After more than 30 years as a comic, Brad Upton is an overnight sensation
Brad Upton, a 62-year-old comedian based out of the Seattle area has been entertaining people in comedy clubs and cruise ships all over the world for more than three decades with his insights on life, being married for a long time, honey-do lists, technology and more, but it was his video on millennials that went viral and has hit more than 50 million views on Dry Bar Comedy on Facebook.
Brad Upton was born and raised in the Tri-Area in Washington and originally served as a fourth-grade school teacher before following his true passion of being a stand-up comedian. His wife of 31 years and two, now grown kids have always been supportive of him living his dream.
Wait. Phones used to be on the wall?
Posted by Dry Bar Comedy on Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Brad Upton spoke with Michelle Tompkins for TheCelebrityCafe.com about his origins, his supportive family, his thoughts on explicit comedy, who are his comedic influences, who are some comedians that we should be watching, his part in an independent film with a very funny name, his dreams of getting a comedy special and more.
Michelle Tompkins: Well, I want to tell you that I'm so happy that I discovered you. I was in a bad mood because I wasn't able to find very many comedians that I liked right now and always like to interview comedians.
Brad Upton: Oh, good.
Michelle Tompkins: And I'm serious. I'm trying to find some new voices in comedy or even old voices in comedy that I haven't listened to yet. But I'm just put off by the vulgarity. Some of it is just way too much.
Brad Upton: Right, exactly.
Michelle Tompkins: And I like a good dirty joke but the problem is most of these jokes aren't good. They're just dirty.
Brad Upton: Right, exactly. I'm the same way. There are some comics that are dirty that make me laugh hard. And some though, I'm just like you're just dirty because you're dirty but you don't have to be. Right.
Michelle Tompkins: It really is. Richard Pryor was delightfully filthy—better than almost everybody else [laughter].
Brad Upton: Right, exactly. Do you ever watch Robert Schimmel at all?
Michelle Tompkins: I have. Yes.
Brad Upton: He's the same way. He's filthy and he's hysterical [laughter].
Brad Upton talks about his beginnings as a comic
Michelle Tompkins: Now, where are you originally from?
Brad Upton: I was born and raised in Richland, Washington which is in the Tri-Cities, in the eastern Washington state but I've been in Seattle my whole comedy career from 1986 on.
Michelle Tompkins: And tell me a little bit about your childhood.
Brad Upton: I grew up there, the Tri-Cites, and middle child of three kids. Went off to college. I was a track guy in college. I was a hurdler. And then I went off to college, did track. I was starting to get the comedy bug. I kind of wanted to do it but that was the late '70s and there really wasn't anywhere to do it. And then started teaching fourth grade in Pasco, Washington which is the Tri-Cities where I grew up. That was one of the three cities. And eventually, I went, ‘I want to try this comedy thing. I really want to try it.’ So I gave it a shot and I've been doing it ever since.
Michelle Tompkins: Now were you still teaching for a while when you were moving into comedy or did you just make the leap?
Brad Upton: There was a two-year overlap. I did my very first open mic in September of '84 and then for a couple of years there I did as much—but I was living in Pasco, Washington. There was nowhere to get on stage. If I wanted to get on stage, I had to drive 200 miles to Seattle or 150 to Spokane. I did it once a week and then I got to the point where I thought, ‘I think I'm getting good enough so that I can quit.’ So I worked with a couple of guys that were doing it full-time and I thought, ‘Well if they're doing it full-time— I don't think they're better than me. I'm going to take a year's leave of absence from the school district.’ And the school district wouldn't give me a leave of absence so I just quit. So that was two years in. But yes, there were two years where I overlapped where I was still teaching and doing stand-up.
Michelle Tompkins: Now, was your family supportive of you making the move to comedy?
Brad Upton: My dad was all for it and my mom was telling me, ‘I don't know. You got good benefits teaching school. You sure you want to give those up?’ And I'm like, ‘Yes. I do.’ And my fiancé who is now my wife, she was like, ‘Yeah, give it a shot.’ And my plan was from the very beginning— well, if this doesn't work, I can always go back and teach school.
Michelle Tompkins: I'm glad that it worked out.
Brad Upton: Yeah, yeah, me too.
Michelle Tompkins: So how long have you been a comedian now?
Brad Upton: Full-time for 32 years.
Brad Upton talks about comedic influences
Michelle Tompkins: Wow. Now how would you describe your comedic point of view?
