material at a place like the Comedy Store during the weekdays, you can sometimes only have 20 people in the room. So there's an adjustment to playing a larger room, like most of the venues we were in. But they all did really well. They all had their own ways of getting in, and other than that they weren't gimmick comics and the jokes were about their life experiences. They were hard on themselves. The thing I was most impressed with was the camaraderie that they had. I think everyone wants to strive to do their best, but they weren't competitive with each other — they were almost protective of each other, because the environment they were going into was so unknown.

SS: You've done a little stand-up here and there, but did you ever pursue it seriously?

VV: I never had a calling for it. I much preferred situation comedy, particularly awkward situations. But I've always had respect for comedians. When I was younger, there was “The Tonight Show” and “Late Night” and they had a lot more stand-up. There was a time there in the '80s and '90s where a lot of stand-ups were getting exposure and it would change their lives. Nowadays it's interesting because most of the talk show hosts were stand-ups, but they don't really have stand-ups onstage all that much. This is a kind of depression time for stand-up comedians. They're not getting the opportunities they once did. So I wanted to get exposure for some guys who obviously chose standup because it's really what they like. There's something pure about the art form — you're just up there by yourself with a microphone, standing in front of a crowd and trying to connect. I respect that purity.

For more on Vince Vaughn, see Part One of our online excerpt


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