Ripping Off My Grandmother with Scott Rogowsky

Scott Rogowsky
Photo credit: Phil Provencio

Each week in Give A Little Bit, we’re talking to funny people — comics, writers, cartoonists, senators — about the first time they got a laugh. This week, Scott Rogowsky gullible grandmas, mushrooms and reading books about ass eating on the subway.

Your first bit…

When I was a little kid I would write dumb little stories and illustrate them with stick figures and then sell them to my grandma for 75 cents – which I believe is $80,000 in today’s money? I remember her laughing – whether at the stories or my audacity to charge my own grandmother, I’ll never know.

I was definitely a class clown type in my early days, especially in Hebrew School. In 3rd grade when I ran around the classroom with a diaper on my head, to the delight of everyone except Morah Fisher. I got to know every square inch of the principal’s office that year.

Your writing process is…

When I first started out, my jokes were handcrafted in small batches from locally-sourced material in New York’s Hudson Valley. But I shifted operations overseas after the deadly E. coli outbreak in 2011, and now I buy punchlines in bulk from the Koreans.

In all honesty, my process is horrendous. Most jokes come to me in the shower or in between dreams. I find I write best when I’m with a bunch of friends in the Catskills for a bachelor party and we’re all on mushrooms. Granted, that’s happened only once, but it gave birth to the line: “We can put a man on the moon, but we can’t train bears to go down on our wives?” So I might try mushrooms again. That seems to work.

My influences are…

Allan Sherman, Weird Al Yankovic, Adam Sandler’s first two albums, The Far Side, The Simpsons, Seinfeld, SNL, Airplane, Naked Gun, Goosebumps, SimAnt, fake celebrity nudes and Steve Balboni.

That thing you did on the subway….

The only person who said anything was a Latino guy who saw me reading the Trump book and said “Man I fucking hate that guy. But I’d smash his daughter!” Certainly, the ass one and the penis one drew the best reactions. Just goes to show what it takes to get noticed in this cold, cold world.

How I keep it all together…

I did the Moleskine thing in my early days, before I realized I could buy 8 little spiral notebooks from CVS for the same price as one of those un-American, impossible-to-correctly-pronounce scam jobs. Now it’s easier to take notes in my phone. I still keep a pen and pad on my nightstand for those instances when ideas strike me in my sleep.

I wish I wrote…

It’s the bits or jokes that I would never think to write myself that I love the most — the Stella shorts, Tim & Eric, Kenny “K-Strass” Strasser. In terms of bits that I wish I wrote because I could have conceivably written them — John Mulaney’s Law & Order chunk comes to mind. He performed it on his very first late-night set (Conan, 2007). For someone who watched as much Law & Order as I did (and still do), I kick myself for not expertly dissecting it the way Mulaney did.

A new bit…

A couple years ago I wrote a one-act play based off a friend’s wedding in Israel. It was produced as part of an off-off-off-Broadway indie theatre festival. I acted in it along with two really funny UCB guys (Mike Antonucci & Yoni Lotan) and it was a thrilling experience. Since then I’ve been trying to expand the script into a feature-length film. I’ve never written a full 90 page script before, and I’ve been dragging my feet on this for a while now, but maybe putting this in print will light a fire under me to finish it? Scott, if you’re reading this in the future, you better be doing so from your gold-plated toilet made from your melted-down Oscars.

Scott Rogowsky has interviewed everyone from Jon Hamm to Big Ang to his 6th grade crush Hannah Geller as the host of his very own late-night talk show Running Late with Scott Rogowsky. He was born in Manhattan and now resides in Brooklyn, where you can catch him live each month at Union Hall or every Tuesday afternoon in the frozen food section of C-Town.

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