Brad Upton: I don't know if I have a strong one even now. I just like writing things, observational things. I have that big chunk of material that got popular on the internet—was me complaining about the Millenials and then the 20-somethings. I never use the word millennials and that whole bit. I just say 20-somethings. And then I have all that stuff, which you didn't see all of it in the other video where I'm talking about being married forever and having my kids. So that's the biggest chunk of material that kind of has a theme to it. But otherwise, it's a lot of joke writing, I think.
Michelle Tompkins: Now, where do you go to get your news?
Brad Upton: I still get a newspaper every day, a traditional paper newspaper laying in my driveway. I read that in the morning. And then after I read that, I get online and start flipping through like everybody else does now.
Michelle Tompkins: And who are some of your comedic influences?
Brad Upton: Well, the very first person I ever saw was George Carlin. That was the first comedian I ever saw live. And I've told people, I think sitting in the audience before that show— I was probably 15 years old and sitting there, and I remember just being in awe of the fact that there was nothing on stage but a microphone and a stool and a glass of water. And I just thought, ‘This guy is going to come out here and entertain this entire theater with nothing but that microphone.’ And it just really intrigued - you know what I mean - as I was sitting there before the show. And it just intrigued me that that's what he was going to do. And maybe that's when it started. I was about 15 years old, but I just thought that was so cool that he was going to do with nothing but a microphone.
Michelle Tompkins: He was always great. I miss him.
Brad Upton: Oh, absolutely. And then I got to meet him a couple of years— I met him a couple of times in Las Vegas. And then that was— when I first saw him when I was 15 years— and then fast forward probably another 15 years. So I was in the finals of the Seattle comedy competition, and it was held at the Paramount Theater in Seattle, which was where I had seen George Carlin as a 15-year-old. And now I'm sitting there. Let's see, I must have been 31 years old. And I went back out on stage and I performed in the exact spot where I had seen George Carlin perform. And for me, even today, that was one of my coolest moments — I'm right here doing what George was doing in the exact same spot — it was really a cool moment for me.
Michelle Tompkins: Oh, I bet it would be. Now, who are some comedians that you would recommend that people check out now?
Brad Upton: Well, you know what? It's interesting. All these people that have discovered me and they found me, and I thought, ‘God.’ I always told people there's like 150 comics in this country that have been doing it forever. They're really good. They work all the time. They don't necessarily work in LA— they don't live in LA or New York, but they're great comics. They're great comics. They just haven't had exposure. And that's what happened with these videos of me, is all of a sudden people discovered me, and I thought, ‘Well, I've been around forever.’ But to answer your question: Dwight Slade out of Portland, Oregon, Troy Thirdgill, Kermet Apio, David Crow, Louis Johnson out of Denver, Willie Farrell out of Des Moines, Iowa, Phil Palisoul out of Denver, Mark Cordes out of Phoenix, Arizona. Those are all people— guys that are great comics. They're great. They've been doing it forever.
Michelle Tompkins: Well, Brad have you made any comedy specials yet?
Brad Upton: I have not, other than that Dry Bar thing, that online thing.
Michelle Tompkins: Well, I hope that one gets you an hour of your own because your videos are very good.
Brad Upton: I do, too. I have heard from nobody big in the business. But I would think that all those views would mean something. I hope so.
Michelle Tompkins: I would think so. Fingers-crossed for you on that.
Brad Upton: Because I think my hour is better— that Dry Bar was very clean. It's squeaky clean. That's the way it's supposed to be. And if you saw me in the nightclub, if you saw me in the comedy club, my act is very clean. But it's not as squeaky clean as that thing I did on Dry Bar.
Michelle Tompkins: It's more like a PG-13 kind of thing, then?
Brad Upton: Yeah, exactly. And I think it's a better version of my act. Even if you don't like things that are dirty, the couple of things that are in my act, you'd go, ‘Oh, that's okay.’ I just didn't include them.
Michelle Tompkins: No, I think it's harder to be clean as a comedian than it is to be a dirty one.
Brad Upton: Oh, absolutely.
Michelle Tompkins: But we've kicked this conversation off with the fact that some of these comedians now, I'm not understanding their bit. I've been watching the Netflix specials and the series and the HBO things. And I've always been a fan of comedy. But most of the comedians start swearing at you the moment—they swear at their audience the moment they say hello.
Brad Upton: Right, exactly. No.
Michelle Tompkins: That doesn't make me feel warm and fuzzy, do you?
Brad Upton: No, exactly. I'm the same way. Just to use it just to use it doesn't make any sense. I can say one or two curse words in an hour for comedic effect and get a huge laugh just because of the fact that I used a curse word, kind of. You know what I mean?
Michelle Tompkins: Mm-hmm.
