All pictures by Eric Michael Pearson, courtesy of Doug Smith
Comic Doug Smith was as soon as stabbed within the face by a deranged assailant, however to listen to him inform it, the incident was a breeze in comparison with fatherhood. Fortunately for Smith — whose sharp, self-deprecating fashion of comedy has made him a staple of the New York stand-up scene and earned appearances on Conan in addition to his personal net collection (the self-defense satire, Secret Weapon) — the challenges of parenthood may be tempered by weed.
And as he particulars on his debut comedy LP, Barely Regal — which debuted at No. 1 on the iTunes comedy chart in December, 2019 — marijuana has helped him stability his profession with parental duties. “I do know it may well make me extra affected person and easygoing if I’m feeling careworn,” he stated.
Weed additionally assists the stand-up in delivering sensible, irreverent comedy. One other Barely Regal observe, “We Prefer to Get together,” neatly sums up each Smith’s strategy to weed and his stand-up persona, which suggests a stoner and one-time hellraiser utilizing his wits to navigate fatherhood and different grown-up considerations.
When his spouse expresses concern over their son discovering his vape pen, Smith makes use of it as a chance to poke enjoyable at himself and parental paranoia whereas additionally praising his child’s nascent smarts: “She’ll go, ‘What if he will get excessive?’ I’ve had this factor for over a yr — I’m undecided I’m getting excessive. He will get a good hit off that factor, he’s fucking earned it.”
This interview has been edited for size and readability.
MERRY JANE: Inform us about your first time doing stand-up comedy.
Doug Smith: [It was at the] Tremendous Ego open mic at Parkside Lounge on the Decrease East Facet of Manhattan. I moved to New York Metropolis 4 years previous to pursue a standup profession, however I had wasted all that point simply being a drunk whore. I used to be doing improv on the time, as a result of I felt like I may solely deal with being on stage if I used to be with seven different folks. I used to be a really inconsistent improviser, and knew I used to be simply spinning my wheels. However considered one of my mates on my improv workforce, Luke Cunningham, was actively pursuing standup, and I might at all times choose his mind after apply.
“Is it terrifying? What do you do if nobody laughs?” I’d ask.
He stated, “Properly, who’s laughing at this shit?” referring to the improv.
I spotted that with stand-up, you’ve got some management. You may put together. I already had some jokes written. I simply needed to make the leap. So, the one New Yr’s decision I’ve ever made was in January 2009, after I vowed to do an open mic. It was abysmal, and everybody hated me, however fortunately, I’m strongly motivated by spite.
How concerning the first time you tried weed?
I used to be raised a Jehovah’s Witness, so medicine, together with just about every little thing else, was forbidden. However by the point I used to be 17, I positively had one foot out the door. One other woman in my congregation was in the same place, so we gravitated towards one another. One time, I met her at this child’s home in Norwalk, Connecticut. He had a shaved head, tattoos, and a gold grill. He was our age, however he seemed like a grizzled ex-con. He had this pit bull pet who saved pissing on the carpet. He didn’t even attempt to mop it up. He sprayed the piss stain with Clorox.
It was a really unusual scene: enjoying Avenue Fighter and consuming Coronitas whereas a number of bleach spots unfold throughout the ground. Ultimately, he introduced out a bubbler. I took an enormous rip and instantly fell in love. I stayed one other 4 hours smoking and consuming after which drove residence to beat my curfew. I awakened the subsequent morning, fully baffled as to how I obtained residence. However I positively wished to get my palms again on that bubbler.
You point out vaping on Barely Regal. Is that your most well-liked technique?
It was for about two years. It was simply so rattling handy. Glossy, attractive. Simply pull a pen out of your pocket and toke wherever you need. And no odor! Took a number of the stigma away from being a pothead. However, after all, that was too good to be true. Folks began dying, and even when I get cartridges from a “respected supply,” I get past paranoid the second I take successful. So, now I’m again the place I began: choking on ash from a one-hitter whereas setting my mustache on hearth.
What about edibles?
I like them if I’ve 4 hours to kill. I’ve had some severe freakouts, although. I did Conan in 2016 and popped a celebratory [infused] Tootsie Roll the second I stepped off stage. A number of hours later, I’m having a full blown panic assault in my resort room. All I wished to do was take a bathe, however I used to be shaking so arduous I used to be afraid I’d slip and crack my head open. So, I simply lay in mattress bare, with a face filled with make-up, pondering, “Not less than if I die, this can make issues simpler for the mortician.” Then, I assumed, “No! I cannot die alone in a resort room!” That’s my largest concern. So, I placed on sweatpants and went all the way down to the foyer so if I died, I might not be alone, however [instead] in entrance of a bunch of youngsters on a subject journey to Common Studios.
Have you ever ever written a joke when you had been stoned?
