Dan Soder is a stand-up comedian and one half of the Sirius/XM radio show The Bonfire. As his comedic trail continues to rise in the entertainment industry, he’s one of the most humble human beings you could ever meet. I was lucky enough to sit down with Dan to talk about his first HBO comedy special, fantasy wrestling matches, and why he doesn’t have an action figure yet. But enough of my rambling check out our great conversation about his HBO special: Son of a Gary. Enjoy.
AIPT: So Dan, your first-ever HBO comedy special, Dan Soder: Son of a Gary comes out on December 7th, I was privileged enough to attend the show and let me be one of the first to tell you, it is hilarious.
DAN SODER: Yeah man, that’s great! I appreciate it. That was a whole lotta fun. I’ve never done a special in New York so it felt like a home game.
AIPT: Wow, really? You’ve never done a show in the city?
DS: So it’s weird all the standup stuff I’ve ever done has always been out of New York City. Whether it be Conan, Comedy Central half-hour, the Netflix half-hour or Comedy Central hour it was always in different cities. So this was like a really cool chance to do something at home.
AIPT: Okay so before we jump into the juicy details of your HBO special, I know that you’re a huge wrestling fan and I’ve been dying to ask you this question. So combining wrestling with comedy, if you could create the ultimate WrestleMania pay per view main event putting one of your favorite comedians against your favorite wrestler who would you pick and why?
DS: Major Mark, Major Mark! If you’re gonna open up with wrestling were gonna have to do a four-hour podcast! Man what a great question. However, because I’m such a wrestling fan, I’m going to modify the match. I’m going to say I’ll set a headlining Wrestle Mania match with wrestlers in the corners of the two people wrestling. So I’d want to see Seth Rollins versus Kenny Omega for the big old WCW belt. Call it best in the world and in Omega’s corner I want Dave Chapelle and in Rollins corner, I want Maria Bamford
AIPT: Love those choices!! So how did your HBO comedy special come about? Who approached who?
DS: I was on the road, it had been about a year and a half since I did Netflix: The Standups. And I kind of knew that there was a new hour but I knew I was gonna have a new hour soon. I was probably about three-fourths of the way there. I loved working with Netflix and they’re a great company to work with. But to me, the gold standard has always been and will be HBO. The HBO hour was just one of those things and we had heard through a couple of different people that HBO was a fan of mine or that they liked me. I was doing an hour at the Comedy Cellar in New York. So my agent invited HBO and they came out and liked it and said let’s do an hour which was mind-blowing
DS: HBO to me is the reason why I’m in comedy. It’s the reason I’m obsessed with it. I think we can agree when you watch HBO growing up it was like oh if someone put out a special it was like oh this person I need to pay attention to this person’s comment. I’ve said it before but Chris Rock’s specials back to back Bring The Pain and then Bigger and Blacker, Dave Chapelle’s Killing Them Softly are just so iconic for me.
DS: So yeah I think HBO has always been kind of the place I wanted to land and do something and I’m happy that this hour is at HBO. I’m happy with the jokes that are on this hour and that it’s gonna be an HBO special because that way you don’t watch it on Comedy Central because you can tell it’s edited.
AIPT: Did you already have material lined up for the special? Or did you have to write all new jokes?
DS: No, I had about the hour three-fourths of the way there. But the great thing about HBO is when I spoke to them I said listen can I get some extra time with this. They definitely gave me an opportunity and didn’t meddle in it or be like no you can’t do that joke. They were just like yeah. Every time I sent them what the hour was they were like this is great. And you love hearing that when you’re making stuff you love people being like it’s up to you. Because I think in every line in every profession you have so many people who feel like their job needs to be proven by them giving input. And I think that’s not how stuff should work.
AIPT: Do you write all your own material?
DS: Absolutely! I think the only outside input is when a comedian watches my stuff and they’ll be like, “Hey have you ever thought of this tag or something like that.”
AIPT: Have you ever gone to another comedian with a joke or for advice?
DS: No, but one time specifically that’s in the special but I’ll give credit to is a joke about the worse your childhood is the better at sex you are. And there’s a joke I talk about going down on women and Beth Stelling gave me a great line where it was like “I’m broken and your cum is the glue.” And she was like you can use it and I was like that’s perfect and Beth Stelling is so funny.
AIPT: Do you have any rituals or anything like that before you go out on stage? Because when you came out on stage I felt like you were ready.
DS: Yeah. I like coffee and weed. I like to smoke a little bit of weed. I don’t like to get stoned but I like to get just a little high and a coffee so I’m a little amped. My favorite comedy has always been conversational comedy, the kind of stuff that feels like you’re just having a conversation with someone but you’re not responding and they’re picking up your cues. I think Chapelle’s a lot like that, Louie is a lot like that. Bill Burr is a guy you watch and you feel like you’re just going off but I’m your friend listening and I’m reacting like that. I feel like that’s always been a style I’ve wanted to keep. And yeah that’s kind of how I get ready. Some people like to be alone before they tape. I like to have friends in the room.
AIPT: We have a mutual friend in Black Lou.
DS: Dude, Black Lou’s the man! Something that people don’t understand about The Bonfire is you know there are people that do radio shows and they just kind of have a staff and they just work and it’s real business-like. We’re a family. I love both Louis’s, Jacob, and Merc face. Because that’s what our show is. It’s us sitting around bullshitting with each other trying to make each other laugh. And that’s why comedically I’m like that stand up wise but then also that’s what I wanna do. I am a son of a Gary but my dad was also a bartender. And that’s how I saw him be funny a lot when I was a kid. It was just like entertaining strangers in a way of like “ Hey come to sit, have a drink.” Not like here are jokes, do you like my jokes? You know it’s like you like to find out stuff about people and then commiserate on stuff.
AIPT: To touch on your show Billions for a sec, How come there’s no funko pop of your character McPhee? What’s up with that?
DS: I’m a huge action figures fan and I always have been. And you know how in action figures they always do the first line. Like with X-men it was all the X-men but then they did the second and third line was like Gambit and Apocalypse. So I think like Dollar Bill, Ben Kim, and I are like the second line. So if Funko is reading this do a second line with like Chuck Senior and Me.
AIPT: So if you could sum it up for fans and newcomers of your HBO comedy special, how would you describe it and why should they check it out?
DS: I worked real hard on it and they’re fun jokes. I think in the age of streaming and 24-hour news cycles I think a lot of opinions are yelled at people. If you want to watch jokes that you can kind of turn everything off and just watch because it’s fun and a little dark but mostly fun. I’d say give Son of a Gary a shot. Give it a shout that’s all I can ask.
AIPT: Can you give us an HBO promo for your special in your macho man voice?
DS(Think of Macho Man’s Voice): The undisputed, YEAH, I’m talking about a lot of specials but none of them are as special as Son of a Gary, Yeah!
AIPT: Dan, it’s been a pleasure.
DS: Dude, thanks for having me on.
Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can browse AIPT ad-free, gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!