Lucky '13: Comedian and Fine Gentleman Sam Tallent
This past year has been tough for many people, and we're eager to kiss 2012 goodbye. In hopes that 2013 will turn out to be much luckier for many, we invited some of the town's cultural tastemakers -- entrepreneurs and entertainers we're lucky to have in Denver -- to answer a trio of questions. We excerpted quotes from these Q&A's in the New Year's Guide inserted in the December 13 issue of Westword, but we'll be featuring the complete interviews in a series of posts through the end of the year. Up next: Sam Tallent.
A founder of the Fine Gentleman's Club, Sam Tallent has had a busy year. He's toured, released three comedy albums and put on Too Much Funstival, as well as helping create and grow the thriving Denver comedy community. Tallent can be found hosting open-mic nights Mondays at the Lion's Lair, Tuesdays at the Squire Lounge, and Wednesdays at the Fine Gentleman's Club's Too Much Fun at Deer Pile; he also plays drums in the band Red Vs. Black. We recently spoke with the always funny and kind Tallent about cooking, a teenage run-in with the cops, and how hard it is to be a comedian when you're happy.
Westword: Tell us about a time that you got lucky.
One time when I was eighteen, I broke into -- well, allegedly myself and three friends broke into the San Diego Zoo. Not for any nefarious purposes, just to try and get in there for free, because it was wicked expensive. So we kicked down a fence and got in there, and we're trolling around and we totally got arrested by zoo security, and they were, like, walking us through the zoo, and there were all these Hells Angels there with their families. It was like Hells Angels zoo day, and they were all giving us the thumbs-up as we were in handcuffs and stuff and giving us the salute, like, "Yeah, young brother." So we were locked up, and when the real cop came, he gave us a stern warning and told us we were gonna have to come back to San Diego to go to court for breaking and entering into a public institution. But that cop filled out the incorrect paperwork, and now I can go to the zoo whenever I want to. He blew it, and I'm good to go. The reverse happened in Massachusetts, where I got pulled over for driving incorrectly and they definitely busted me there. So I can't go to Massachusetts right now, but I can go to San Diego, which is a lovely place.
What's your resolution for 2013?
I quit smoking and drinking this year, so I'm definitely not going to smoke cigarettes anymore. That's a big thing. I don't know; I just have more goals and stuff. I'm gonna tour behind the album a whole bunch, and I want to cook a lot more. That's a big resolution as well -- cook more. Try not to smoke weed before noon, and put out two more albums, travel behind this album, that type of nonsense. But definitely the weed and the cooking. I love to cook, and I'm good at it, dammit. You heard it here first.
What do you like to cook?
I made a ham right before Thanksgiving with collard greens and smashed root vegetables. You know, rustic, yet simple and elegant. I don't know. I used to ditch class a lot in high school and smoke weed and watch the Food Network, so I kind of have a loose handle on how to put stuff together. I'm gonna make a cassoulet this week. That's a ham and white bean soup. I'm pretty pumped. I don't have a lot to do, Robin. I sit around all day and just pretty much get stoned and wait to do comedy. So I'm gonna start cooking long and slow meals from now on.
That sounds great. You're living the life.
Yeah, I really don't have much to complain about, to tell you the truth. I'm less funny now that I'm happy. I used to be grumpy, but now I'm super happy and tranquil so I'm probably not as funny as I was.
How does being happy affect your comedy?
I don't know, dude, it's weird. Because usually I'm good at just ranting, but I have nothing to complain about now. No one wants to hear about, like, how adorable my girlfriend and I are or how well we get along and never fight. That's not gripping material. So it's driven me into a much more absurd and in-the-moment type comedy where I'm just being very silly. Because I never really talked about anything with any worth, but now I have zero substance pretty much. It's all funny faces and silly noises. You know, like in music when you're bummed out it's easy to write songs, but when you're not bummed out it's like, I'm happy, I have this person in my life, I'm eating every day. What's the deal? My parents are supportive. I have nothing to be angry about.
You'll have to find something to be angry about.
I will. It was politics, but then I gave up on that. I'm currently most angry about the lack of a good chopping knife in my life. I don't have any good knives for cooking.
What are you doing on New Year's Eve?
I'm not working. I've worked the last three or four years. Standups always work for New Year's; it's just part of the institution. But under guidance or duress, whatever you want to call it, from my girlfriend, I'm taking this year off. I'm going to Michigan, I'm meeting her parents for Christmas, and then we're spending New Year's in a cabin somewhere on a lake up there. They have many lakes. We're pretty much just going to be intimate and be comfortable and snuggle. New Year's Eve I don't like; I'm not a big party-party-get-wasted guy anymore. I used to love to rage, but now that I spend all my time in bars, I just don't want to hang out with bar people as much. So I'm going to spend it probably on drugs overlooking water, hopefully with my head in my girlfriend's lap. I'm really looking forward to New Year's Day, because they're releasing all the Arrested Developments, so I think we're going to spend our entire day in bed under the influence of narcotics watching Arrested Development. It's gonna be very simple. I used to want to go out and party and have all the fun, but I've gotten so old in my years now. and I don't like the hubbub. I'm going for solitude, tranquility. It'll be nice.
What are you looking forward to in 2013?
The continued rise and dominance of the Denver comedy scene. Denver comedy is really really great, and I feel like we're on the cusp of something right now what with those great Grawlix guys just got that deal with Amazon, and my crew the Fine Gentleman's Club, we're touring, we're putting out our record. There's so many funny guys in town like Jordan Doll and Nate Balding and Christie Buchele, keeping us all honest and keeping us all relevant and making us be funnier. I'm just looking forward to see whatever the hell we're gonna put together next year, because the last two years -- it's been very community-driven, it's like old school Operation Ivy punk-rock lyrics. And I'm just pumped to see what we're gonna come up with. We've all got each other's backs and everyone's so great. It's a big love fest, is what it is. And I wanna see what we do next year.
I'm also gonna tour the hell outta myself and go to New York and go to San Francisco and just try and make continued progress towards eventual club standup comedy. But I'm just glad about Denver and what we're gonna be up to.
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