Brad Upton: Like if I'm doing a punchline where I'm mad, where I'm angry in the joke, and I cuss like that, it's funnier at that point because I actually cussed. Because people feel like, ‘Oh, he really cussed so he must have really meant it.’ But if you only use it once or twice— I don't drop the F-bomb at all. But I could say shit once in a show - you know what I mean - and it just gets a huge laugh. And then it's content, too. It's a lot of content. Some comics think they're not dirty if they don't cuss. I go, ‘Well, the whole thing's about jerking off and smoking weed. I mean, sure you didn't curse, but the content was filthy [laughter].’ So they don't understand that either sometimes.
Brad Upton on political correctness and comedy
Michelle Tompkins: Well, no, I agree with you on that as well. Well, one of the bits that I saw you talked about murdering your wife [laughter].
Brad Upton: Yeah.
A sure fire way to get your kids to stop listening to bad music.
Posted by Dry Bar Comedy on Tuesday, June 26, 2018
Michelle Tompkins: And the audience just kind of gives you the PC hiss. And you're like, ‘It's a joke, people.’
Brad Upton: Yeah, yeah. No. I always do that joke. And it sucks the audience in big-time, because they take it hook, line, and sinker [laughter]. You can feel the audience go, ‘Oh.’ Because up to that point—I usually do it about 20 minutes into my show. And I've mentioned my kids, and I'm wearing a ring. So they know that I'm— they've assumed that I'm married. I haven't really talked about it, right, at that point. And then I say— I kind of slow it down and I go, ‘I'll tell you a little bit about myself. I'm recently a widower.’ And you can feel the audience go, ‘Oh.’ They literally say that sometimes. And then when I go, ‘if everything went as planned,’ they're like pissed that I tricked them [laughter]. And that's why at the end of that joke I go ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. I just laugh at them like, ‘I gotcha,’ so.
Michelle Tompkins: No, it was fabulous.
Brad Upton: Yeah. And then I do all the marriage stuff. Yeah. But I definitely suck in the audience and go with some misdirection on that joke.
Michelle Tompkins: Well, my dad just recently made a joke at my mother's expense that was very much like your joke that I think is really funny. He said his friend asked how my mom's doing. He said, ‘Oh, not well at all. She can't even remember my name she just calls me asshole.’
Brad Upton: Yeah, exactly [laughter].
Michelle Tompkins: And the person was like, ‘Oh my God.’ Really? Come on [laughter]. It's a joke, people.
Brad Upton: Yeah, it's a joke. It's a joke. That's right.
Michelle Tompkins: Do you think political correctness is killing comedy?
Brad Upton: In some ways, yeah, a little bit. You're just afraid of anything. If you mention any kind of a touchy subject, you can feel the audience get tight before they ever hear the punch line. Do you know what I mean? I try to joke— I'll give you an example. I tried a joke for a while where my nephew married into this big Mexican family. And several of his uncles— he has one uncle that's Uncle Leo who has down syndrome, very high functioning down syndrome. So we're at the wedding reception and I'm standing there with my new uncles-in-law, these Mexican guys, and one of them's Leo. And he's there in front of his brothers, right? And we all have a beer in our hand and Leo— and I know he set me up. He set me up as big as could be. And he starts to speak to me in Spanish and I said, ‘I'm sorry, Leo. I don't speak Spanish.’ And he looked at me and went, ‘Pft,’ like I was retarded. And it was the funniest thing I have ever seen and his brothers were dying laughing [laughter] right because he'd pulled this joke on me—
Michelle Tompkins: It was a good one.
Brad Upton: And it was a great joke. And I've tried to explain it on stage and people— I go, ‘No. The guy with down syndrome made fun of me because I was dumb. He did it.’ It was so beautiful. He had to have been so smart and his timing was so great I'm the fool in the joke. But people just hear down syndrome and they just, ‘Oh, no, he's making—’ no, I'm not making fun of them. I'm making fun of me.
A funny misunderstanding of a popular initialism
Michelle Tompkins: But also the thing is is that when you include people in jokes, it makes the world a little bit smaller of place.
Brad Upton: Right, right. I spend a lot of time on the cruise ships and I'm telling you as a joke. I go, ‘Well, you know when you're on the ship—have you ever been on a cruise ship?
Michelle Tompkins: Yep.
