Josh Androsky on Spongebob Squarepants and the Fine Art of Trolling
Josh Androsky headlines at the Denver Improv on October 12.
Josh Androsky is a writer, standup comedian and karaoke enthusiast who hails from Los Angeles. After a precocious career in television that brought him into contact with human-rights-violating despots, Androsky began pursuing comedy, eventually running his own regular shows and becoming a festival favorite around the country. A viral video wherein a psilocybin-addled Androsky enthusiastically competes on The Price Is Right while maintaining the premise that he is a Skateboard Rabbi encapsulates his commitment to pulling off absurd spectacles with a showman's panache. A Vice contributor and staff writer for Spongebob Squarepants, Androsky has appeared on Flophouse, Adam Ruins Everything and Comedy Central's Trolling for Greatness. After performing at this year's High Plains Comedy Festival and appearing in the Denver episode of Jonah Ray's Hidden America, Androsky has generated enough goodwill in the Mile High City that he's set up a run of local shows that kicks off tomorrow night with a headlining engagement at the Denver Improv, presented by Fort Comedy.
Westword caught up with Androsky to discuss elevating trolling into a philanthropic art form and landing a writing job by being a "memorable idiot."
Westword: You're a staff writer for Spongebob Squarepants, right? How did that come together?
Androsky: I wrote on Spongebob last season. It was insane. This is how I got the job — and anyone who is planning on moving to L.A. to write for TV, pay attention: This is how you get jobs. I moved next door to a guy who looked a lot like the Big Lebowski. I'd walk past his house and see him smoking cigarettes on his porch for years, until finally one day I decided to just walk up and say hello. We ended up talking and laughing, and I invited him over to MY porch. He and his wife sat on the porc, and we got pretty tuned up. I lamented that my front yard was nowhere near big enough to put in a bounce house, but his yard had ample room. He told me that I could absolutely put a bounce house in his yard, presumably meaning at some later date. I then proceeded to get blackout drunk. I awoke the next morning at 6 a.m. to pounding at my door. It was a bounce-house corporation. They produced an invoice for the order I had placed in the wee hours, making it a point to show that in the "special instructions" section I'd written "FOR GOD'S SAKE GET HERE AS SOON AS YOU CAN." I sheepishly marched over to my neighbor's house, where, luckily, he was awake. I explained my predicament, and he allowed me to put up the bounce house in his yard, so long as he could call me King Idiot for the rest of time. Anyway, a few months later he hired me to write on Spongebob Squarepants. The lesson: Be a memorable idiot.
You've turned trolling into something of an art form, using the medium of tweet-based mockery for tangible activism. What makes someone a good target for trolling?
You should always ask yourself a few questions before trolling anyone. Are they powerful? Are they actually hurting people? Are they profiting off of their shitty personality? Are they going after people worse off than themselves? If you can answer yes to more than one of these questions, then you should probably go after them. I'm a huge fan of going after self-important people in the press. Guys like Matt Yglesias at Vox. There's this insular bubble in the NYC/D.C. elitist press, people who care more about the racial diversity in Hamilton than supporting Black Lives Matter. This election has brought out a lot of hypocrisy from both sides, and while it's always fun to go after shitty conservatives, it's more thrilling to go after these smarmy centrists. Do not be a smarmy centrist. I'm paraphrasing MLK, but he said the great stumbling block in the march toward justice isn't the KKK, it's the white moderate. All of us white people should be looking in the mirror every day, checking ourselves to make sure we are not these white moderates. Fuck white moderates.
You'd worked in television already before you started doing standup. What were some the early things you worked on, and what led you to comedy?
Oh, God, I worked on some of the most insane shows ever, and I truly mean that without any exaggeration. If you make it to one of my shows, you'll hear all about the time I was producing a beauty pageant for married ladies, and because Putin thought he could use our crew for his own propaganda, I ended up in war-torn Chechnya, where I had lunch with one of the worst human-rights violators in the world. Again, I cannot stress enough that we were only supposed to be there for a fucking beauty pageant.
Are you still contributing to Vice?
I am still contributing to Vice! I just did a Q&A with Jeff Ross about his roast of the Boston Police Department. It was a really great conversation. Also, a little while ago I wrote an article I'm really proud of, where I spoke to the greatest living comedy historian, Kliph Nesteroff, to prove a point about how all this worrying about PC police is bullshit, since comics used to get citizens arrested at gigs for going blue. Citizens arrested!
You've probably told this story a bunch of times, but what was going on behind the scenes when you appeared as the "Skateboard Rabbi" on a clip from The Price Is Right?
If you wanna hear about the time I did mushrooms at The Price Is Right, take a listen to my This American Life episode, or come on out to one of the shows! There's no way I have enough room to write it out here. That story is like twenty minutes of Technicolor.
Do you have any projects on the horizon that you'd like to mention before we wrap up?
Right now I'm working on a lot of stuff I can't really talk about; however, you can follow me on Twitter, and also watch this sketch by my friend Joe McAdam. It's the funniest thing I've seen all year
Josh Androsky starts a run at the Denver Improv on Wednesday, October 12. Doors open at 6:30 for the 7:30 p.m. show. Admission is $9; tickets are available from the Denver Improv events page.
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