Dan Soder Taping his Comedy Central Special at the Trocadero
At 32, comedian Dan Soder is no longer the rookie on the comedy circuit. Nor is he quite the senior comic with bragging rights to his own sitcom or an appearance on Jerry Seinfeld’s cliquey Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. But things are breaking his way, and he is moving steadily up the comedy ladder. Yes, he played “dumpster guy” with no lines in Amy Schumer’s summer comedy, Trainwreck, but hey, he got to make out with Schumer, and that Judd Apatow movie was definitely the party to be at with A-list comedians, actors and athletes piled into every scene.
Soder is a Queens-based blunt talking regular guy — a self-described “Beta male smartass. I’m the least dude-bro-guy you could ever meet” — who’s taping his Comedy Central hour-long special at the Trocadero on December 3rd. The special is expected to run in early 2016. He also scored a regular radio gig this July when Comedy Central launched its first live weekly show on SiriusXM. Soder co-hosts the two-hour, twice-a-week radio show, The Bonfire, with Philadelphia comedian Big Jay Oakerson. He is a regular on Inside Amy Schumer and The Half Hours, as well as MTV’s Guy Code.
The radio show gives him a lot of air time to vent against those who invite mockery. The deep-voiced comedian finds people who take themselves too seriously intolerable. So he’s got a lot to work with. His bit on pompous “weed sommeliers” is delivered with a combination of incredulity and irritation that only a guy raised in the suburbs of Denver could deliver. He feels similarly about dude-bro guys. “I mock them. They’re awful,” says Soder. “I don’t feel comfortable with my shirt off.”
We talked by phone as Soder grabbed a coffee at the Starbucks at Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan and headed down the street during rush hour. “Walking down Fifth Avenue makes me want to fistfight 40 people in one block,” he mutters.
Soder tells me about Billions, the television show on Showtime airing January 17th next year, where he appears as a regular character — not one of the good guys, he clarifies. The drama is conveniently being shot in New York City and stars Damian Lewis as a hedge fund titan doing battle with an anti-corruption U.S. attorney played by Paul Giamatti. “They’re very intrigued by my work, as I am with theirs,” says Soder. “Actors have to nail it every time, but the beauty of comedy is in the fucking up.”
Soder explains the dangers the standup faces: “When a joke doesn’t hit, you might think ‘That’s kind of weird,’ and then start worrying none of your jokes will hit. The newer the act, the quicker the panic sets in. The good comics sit in the pocket, like a good quarterback. If a quarterback throws an interception, he’ll send a few passes on the next few plays to get the ball moving. He’ll get traction and then keep going. Everyone bombs. If you don’t, you’re probably telling hack jokes. If you expose yourself to a degree of difficulty with your jokes, you could run into an audience who doesn’t agree.”
Anxiety about bombing and euphoria over crushing a set could certainly be a trigger to knock back a shot or two. Philadelphia comic W.C. Fields was known as much for his epic drinking as for his biting wit. Soder has spoken openly about his own relationship with alcohol. “The amount of work I get done now is huge because I’m no longer hungover. I used to be sick all day because I’d stayed up till 4 in the morning. You don’t get much down when all you want to do is lay in bed with a headache,” says Soder. “Every morning I was feeling that way. It was 12 years of drinking before I stopped. I think there are a lot of people who use a program. You should just do what works for you and what helps you become a better person. I’m not in a program. I still smoke pot, which the program is very against.”
His material has changed, too. Gone are the crazy alcohol-fueled tales. “It would be really weird if I was still talking about drinking. It would mean I haven’t let go of it. It would be like I was constantly making jokes about an ex-girlfriend.”
Comedy Central has filmed other standup specials at the Troc, so it clearly likes the vibe and look of the 140-year-old theater in Chinatown. Taping happens over the course of two free sets on Thursday night. “The Troc is perfect,” says Soder. “It’s got some class and grit. It looks like a beautiful theater and a cool rock club.”
But Soder has some directions for those in attendance at the show. “I want them to come out and have a good time, but don’t yell out. It only takes one or two assholes to ruin the night, and I don’t want to verbally beat the piss out of people while the show is taping. Philly is temperamental in a good way. You have to really bring your ‘A’ game. They keep you on your toes.”
Dan Soder films his comedy special at the Trocadero on Thursday, December 3. Show starts at 9:30 pm. For tickets and more information, go here.
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