Brad Upton: There's always a list of activities for the day, right? So the very time I was ever on a ship like 17 years ago probably in— no more than that— the year 2000, they said LGBT gathering. I said, ‘I didn't know what it meant 17 years ago. I just knew they met in a different bar every night.’ And I thought, ‘Man, I probably belong to that group.’ LGBT probably stands for let's get blasted together. And I said, ‘So I started going.’ And I go, ‘I don't belong to the group but I made a lot of friends.’ And the joke killed and it's great and I have tons of LGBT people come up and say, ‘Oh my god, that joke was so funny.’ They go, ‘But when you first say LBGT, we all go oh, what's he going say.’ And after I deliver the punch line and they go, ‘Oh my god, I almost spit my drink out. It's the best joke I've ever heard in my life.’ But even the LGBTs go, ‘Oh shit. What's he going to say?’ And then I go, ‘I probably belong to that— let's get blasted together. And then they put a Q on it and then it's probably for quickly so I belong to that group [laughter].’ And it's a great joke but I have to say LBGT in the joke and the LGBT love the joke.
Michelle Tompkins: They do but as soon as you first say it you could feel the tension in the room go up.
Brad Upton: Right, exactly and then the audience— yeah, you can feel the audience like, ‘Oh, I'm not sure if we can laugh at this.’
Michelle Tompkins: And then they do.
Brad Upton: Yep, exactly. But yes, so political correctness can kill it and you know I Seattle and I'm only 100 miles from Vancouver. And I go up and work in Canada once in a while. And as soon as you cross the border and you get into a comedy club the vibe's different. I've seen comics of all ethnicities, including white guys, making fun of Indians or Asians and if it's a funny joke about the culture everybody laughs and nobody gets upset about it. And I've sat there and I've watched a couple of comics making fun of their Asians or the Indians in the neighborhood and I've thought, ‘You couldn't do that in the U.S.’ But it's a great joke. Nobody gets hurt. And the Asians are laughing, and the Indians are laughing, and the white people are laughing. And it's just a difference— it's a cultural difference. And as soon as you cross the border, it's there. The Canadians aren't as uptight about it.
Michelle Tompkins: I'm happy to hear that because— a comedian that I really like, and I spoke to a couple years ago, is Brad Williams and his brand of comedy is a lot of dwarf jokes but also social commentary.
Brad Upton: Right.
Michelle Tompkins: In one of his jokes in one of his last shows was the people that bother him the most are the people who get offended on behalf of someone else.
Brad Upton: Exactly.
Michelle Tompkins: And in comedy, everyone likes to be included. And then the killjoys actually ruin things further by explaining the joke in the way of, ‘You're too stupid to understand that they're making fun of you.’
Brad Upton: Right. Right, right, right.
Michelle Tompkins: And then they're saying, ‘Dude, it's a joke. I get it perfectly [laughter].’
Brad Upton: Right. No, that's right. People that get offended on other people's behalf. I go, ‘Did that offend you?’ ‘Well, no but—’ ‘Well, then it's not offensive if it didn't offend you. You don't have to be offended for somebody else.’ I agree.
Michelle Tompkins: Now, I know your website is a good place for people to see your booking dates but how much time do you spend on the road?
Brad Upton: At the end of the year, I always count. I literally count at the end of the year how many days did I sleep in my own bed and how many days was I away. And I'm home two-thirds of the year. Hopefully now with these videos out, I might go take a few more out of town. This year also was interesting in 2018 was the first year in 32 full-time years that I conscientiously took less bookings this year just because I wanted more time to stay at home and sit around. My wife and I are empty nesters. I wanted some empty weekends to go do stuff and I literally took less work this year and then all of a sudden these videos come out and I'm getting offered more work than I've had offered in a long time [laughter].
Michelle Tompkins: Well, I've got to say, you've got to strike while the irons hot on this one.
Brad Upton: Exactly my plan. That's my thoughts as well. Well, if I'm going to get this much heat I might as well take advantage of it.
Michelle Tompkins: But if you go to a couple of cool places you can drag your wife along with you and you can have a couple trips there.
Brad Upton: Exactly.
Michelle Tompkins: Now tell me about the photos in your gallery on your website. There are a couple that are a little bit interesting.
Brad Upton: Oh, which ones?
Michelle Tompkins: Military ones [laughter] and—
Brad Upton: Oh, the ones when I'm doing the sorority squat?
Michelle Tompkins: Yeah.
Brad Upton: Oh yeah. They make me laugh. I think they're stupid. When you're doing those photos they're like, ‘Do something.’ and I don't know what I'm supposed to do so I do these stupid— the sorority squat is what I call the one— you know which one I'm talking about. And then like I'm leaning up against the wall like a hot model or something and it's just still stupid to me [laughter].
Michelle Tompkins: What about the ones of you in the military uniform? Are you doing a paintball thing?
Brad Upton: No, no that was— I did an independent movie and in that movie, I play a guy, a kind of a crazy PTSD guy, and in this scene in the movie where he finally snaps there's a flashback where he had to kill a guy. And it's just a quick flashback scene where he's sneaking up on this guy and he has to shoot these people. So they put me off in that garb for that one scene, that quick scene, but that's all that was.
