Chris D’Elia was on television up until last year on NBC’s Undateable, and Whitney before that. Next week, his second Netflix stand-up comedy special, Chris D’Elia: Man on Fire, drops on the streaming service.
In his unfiltered stand-up, D’Elia talks about his own divorce as a uniquely personal way to explore how men and women expect different things in a relationship. He also exposes the myth that parties are fun (they are not; sorry to break it to you), and he gets a lot of mileage out of the time a male friend bought him pants that fit perfectly, leading him to ponder how another man knew what size he was.
Rotten Tomatoes spoke with D’Elia by phone this week — despite feeling a bit under the weather, he’s already back in clubs working 25 minutes of new material — and shared what shows he’s watching, new and old. Find out what he’s catching up on and the true stories behind the jokes in Man on Fire.
Gosh, I don’t watch much, but I watch The Walking Dead when that comes on. I’m always sitting in front of the TV ready for zombies to die.
Oh gosh, when I DVR to watch later, I watch anything on the ID Channel. I just think eventually one day somebody’s going to kill me.
You know what I really want to see? The Punisher. That’s what I’m excited about. It’s such a fantastic world. You kind of just watch it and zone out. I just like it. To me, it’s popcorn watching. I used to read comics as a kid, so there’s that sense of nostalgia as well, so I can always find myself getting into one of those movies or shows.
How did you put your own spin on jokes about men vs. women?
For me, I talk about my experience with my ex-wife. That’s how I open the show. I talk about how I used to be married and how that affected me. We all think that we’re important, and we all rush to do these decisions in life, when in actuality, we’re not that special. I could’ve used more thinking and taking time about my decisions to better my life.
Taking it further, you say we all think we’re the star of the movie, but we’re all actually the supporting characters in other people’s stories. Do you think anyone is the star of the movie?
I think in a way you have to be that way every now and then. Otherwise, sh– wouldn’t get done.
You have so much energy on stage. Do you have to really work on the pace and plan when you can slow down and take a breath?
Yeah, you can’t just go bam, bam, bam, bam, bam for an hour. I think it would get boring.
Well, you wouldn’t last.
Yeah, I would be dead by 30 minutes in. I just pick and choose the moments. I start off kind of ramping up. Then I get into a rhythm where I’m taking it there. Then I stop. After I talk about my own experiences, I take a break and I start reflecting on what I just said. Then you can take a little bit more of a break and talk about other people, their situations and how it affects all of us.
Where does the idea that a party is going to be awesome come from? We’ve all been to enough where people are just standing around.
The movies. That’s what I think it comes from, man. You see people on Instagram, you see people in the movies, you see people on the internet now, and you see them having a great time and you want to keep recreating that. But them having that time isn’t even them having that time. It’s all fake. So I think that we’re all chasing this idea that we’re the man on fire.
How many lame parties does it take for people to realize it’s not going to happen?
I think that the chase for some people, the reward of having that night, when you get to be 40, 45, 50, you don’t have a family and you’re still trying to chase it. You believe it’s out there, man. I don’t think it exists. Maybe it exists for kings and queens who can do whatever the hell they want, but none of us are that.
Who bought you the pants that fit?
It was a friend of mine a long time ago. Nobody that you would know.
Not a famous friend?
No, unfortunately it’s not that romantic.
How quickly did that become a bit?
Right when it happened, I knew it was funny. It’s just such a weird thing for a guy to buy another guy pants, because it’s a personal thing. I knew it was funny, I just didn’t know how to make it funny right away. A few weeks later, I started to talk about it on stage. It just kind of became funny to me.
Chris D’Elia: Man on Fire premieres Tuesday, June 27 on Netflix.