JFL: Tom Segura gets big laughs from little stories

Pop Goes The News — Tom Segura’s Netflix special is titled Mostly Stories because that’s what he does — he tells stories.

Segura will be doing the same on July 26 at Montreal’s L’Olympia, where his No Teeth, No Entry Tour is part of the Just For Laughs festival. (He takes it to Toronto on Sept. 30 for JFL42.)

The 38-year-old stand-up comic’s material comes from the people around him and the experiences he has in his everyday life. Something he lived during the day can get relived on stage that same night.

“Usually I can figure out if it’s a story that has legs or not pretty quickly,” explains Segura, who lives in Los Angeles. “There are times where you talk about the fight in the movie theatre that you witnessed that night and you’re like, ‘this has legs, I can run with this.’

“And then you try to talk about waiting in line at the DMV and it’s a dud.”

Some of Segura’s stories are so hilarious they’re almost unbelievable.

“People always ask me, ‘Did you make that up?’ To me, it’s a crazy thing to ask. Of course not,” he says.

One of those unbelievable yarns in Mostly Stories is about meeting — and subsequently lying to — boxing champ Mike Tyson.

“People thought I made up the Mike Tyson story. Are you out of your mind? You think I would go into that much detail and it’s all made up? No, of course not,” insists Segura. “I just told you what happened. That would get back to him and he’d be like, ‘I never fucking met that guy.’”

Segura also reflects on performing stand-up in London, Ont., which he describes as “a barely-city” and a “turd you put in a dress.” He also riffs on one of the city’s gentlemen’s clubs, the Beef Baron (“Fart is a better name for a strip club”).

How dare Segura mock the birthplace of Ryan Gosling and Justin Bieber!

“Both of those guys are from there?,” he asks.

And Rachel McAdams and Victor Garber.

Segura changes his tune about London. “They have their highs and lows, let’s just leave it at that,” he says.

Segura admits he heard from the people of London after the Netflix special came out. “I have to say, like a lot of Canadians, they really had a good sense of humour about it,” he recalls. “Everybody was really rolling with it.

“And then a lot of people from London were telling me ‘You got the name wrong — it’s not called Beef, it’s the Beef Baron. And by the way, it’s worse than what you described.’ So everybody was really good about it.”

Segura says he regrets not having stopped in at the Beef Baron.

“Everybody from London gives me invites now. They’re like, ’You gotta come, I’ll take you.’ I’m like, ‘I’m good.’ Now I feel like I’ve got to go.”

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Segura knows first-hand that Canadians have a sense of humour because he’s married to comic Christina Pazsitzky, who was born in Windsor, Ont.

Pazsitzky, who co-hosts the Your Mom’s House podcast with her husband, became an American citizen in the ‘90s.

“I always bring it up to her. I’m like, ‘You’re Canadian’ and she’s like, ‘No I’m not.’ Because she’s a naturalized citizen,” says Segura. “I’m like, ‘That’s just paperwork. You’re a fucking Canadian. You were born in Canada.’”

Are we to assume Pazsitzky hates her native land?

“I mean, I don’t think she hates it,” Segura assures, “but whenever I call her out on it she tries to make it an argument. I’m like, ‘What are you talking about? Wherever you’re born, that’s what you are.’”

Their podcast is hilarious, irreverent and, according to Segura, “pretty organic.”

He explains: “We try to sometimes have a talking point, where we’re like, ‘Don’t forget to talk about this or that’ but I find that the best stuff is the stuff that you didn’t plan ahead.”

Have they ever agreed to avoid certain topics?

“I mean, I feel like that’s happened a handful of times…I can’t even give you an example. Maybe I’ll tell her, ‘I talked to my mom about blah blah blah’ and I’ll tell her I don’t want to bring that up.

“Something that I don’t find funny or fun, but that’s really it. I don’t want to bring the mood down.”

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Segura says being married to another comedian makes a lot of sense. “Honestly, it’s all I know,” he says.

“We’ve been together for a dozen years. We’ve been together since before we were traveling on the road, so we were dating when we were open mic’ers and as we started to get work that was just a thing that we were adjusting to at the same time.

“Some of the other guys are married to civilians with regular jobs and they get ‘why are you going to do another show?’ Well that’s what we do. I don’t really have to explain that to my wife.”

In his Just For Laughs appearance, Segura will be as LOL funny and politically incorrect as always. In an age of easily wounded feelings, and 140-character outrage, he’s refreshingly unapologetic.

“I’ve had people get upset about things but I never give that much credit to it,” he says. “Someone’s offended? So what? What do you want from me? You think I’m going to change my fucking act or this is going to affect my day?

“You didn’t like that part of it. Good for you. I didn’t like my fucking appetizer yesterday at the restaurant I went to. That’s life, man, deal with it.”

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Is it easier to find material now that Americans have evidently lost their collective minds?

Segura laughs. “Oh, man. You’re spot on,” he replies. “It’s so depressing to think about that.

“I don’t know that it’s easier. Real anger, genuine anger, is not fun. There’s faux anger and there’s comedic anger. When I think about real issues that piss me off, it’s not funny. I almost have to try to block a lot of that shit out of my mind if I want to be authentic comedic about something. Some of the real world issues are too upsetting personally for me to tackle.”

Segura says he is anxious to soak up some of the “energy” of Just For Laughs even though his time in Montreal is limited.

“I have a free night when I arrive so I’ll definitely pop into a show and check something out that night,” he says. “And then after my show I know that Jeremiah Watkins has a Stand-Up on the Spot show that he does here in L.A. — which is, the audience yells out topics and then you riff and it’s such a fun show. I did it a month ago. He’s doing it [at Katacombes] so I’m definitely going to do that. I’m going to try to pop into that after my show.”

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Throughout his Pop Goes The News interview, Segura comes off as affable — a characteristic lacking in many comedians. Shouldn’t he be miserable?

“I don’t think I’m miserable [but] I’m not walking around with a goofy grin on my face all the time,” he says.

“Comics have to be kind of aggravated by certain things, annoyed, and I think sometimes with certain comics that comes across a little more harshly — but it’s kind of why they’re funny.”

Segura offers his take on the plethora of off-stage unpleasantness in comedy.

“If you walk around and you’re just pleased with everything, I don’t know… that’s not that funny,” he says. “Something has to bother you to talk about. That’s kind of a consistent thing with comics.

“Whether it’s relationships, politics, sex, God… whatever you want to talk about, they have a gripe with something and that’s usually the avenue that they’re going to be funny.”

Tom Segura’s No Teeth, No Entry Tour plays at Montreal’s L’Olympia on July 26 as part of Just For Laughs and at Toronto’s Sony Centre for the Performing Arts on Sept. 30 as part of JFL42. For more information go to hahaha.com

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