Michelle Tompkins: What's the name of that movie?
Brad Upton: Oh, I knew you were going to ask. It's an independent film. It's called, I'm Not Dick Licker. And it's about a high school kid whose name is Richard. It's a high school kid, his name's Richard. I can't remember. His mom's going to remarry a guy with the last name of Licker and he realizes, ‘All the kids in the high school are going to call me Dick Licker.’ And so, this kid and his best friend are going to try and break up this impending marriage. And I'm just the friend of Mr. Licker. I'm his buddy that goes to try and get after these kids that are trying to break up the marriage. It's really a funny film. It's just an independent film. You can probably find it on Indie Films or something like that. It's really pretty funny. It's a high school sophomoric kind of film, but it's pretty funny.
Michelle Tompkins: All right. The concept is funny so I'll see if I can find it.
Brad Upton: I'm sure I'm Not Dick Licker probably ran through the— I don't know how well it did. Yeah. And if you go to YouTube and Google, ‘Dick Licker,’ you're going to find a whole lot of different stuff [laughter]. My Name Is Not Dick Licker, is what you have to look up to find that film.
Michelle Tompkins: Yeah. Thank you for that because that would be a very interesting Google search.
Brad Upton: Yeah, because if you put Dick Licker in YouTube, you're going to get all kinds of, yeah.
Michelle Tompkins: Now, is there anything you want to add about your family?
Brad Upton: My kids have been— I mean, to them this is normal. People always ask, ‘Is it weird your dad's a comic?’ Well, I've been a comic their entire lives so for them it's not odd. It's just normal for them. Dad leaves and comes home. But when they were growing up I was home more with my kids than most dads I think, even though I traveled quite often. When you're a comic, you're here in the morning when they wake up, and you get them ready for school and you walk them to the school bus. And when they come home you're at the school bus waiting for them. And then, you've got them all the rest of the day. So I had more face time with my kids growing up than a guy that leaves the house every morning at 7:00 a.m., and comes home at 7:00 p.m., and only sees them from 7:00 to 9:00 for two hours.
Michelle Tompkins: Well, I'm always sad when that happens, but tell me a little bit about your wife if you don't mind. She sounds like a good lady.
Brad Upton: Yeah. We went out for three years before— I mean, we were 24 and 21 when we met and we've been together ever since. And I was a school teacher for three years and coach of high school track for three years before I ever did an open mic. And then, I think she was probably thinking, ‘Well, if he wants to get this comedy thing out of his system, let's do that.’ We got married a year after I started doing stand up full time. She works full time, she does human resources. We've made this work very well. And you know what I think? The time apart is better probably because if you're around each other 24 hours a day for 31 years in a row, you're probably sick of each other. But I go out, I'm gone for a week, and now I'm back. And then I'm home for a couple of weeks, and then I'm gone for a couple of days, and I'm home for a while. So I think going back and forth is pretty good. And I think she enjoys her time, not a lot of it, but I think she enjoys being by herself sometimes too.
Michelle Tompkins: Well, now that you guys are both home together I think of a Mamie Eisenhower line I think it was, or one of the First Lady's, is that she agreed till death do us part but that didn't mean lunchtime because her husband had retired and he was always underfoot.
Brad Upton: Yeah. No, I believe that. We're having more fun I think now. She's trying to figure out a way to retire, it's the health care now that's keeping her working, which I'm sure is the case for a lot of people.
Michelle Tompkins: When you're not working, what do you like to do for fun?
Brad Upton: Well, you know during the springtime I coach high school track. Did you read that part of my website?
Michelle Tompkins: My next question was about your love of running.
Brad Upton: Well, I do yoga. I do yoga a lot. I go almost every day. I'll go tomorrow. I do a lot of that. I just went hiking. My daughter and I went hiking all the way up into the Alpine Lakes wilderness area a couple of days ago. I'm still a little sore from that. And then I coach high school track in the spring. I try and stick around— I try not to go out on the road in March, April, May, but I've been an opener for Johnny Mathis for 12 years so if Johnny wants me somewhere then I go. But, for the most part, during March, April, May, I try and stick around so that every afternoon I'm [inaudible] out there helping these high school kids.
Michelle Tompkins: Are you a coach for a school or for individuals?
Brad Upton: No, it's just for a school here in Seattle. It's in the Shoreline school district. I had a state champ this past spring, by the way.
Michelle Tompkins: Oh, congratulations. That's wonderful. Now, do you still run?
