Andrew Santino is in a fantastic mood when we connect by phone. His mind is clear, which he attributes to the joint he smoked the night before. “Sometimes the next day I feel more calm in the morning. My days are so stressful, every waking hour on the calendar has something on it. When do I have an hour just to chill out?”
Between recording his solo podcast “Whiskey Ginger,” to recording a new joint podcast with Bobby Lee (“Bad Friends”), to prepping for the remainder of his nationwide stand-up tour—The Red Rocket Tour—and promoting a new tv show with Lil Dicky (“Dave”) dropping March 4th on FXX, hours to “chill out” seem like a rarity, and it’s easy to understand why Andrew is seen as one of the hardest working comics in the business.
How do you balance such an insane schedule?
Andrew Santino: I take long runs. I run almost everyday for at least five to eight miles. I just throw on my headphones and go. I Forrest Gump it. Every time, no destination. When my body is done, it tells me, and then I turn around and go home. But yeah, I pick an area I want to run in and just zone out. It’s how I recenter myself. If I’m super stressed out or super overwhelmed, it makes me feel clean again, you know? The pain you put your body through, the muscle soreness, it feels so good when you’re done and you take a nice shower.
You already have your own successful podcast. Why create another one with Bobby Lee?
Andrew Santino: Bobby and I joined forces because of the fans. There were a lot of fans who really enjoyed whenever we got together [on each other’s podcasts]. We’re good friends who yell at each other and we have a wonderfully chaotic relationship. And that’s what we put on display for the show, in addition to talking about current events and other topics in our lives.
When did you and Bobby first meet?
Andrew Santino: Bobby and I met at the Comedy Store 10 or 11 years ago. He was a big proponent of me getting passed at The Store and was the one who would tell Tommy [former booker] to watch me. I was kind of on the right path already, but he liked my stuff and helped talk me up a little bit to the [comedy] community and was a big champion of mine.
You know such a diverse range of people. Athletes, musicians, other actors, comics. How is it that people gravitate to you so easily?
Andrew Santino: I get along with a lot of different people from a lot of different backgrounds—career or physical—because I’m interested in people. I don’t give a shit about the politics, I’m interested in the person. I love connecting with people.
I think that’s why my audience spans different age ranges, races and genders. Because I’m very interested in a wide range and different types of people. I don’t really surround myself with the same kind of person, in terms of friends. So my perspective tends to be of someone who has a lot of different kinds of people in their life. That helps influence my comedy and helps influence the reach of my audience.
What was your introduction to comedy?
Andrew Santino: I would say my grandfather. He was by far the funniest dude I’ve ever met in my entire life. He came from nothing and built himself up from nothing and always used humor to deflate uncomfortable situations. Actually, my whole mother’s side of the family brings a lightheartedness and sense of humor to almost everything. Stereotypical Irish Catholic formula: hide your pain, have a drink, and have a laugh. Making fun of shit is the best way to deal with discomfort or pain. But yeah, my grandfather could make anybody smile, an-y-body. He was the man I wanted to be like and l looked up to him a lot.
And when did you know you wanted to be a comedian?
Andrew Santino: My childhood was built on big commercial comedies. “Caddyshack,” “Dumb and Dumber.” My dad showed me “Animal House.” Rowdy, goofy, big character-driven comedy is what made me fall in love with comedy. The comedic tool that was instilled in my family—and that I was perhaps born with—gave me the impetus to want to perform. I wanted to make people laugh all the time.
Where did the inspiration for your material come from?
Andrew Santino: I had a lot of natural comedic perspective in me. I think some people have it and some people don’t. Some people just have a comedic mindset.
My mother’s side of the family—their humor—compiled with the way I was raised, helped shape my comedic sensibilities. My mother was a single mom for awhile, my father was an addict and I’m the product of divorce. [Those collective experiences] help you learn how to joke about things that are unfortunate or uncomfortable and definitely shape your sense of humor.
Richard Pryor talks about his mom being a prostitute. I’m not saying you have to live through pain to be funny, but it certainly does put a little more sugar on everything. It definitely sweetens up a good joke when you can turn something really sad into something hilarious.
Is it cathartic to tell those jokes?
