Exit Interview: Stephen Lynch
THOUGH SONG-WRITING FUNNYMAN Stephen Lynch was born in Abington, he probably won’t spend much time during his shows at the Borgata on the 4th and 5th discussing his hometown (for good reason, as you’ll see). Instead, expect plenty of cuts from his new album, 3 Balloons, which is definitely not about a birthday-party clown. The 38-year-old shared his thoughts on his warped sense of humor, Adam Sandler, and why Bob Saget and Beyoncé should be very afraid.
Your official bio doesn’t mention you were born in Abington. Why the shame about your hometown? I’m surely not ashamed of being born in Pennsylvania. My bio used to say that I was born and raised in Kalamazoo. I was too lazy to proofread it, and whoever was doing my publicity thought Kalamazoo was much catchier than Abington or Saginaw, Michigan. I like to be a mystery. Nobody knows where I was born or raised. [laughs]
How long did you live here? Uh, maybe a little less than a year. But if Pennsylvania still wants to honor itself as the state of my birth and put up some statue, I’m fine with that.
There goes my next question: How did growing up here influence your career? [laughs] Those were formative weeks of my life, so I’m sure they had a great influence on me. Is anyone else semi-famous from Abington?
I‘ll look into that. I assume when you were an infant, your parents weren’t singing songs to you like “Jim Henson’s Dead” and “HermAphrodite”? No, but I grew up on folk music and singer-songwriter stuff of the ’60s and ’70s – Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell. Their musical sensibility seeped in somewhere. I just took that narrative style and twisted it. The ideas come from out of the blue. My wife is a good litmus test. If I shout something to her and she laughs, I try to write about it.
Is there a song idea you thought was brilliant until your wife shot it down? So many. Before I wrote “The Craig Machine,” which is about Jesus Christ’s ne’er-do-well brother Craig, there was one about a guy with the unfortunate name of Adolf Schmitler. I laughed and laughed to myself. Can you imagine going through life with the name Adolf Schmitler? I said it to her, and she had that Daffy Duck slow-burn stare. I went, “Okay! Let’s move on.”
Your new album, 3 Balloons, is named for a tune about a nervous drug mule boarding an airplane with heroin hidden in his rectum. You really cut right to the heart of the song.
Spoiler alert there. How much of your material is autobiographical? [laughs] None of it. And if it were, I’d never cop to it. I got that idea from a movie called Maria Full of Grace. It was very sad, but I find humor in the strangest of places.
Do you consider yourself a musician first and a comedian second? I realize people consider me a comedian first. But I think the secret to my success is that I take the music seriously. It’s what I really love. As much as I complain about what I do, it’s a dream job. I don’t have to work at Kinko’s.
You were nominated for a Tony for your role in The Wedding Singer on Broadway. Was Adam Sandler pissed? [laughs] Why would he be pissed about that?
He didn’t score any awards for the movie, and then you come along and land all sorts of accolades. Let me say, he should have gotten an Oscar nod. His performance was sublime. But no, he came backstage after a show and told me he enjoyed it. I don’t know if he was lying, but he seemed to like it. It’s funny, because I spent the first five years of my career trying to get out from under the shadow of Adam Sandler. Then I take a role he made famous.
So I’ve got those Abington natives for you: Bob Saget, Joey Lawrence and his brother Matthew … The Lawrence brothers? Wow. That makes me the fourth most famous person to come out of Abington.
Bill Keane from the Family Circus cartoons. NHL goalie Mike Richter … This is really getting depressing. I thought I’d be in the top three, at least. I’ll just have to become really super-famous now. My goal is to supplant Saget as number one.
At least you’ve been hailed as “the Beyoncé of Scandinavia.” I made that up myself.