Brad Upton: Yeah, a little bit. During track season, I do a lot of the drills. I still demonstrate some of the drills. I do some of the hurdle drills.
Michelle Tompkins: Your hurdle video was pretty impressive, watching you do that.
Brad Upton: It was pretty good. I'm all man. I watched that video and I went, ‘You know what? My form's still pretty good [laughter].’ I was like, ‘God, that's still—’ It's not bad. That's why I put it in slow motion, to make sure you couldn't see it at normal speed because at normal speed you're like, ‘Oh, man, that guy's slow [laughter].’ So I really slowed it down to make sure you just saw that part of it. But, yeah, I still do that. I still do a lot of the drills. I'll demonstrate some of the stuff. It has to be a warm today before I'll hurdle, and the kids get a kick out of it. They're like, ‘Oh, [inaudible] going to hurdle.’ I'm like, ‘Yeah, darn right. Today's the day.’
Michelle Tompkins: I haven't seen any jokes about your students. Have you made any?
Brad Upton: I used to have a bunch. When I first started teaching - I mean, first started doing standup - most of my five minutes were about teaching school. And it was good material and it worked very well and it was well written, but I did it for enough years I just retired that material, basically. I used to have quite a bit of teaching material, but it's fallen behind. I hadn't taught school for 30-plus years so that material just got weaned out of the act eventually.
Michelle Tompkins: Oh, and then it turned into the 20-somethings, which is probably even more accurate.
Brad Upton: Right. Exactly. I should actually resurrect some of that old material. It's still good material. I'm going to have to write some new material. Besides writing some new material, I may resurrect some old material. It was good material. I just don't use it anymore.
Michelle Tompkins: Well, I find it very funny to see if someone is at a track meet and, instead of a baton, passes the phone.
Brad Upton: Yeah. There's a video on YouTube some high school girls that run a relay with their phone, and they hand it off [laughter]. It's on YouTube.
Michelle Tompkins: I'll have to see that.
Brad Upton: It's pretty funny, yeah.
Michelle Tompkins: Well, one of my favorite videos from last year is the Millenial Job Interview and that one you can find on YouTube too. I interviewed the actors in it and the entire team.
Brad Upton: Oh, yeah.
Brad Upton: Oh, I bet.
Michelle Tompkins: The comments, though, are what made me laugh the most. Some people are super pissed. Some people are like, ‘This happened to me. This is really not far off. You should see me.’ No, you're not so.
Brad Upton: When that video of mine went viral, I read the remarks about it because it went viral it went just crazy. And I read about the first twenty remarks and I went, ‘I can't do this. I just I can't do this to myself.’ But I've all sorted they were a whole bunch of millennials bitching about me, ‘Is the old man making fun of us?’ I'm like, ‘Oh my god. Did you even watch the video? Did you even watch the video?’ I really don't because I turned it around on myself and say I'm as bad as the kids are. And then the audience was mostly young anyway. So that chunk of material— and people are bitching about this old man. I go, ‘You missed this part number one where earlier in my set I make fun of old people. And then I make the audience like me.
Then I make fun of them and they think it's funny.’ So nobody gets hurt because I said, ‘You know what your best friend, whoever that is, can carry you a new one, as far as making fun of you and you'll take it from him because they're your best friend. Right?’ But if you just met somebody and they start making fun of you, well, kiss my ass. That's why when I make fun of the millennials, I make them like me first, and then about ten minutes in my act I make fun of them and they're laughing because they're like, ‘Oh, he's nice and we like him.’ If I open my show making fun of millennials, they'd probably sit there with their arms crossed across their chest and go, ‘Fuck you old man.’ You know what I mean?
Michelle Tompkins: Yes [laughter].
Brad Upton: But at that point they like me, they're like, ‘Oh yeah, it's probably— yeah, it's kind of true.’
Michelle Tompkins: Brad, do you think your age is a help or a hindrance?
Brad Upton: I don't know, I never think— I literally still think I'm the 30-year-old guy from 30 years ago. And then sometimes I'm like, ‘No, I'm not, am I?’ So I have to admit that I'm older. I think now it's probably a help, I think, as far as with the audience. Do it at any kind of television or anything it's not a help. Nobody's going to put me on TV now because I'm older. Those networks, late-night network people aren't going to put me on.
Michelle Tompkins: I wouldn't be so sure about that.
Brad Upton: I don't know. I've never done a late-night TV spot and they all like to say, ‘Making his late-night TV debut,’ and then a 62-year-old walks out. They're like, ‘What the hell is this all about?’ People, they all want to break a new 30-year-old comic. You know what I mean? That's what they like to do. And you can be a 62-year-old comic like Jerry Seinfeld is 62 years old but he's also been known as a big star for 30 plus years. If you've been a known comic for 35 years, they'll put you on but to break someone new I'd be very surprised if I got a late-night TV spot. I'd be very surprised.
