George Carlin is My Template: Drew Carey on Returning to Standup

  Fred Topel talks with Drew Carey about Standup and The Price is Right   

Fred Topelby Fred Topel

As part of the Television Critics Association summer press tour, CBS held a CBS daytime panel which included two of its soaps, “Let’s Make a Deal,” “The Price is Right” and “The Talk.” Drew Carey was there representing “TPIR” so after the panel, a number of reporters approached him for further questions. We got a lot of our own questions in about “Price” and Carey’s return to standup comedy.

Editors Note: Saddly this interview took place before Price is Right announced its male model search, so no information about that can be found here. 


CraveOnline: We all know the story of the woman who came down and her breasts popped out. Can anything that outrageous ever happen again on “The Price is Right?”


Drew Carey: Sure. We had somebody pee her pants on stage. She was playing Plinko, it was in the first season of the show that I did. Things like that always happen. Whenever tube tops come back I’m sure it’s going to happen again.


Were there any games you were surprised how good you were at them?


No. I don’t think I’m good at a game or not. There’s a game called Checkout where there’s grocery items and it’s how much you think the manufacturer’s suggested retail price is and we add up your total, then your total has to be within $2 of the regular total. I don't think I could ever win that game. That game seems like the most impossible thing in the world. Plinko I think you should drop that Plinko chip down the center. I think you should put it right in the middle and drop it, and then you have the best chance. I don’t like going off to one side or the other. I don’t think that works out. People make mistakes on car prices all the time when they have to pick each number, because they try to get 95 at the end, because I think they’re used to seeing payment prices in the paper, so they think that’s the car price when it’s really a payment price, something.95 or 495 a month. They always have prices like that. The end numbers are usually different than that so you can kind of discount the nine or discount the five or discount the zero and that’ll give you a better chance to get the right number but not everybody does that. You know, I tell this story a lot but when I first got the show, I didn’t know any of the games. They taught me the games by showing me just how Bob did them. So it was like I bought a magic trick kit. I don't know if you ever bought magic trick kits when you were a kid, but they give you the patter that goes along with it, “Say this while you’re doing the rings” or “say this while you’re doing the foam rabbit trick.” That’s kind of how it felt. Once I let all that go, now I explain the rules but I just do it how I feel like doing it. As long as I get the rules out it doesn’t matter how I say it. Before I felt like I had to say it a certain way legally or something. Uh-uh, I don’t have to worry about that anymore so I’m a lot looser now. I feel so much more relaxed.


When you go back to standup, is developing material in the Twitter age better, because you’re exposed to a lot more stories?


No. I still have to come up with original stuff and I like to talk about stuff that nobody else is talking about, when I have my own point of view. I’m not going to get that from Twitter. Beginning of the summer I had not even 15 minutes of material. Now I’m up to 40. So it’s slow but sure. I’d like to just be able to go out and do weekends and do gigs, like Wayne [Brady]’s doing, do Vegas gigs and theater gigs and make that a regular part of my life. I missed it.


Do you still have the Dilbert connection?


No, not anymore. I wish I did. That’s the only reason I buy the papers anymore, for the comics. I buy the paper every day and people go, “What do you read the paper for? You get all the news online.” I go, “Well, the comics in the paper.” I do get the comics online I guess but it’s such a pain. I’d rather just get them in the paper and read them. No, I just show up in jeans and a shirt and tennis shoes. I don’t even wear a suit. I’m working on it. Before it was just me but I was wearing a suit. Now I think I’m just me again, just I’m not wearing a suit. But I’m working on it. I know what you’re talking about. I do have a point of view so that’s what makes me unique. The point of view is the same. Bobcat Goldthwait used to do a character, Emo Phillips, there’s people like that. I wasn’t exactly doing that even though I had the short hair and glasses kind of, because I wanted to make myself look like a guy that just didn’t quite fit in. I was a little bit on the outside and was never in quite the mainstream. Now with the way I look it’s hard to do that. People know me so much from all this exposure I’ve had on television, but I couldn’t really do that without having seen my act. So I think right now, I think I’m more like George Carlin. George Carlin is kind of my template now because George Carlin before was straight laced regular comic and he had short hair, a tie, suit, nightclub guy. Then he said screw it, let his hair grow, just started telling what he thought was the truth. So that’s what I’m trying to do.I just hope that Drew Carey’s truth and Drew Carey’s point of view is enough for people without having a character on top. Whatever develops in my standup act is going to develop naturally. It did before, but I got such a good laugh out of the suit and tie and glasses when I walked out on stage, that was kind of a drug for me. It may have been a crutch for me. I was like okay, this is my first laugh if I’m walking on stage with this outfit. It makes everything else a little bit funnier. It was me. Those were the glasses I had. That was my suit. I didn’t plan it. I didn’t think it out. It just happened. So whatever happens with me it’s going to happen organically and I think it’ll be fun.


What are your thoughts on the latest standup scandals, with Daniel Tosh making rape jokes, and Dane Cook trying to make Aurora jokes a week later?


I don't know, people take chances on stage. It’s a big free speech zone, a comedy show. So sometimes things happen, you say things that are a little bit off the edge. I bet they both wish they could take it back, but I’ve said a lot of stuff on stage I wish I could take back. It just happens. Daniel Tosh makes all those kind of jokes on his show all the time. I don't know, somebody got mad at his standup show. When you’re at a standup show, I think you can say anything you want as long as the audience at the show thinks it’s funny. That’s the thing. Anything after that, it’s out of line. Those jokes I avoid altogether and don’t even have in my consciousness because I don’t want anything like that to ever slip out. The reason those things slip out is because those kind of things are in somebody’s consciousness as a funny thing that in the abstract is funny. Not in the reality is funny, but in the abstract is funny. How can I over the top insult somebody? Not that they really would wish that on anybody. I just don’t have that in my head because I don’t want anything like that to ever happen to me.


You had a healthy nine year run on “The Drew Carey Show.” What do you think of the way TV comedy is going now?


It’s great. There’s a lot of good comedies out there. It’s always tough. The TV business is a tough business to be in. If you don’t get ratings, you get cancelled.


Do you feel your show had an influence on the meta elements of today’s shows like “Community,” with some of the more outrageous special episodes you did?


Maybe but Dan Harmon’s kind of like that anyway. I was influenced by other people so I’d hate to say I was the influence. I really do appreciate ABC giving me the opportunity and letting me do that stuff. When we had all these ideas, ABC executives said, “Yeah, go ahead.” So I have to give a lot of credit to them too because they were risking the most. Even doing “Community,” I don’t want to do any more sitcoms but Dan’s a friend of mine so I didn’t want to say no to him. It was fun. I liked it. It was a little easier for me to swallow because it’s a one camera show, so it didn’t feel like doing a show in front of an audience. That I never want to do again. I already did it. I don’t want to do it anymore.