Andrew Santino: I don’t really hold on to a lot of those [traumas]. A therapist would probably disagree, but I don’t need to say anything [on stage] in order to feel clear or have the weight lifted. But I enjoy doing it because people have experienced similar stuff as me or more tragic than me, and it’s a wonderful bond I can make with an audience. Alternatively, it’s a really cool perspective to hear someone tell a story about something you’ve never lived through that’s kind of wild to hear.
I don’t think it’s cathartic in the sense of “Oh, I can go to sleep at night now.” It’s more like the scene in “Home Alone” when Kevin finally goes, “I’m not afraid anymore!” It kind of feels like that. You get this weird sense of confidence as you grow as a comedian to—and I hate this phrase—“tell your truth.” When you get to tell your truth, you don’t care. You’re not scared. What am I scared of? Telling you that I didn’t have a perfect life? Telling you that we all have insecurities, that we all have discomforts? You grow as a stand-up and it makes you feel more free and more real with yourself and your comedy.
It’s like by leaning into who you are and being your authentic self on stage, people are receiving it well, and now you being your authentic self is what people enjoy.
Andrew Santino: When you start to “find your voice,” I think it’s because you’ve accepted who you are. If [the audience] likes you, they like you, and if they don’t, what are you going to do, you know? You’re not going to change just to appeal to every single audience. You begin to get happy about people accepting the way you are and who you are. It’s wonderful and makes you feel better as a comedian.
What was your first big “win” in your career that made you feel like you were on the right path?
Andrew Santino: When I booked an MSN hosting job for a daily Internet show. I was at my day job when I got the call and I hung up the phone and started running east on Wilshire. It’s so vivid in my mind. I was smiling so hard because I knew from that moment on I wasn’t going to have to have a day job anymore. I didn’t know that for a fact, but was, you know, hoping.
What was it like to grow up idolizing Jim Carrey to then be working with him on “I’m Dying Up Here” a couple years ago?
Andrew Santino: The stereotypical answer would be “surreal,” but that’s what it was. It was incredible. How would I explain [working with Jim] to 14 year old me? But at some point, as a working actor and comedian, you begin to go, “Yeah, this is what I wanted. This is cool.” Not that I deserve it, but you’re not taken aback by Jim and you’re not like, “Whoa, I can’t believe it.” It’s more like, “I’m so proud that I got here.” It’s more of an accomplishment of a goal. Working with Jim Carrey is exactly what you think it would be. He’s a comedic genius and probably one of the most profound comedic performers that we’ve ever had. A guy who goes from talking out of his butthole to “Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind.” Jim’s one of a kind.
As a boss, he’s wonderful. He’s a comedy nerd who loves comedy and loves comedians. He treated me like a peer, which was fucking crazy. 14 year old me would be losing my head.
14 year old you wouldn’t necessarily know how to comprehend that.
Andrew Santino: It’s a wild thing to think about. I really couldn’t tell you how I’d feel in that moment. If you showed me a screen into the future and it was me hanging out with Jim having dinner with him…I don’t know, man. I would probably collapse from the amazement. I’d be like, “How is this real?” I used to sit in my basement and mimic his every word and physical move. It’s super trippy.
What’s the premise of your new show on FX?
Andrew Santino: It’s me and Lil Dicky and a ton of other people. The show is called “Dave”—which is his real name—and it’s about a white Jewish kid from Philly who moves to Los Angeles to make it as a rapper. It’s like “Curb” set in the rap/hip-hop world. It’s funny, man. Based on his life. I play his best friend and manager. I hope people like it.
How does cannabis play a role in your creative process?
Andrew Santino: I’ve had an ongoing affair with cannabis for 21 years. There’s been moments in my life where I’ve smoked pot every day. There’s been times where I’ve taken months off. But it’s always a thing I’ve used as a mental and physical relaxant. If I’m a hardworking mom, it’s my glass of wine at the end of the day.
I used to use cannabis a lot more during the creative process, but now it’s more of a reflectant. I can sit back, have a glass of whiskey, smoke a joint and sit on the patio with my wife and my dog. Those are some of the best nights of my life.
Follow @cheetosantino and check out andrewsantino.com for tickets and tour dates.