Michelle Tompkins: Oh well, I'll still hope for you for it because of the viral video.
Brad Upton: Yeah me, too. I'd like one.
Michelle Tompkins: Well, I think you're one of the best. And I like comeback stories. And also I think there's something a little bit more elegant about a guy who's been working in the business for 30 years and now you finally are realizing what a gem he is.
Brad Upton: And you know what, it's been very rewarding for I've had several comics some guys that I know, that are very similar careers to mine, contact me and go, ‘Hey, it's really been— we're really happy that one of us got noticed. It gives all of us a hope.’ And I go, ‘Man, I hope we all get noticed.’ If I won the lottery, I would literally just produce one-hour specials of all these guys I told you about that I mentioned earlier. A lot of these comics that had been around for a long time, they're out there, they're gems, man. There are some really good comics that are out there so I'm going to get out every night in front of 100 people and they're great.
Michelle Tompkins: I think everyone needs to laugh, so.
Brad Upton: Laughter's good for you. It's infectious. It's healing.
Michelle Tompkins: Now, what are some movies and TV shows that you like?
Brad Upton: American Pickers [laughter]. I watch that, don't ask me why I got hooked on that. My wife and I have been watching I’m Dying Up Here on Showtime. I've tried several years, I've applied several years, to be on Survivor. I never hear a word from them.
Michelle Tompkins: Oh, that's a bummer.
Brad Upton: I know. I'd like to be the old guy that's still pretty fit and can still kick ass. That's what I'd like to be.
Michelle Tompkins: An old guy comic would be really good.
Brad Upton: Right. I've never heard back so I quit trying to apply to that.
Michelle Tompkins: That's a shame, though.
Brad Upton: Yeah. I don't watch much late night TV. I hardly ever watch any late night TV.
Michelle Tompkins: Now, where's somewhere you want to visit but haven't gone to yet?
Brad Upton: Oh, that's a good question because— well, Africa. You know, I would like to go to Africa. I had a teammate in college from Senegal and we ran together in college, became good friends, after college, never saw him ever again. And through the miracle of Facebook, I was able to find him— let's see, almost 40 years later, and we talked on the phone one time. I called him in Senegal. He answered the phone. I got his phone number through a person from a person in Dakar that traced down his phone number. And I called him and we talked for a long time. He invited me to come over and I go— my wife looked at Senegal and goes, ‘Nah, I don't think so,’ so I might make that trip by myself.
So I would like to go to Africa. I've been all over the world working on cruise ships. I've been very fortunate that way. I've gotten to see a good deal of the world. I've been to the Middle East. I've been to the Baltics. I've been to Asia. I went and performed last October for four nights in Karachi, Pakistan— had a blast. This video, apparently besides going viral here, got a lot of attention in India. I had a lot of people friend me in India. I had a guy a couple days ago on Facebook approach me and ask me if I'd be interested in coming over to India to do some shows. I go, ‘Sure, tell me more.’ But I haven't heard back.
Michelle Tompkins: Well, I hope more of that happens for you. This question is a little out of order. How old are your kids?
Brad Upton: My son is 24 and my daughter is 21.
Michelle Tompkins: But they're both out of the house and school?
Brad Upton: Yes. My son is the property manager of a 42 story, 100,000 square foot skyscraper in downtown Seattle. He is the property manager. And then my daughter is 21, just starting her senior year in college. And she wants to be a writer. She's a creative writing major.
Michelle Tompkins: Oh good. That's exciting. She must get that from you.
Brad Upton: She's very good. She's really good. Yeah. We're very much the artistic side of— the creators. We're very similar in that respect. And she's a really good writer. I know she's my own kid, but she's really talented.
Michelle Tompkins: Sure there is bias, but when you're a comedian and write good material, you know what's good and what isn't.
Brad Upton: Right. Exactly. I told my wife, even when she was in high school, I said, ‘This girl is a major talent. She's really good.’ I've written a couple of short stories and op-ed pieces and things over the years so I know I can write too. I enjoy writing. I don't do long things but I really enjoy it.
Michelle Tompkins: Are there any that I could find online?
Brad Upton: Let's see. If you go to this Seattle PI, let me think of what it would be called. That was a— Seattle PI.com, that was the newspaper. I wrote an op-ed piece for them. Actually, if you just go to Seattle Post Intelligencer and then if you type my name in, it'll bring you those articles that I've written. Just some op-ed pieces. They're a number of years old now but they should be there.