Certain. Write excessive, edit sober. Truly it’s extra like write excessive, understand it’s whole dogshit sober. Weed positively will get the artistic juices flowing, however I do provide you with some full nonsense generally. However I [also] love the way it opens your thoughts to letting each doable thought movement via you. It helps me get out of my very own means, which is strictly what I want.
Have you ever carried out when you had been excessive?
Sure. Disastrous. There was a pair reveals in NYC the place that was the gimmick. Comics get excessive as fuck backstage after which do a set for a crowd that can be excessive. Everyone seems to be in on the joke. However whenever you’re excessive, and the group is just not, and also you’re attempting to maintain your shit collectively… it’s terrifying.
Does it assist your comedy in some other means?
I wish to smoke after a very good set. The [natural] excessive [you get] from destroying a crowd is like consuming a gallon of Crimson Bull. It will probably hold you buzzing for hours, which, when you get off stage at 12:30am and you must drive your child to high school the subsequent morning, is just not a very good factor. So, I’ll smoke some indica to knock myself out.
Has your stand-up modified over time?
Completely. It’s in all probability arduous to imagine, seeing as how my largest declare to fame is a 15-minute story about getting my face slashed, however I began out as a foolish one-liner man. “You guys into teabagging? Not me. What’s so nice about dipping your balls in a cup of boiling water?”
Apart from attempting to smuggle weed into Mexico, as you point out on the Barely Regal observe “Weed Eater,” what was the most effective concept you conceived whereas stoned, however turned out to be an actual catastrophe?
I simply noticed Uncut Gems whereas stoned outta my gourd, and that was a catastrophe. Most likely essentially the most aggravating film I’ve ever seen. Doesn’t have to be enhanced with a particularly potent sativa.
On Barely Regal, you discuss being a stay-at-home dad, like me. So, let’s dispel some myths about stay-at-home dads.
They’re not all a bunch of freeloading shithheels bleeding their wives dry. Loads of them are, I’m certain. However a number of us are on profession paths that free us up throughout daytime hours. Comedians, musicians, drag queens. It’s a reasonably nice setup I’ve obtained. My spouse is a psychoanalyst who works in the course of the day, after which she relieves me at evening so I can do gigs. My son is sort of by no means with out not less than one mum or dad round. He’s obtained it too good, and he’s gonna wind up an entitled little prick.
Let’s additionally dispel some myths about weed use and being a dad. There are new dads who love weed, but additionally would possibly assume that after the newborn arrives, there isn’t any extra weed.
I positively thought that. You haven’t any concept what you’re doing, and also you simply need to hold them alive. Should you’re susceptible to paranoia, weed won’t aid you really feel like a extra competent mum or dad. I keep in mind taking two weeks off from smoking after my son was born. My spouse was out one evening, he was asleep, and I assumed it’d be secure to take a pair tokes off my one-hitter. Ten minutes later, I’m hovering over my son in his bassinet with my soiled, resin-crusted finger underneath his nostril, checking his respiration and muttering, “I’m a foul dad. I’m a foul dad.” Now, I’ve a greater deal with on issues.
Is there ever a parenting state of affairs the place it’d assist to be stoned?
It’s very apparent after I’m excessive. My eyes appear to be paper cuts. So, I don’t actually need him seeing that and questioning what the fuck occurred to me. But when it’s a gentle excessive, it may well positively improve story time or arts and crafts. Something the place you must get in contact together with your [personal] inside little one. Subsequent time you go to the seaside, sneak a fast toke within the lavatory and watch your child’s eyes gentle up as you construct essentially the most bitchin’ sand castles he’s ever seen.
You’ve gotten plenty of initiatives going at any time: stand-up, your net collection Secret Weapon, appearances on Comedy Central. How do you stability all of them and nonetheless have time to be a stay-at-home mum or dad?
It’s robust to compartmentalize work, household, and downtime. They’re all vital. It’s simple to be together with your child and provide you with an concept for one thing, pull out your cellphone, and begin typing away. However then you definitely’re not being current, and your child picks up on that. If you’re together with your child, be together with your child. If you’re not, don’t squander that valuable time. Keep centered and work. When you’ve got on a regular basis on the planet, it may well gas procrastination. Having a child has made me far more disciplined than I ever thought doable.
When your son grows up, what is going to you inform him about weed?[*Nate Dogg voice*] “Smoke weed on a regular basis.” It’s drugs. It doesn’t agree with everybody, but when it makes you calmer, much less anxious, and extra artistic, go for it.
What’s subsequent for you? The place can folks subsequent see you reside, on the internet, on TV?
My album Barely Regal is offered now on all platforms. I’ll be on the Moontower Comedy Pageant in Austin, TX in April, and hopefully again on the boob tube quickly. Examine my web site www.dougsmithcomedy.com for tour updates, and observe me on Instagram @whodougsmith for video clips and hyperlinks to reveals round NYC.