Michelle Tompkins: Was there any charity work or charities that you care about that you'd like to mention?
Brad Upton: Ah, yeah. You know what, and they changed the name— they just changed the name I was work— I did a lot of charity stuff for Gilda's Club and Gilda's Club changed their name to Cancer Support Community.
I did a lot of things for them and I'm always open when people approached me about doing certain things about doing some benefit stuff. Some of the jump out to me right away. My wife had cancer a number of years ago and that gave us a big, big scare and I got involved ever since.
Michelle Tompkins: I'm glad she's fine.
Brad Upton: Yeah. Yes. She had kidney cancer, was given a 50 percent chance to live. So it wasn't a good day. So the 50 percent, fortunately, she made it, lost a kidney but she's fine now. That's been 24-years ago.
Michelle Tompkins: How do you like fans to connect with you?
Brad Upton: Right now my Brad Upton fan page on Facebook is the best way. I'm trying to post. I really had ignored it pretty forever. I had one all along. I had three other fans on it, I never posted anything. I just didn't do anything with it. And in the last three-and-a-half weeks, I've gotten 8,300 more fans. So I'm being very conscientious [laughter] of being very good and posting things on there. Letting them know where I am, where— you know, people don't know if I'm answering it or somebody's answering it, I go, yeah, I answer this stuff. If you post something or write a message, I'll see it, I'll read it, I'll respond to it.
Michelle Tompkins: What are your social media handles?
Michelle Tompkins: Did someone steal your name on Twitter?
Brad Upton: They must have. I think it's a guy. In fact, I think it's an Australian guy. Lives in Tasmania, I think. I have about six Facebook friends that are Brad Upton. When Facebook— when I first got on, hit this list of Brad, I found all these other guys, I befriended them.
Michelle Tompkins: Good idea.
Brad Upton: Yeah, I got like six Brad Upton friends on Facebook.
Michelle Tompkins: Now, what's next for you?
Brad Upton: Well, you know what, it's funny. Somebody said, how's the change in your career from these videos, it just exploded. I go, well, I was a comedian and then all of a sudden these videos went crazy and I'm still a comedian. So I'm suddenly gotten real busy as far as I'm doing a— I'm doing some Sunday night door deals in clubs around the country that are coming up. I have one in San Jose and Appleton, Wisconsin and Dayton, Ohio. So I'm trying to get out while I can, while people remember who I am or what my face is. I try to get out and do as much work as I can. And the best way is to keep checking my schedule, where I'm going to be because I'm going to try and get everywhere. People are wanting me to go everywhere.
I've got so much stuff coming in. So I'm trying to do some bigger events in— bigger events for me but in smaller theaters. Live Nation. Live Nation has talked me about doing some dates. And I'm like, ‘I'm all over that. Let's do it.’
Michelle Tompkins: Now do you book yourself or do you have a booker?
Brad Upton: Yeah, I've always booked myself. I've never had a manager, never had an agent. I've done it all myself my entire career.
Michelle Tompkins: I'm going to give you a tip. I do think you need to reach out to the people at Netflix and say, ‘Give me a show.’
Brad Upton: I have what I think is the right contact email and I sent that email. I sent them that special from Dry Bar. I sent the whole thing and go, ‘Here. Here's my special. Here's what I can do. And if I could do another one, I'd be even better than this.’ And 70 million people looked at this one so it must be okay [laughter].
Michelle Tompkins: It certainly doesn't suck.
Brad Upton: Yeah, that's what I'm hoping. I hope they see it. I hope they read it. I hope they look at it.
Michelle Tompkins: No, I hope so too. And I hope you keep following up with them. There are a few Netflix series that have a blend of comedians and most of them weren’t as good as you. So I'm hoping for you.
Brad Upton: Well, I've watched several of the Netflix things and I think, ‘This is a good special but it's’— I'm trying not to sound cocky. I hate trying to brag on myself, but I watch some of the Netflix specials, and I think, ‘This person isn't better than me [laughter].’ You know what I mean? I don't want that to come out sounding arrogant, but maybe it does a little bit, and maybe it should be, but…
Michelle Tompkins: Well, no, maybe it should be is that I don't think all are better than you. I think very few are as good as you.
Brad Upton: Right. And again, it's just a case of getting the exposure, and it's— remember when the blue collar comedy guys blew up huge, and everybody was like, ‘Oh, these guys are great.’ I go, ‘They've been around for 20 years. They've all been around.’ I mean when Bill the Cable Guy and Ron White and all those guys blew up huge, I said, ‘They've been around. I've known about these guys for 20 years. They've been great comics. They just got exposure.’
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