Marty DeRosa on Lucha Libre & Laughs, and Wrestling with Depression

Marty DeRosa headlines Lucha Libre & Laughs on Sunday, September 13.
Marty DeRosa headlines Lucha Libre & Laughs on Sunday, September 13.
Courtesy of Marty DeRosa

Marty DeRosa is a comedian, podcaster and wrestling super fan who lives in Los Angeles. DeRosa, who got started in Chicago, created the insightful podcast, Wrestling with Depression, where he interviews comedians, wrestlers and other artists about their struggles with mental illness. He also runs several shows with fan favorite wrestler Colt Cabana, including "Worst Promo Ever," and "$5 Wrestling," an underground DVD series featuring Mystery Science Theater 3000-style commentary on old matches, and circulated among their cult following. Headed to Denver this week, DeRosa has a full week of sets scheduled on some of the city's best local showcases, so podcast fans and novices alike have plenty of opportunities to catch his act while he's in town. Westword caught up with DeRosa to discuss the similarities between comedians and wrestlers, what he's learned by doing such interviews personal interviews on his podcast. 

Westword: You've got a whole week of shows lined up in Denver right? Where can people come see you perform?

Marty DeRosa: Yeah, Wednesday I'm on Too Much Fun at 10:30 p.m., Thursday is Cool Shit at 8 p.m., Saturday I've got Ratio Beerworks at 10 p.m. and Sunday is Lucha Libre & Laughs at 7 p.m.

I love Lucha Libre & Laughs. I assume the hybrid of wrestling and comedy is right in your wheelhouse. Had you heard of the show before this trip? Have you ever done anything like it?

I've heard nothing but awesome things about the show. We've talked about me coming out and doing the show for a while now so I'm very happy that it's finally happening. I've hosted Lucha Va Voom in Chicago. Me and Colt Cabana have done live comedy shows and other weird shows at Wrestlecon.

When did your collaboration with frequent LLL guest star Colt Cabana begin, and what has it yielded so far?

We've been collaborating for around five years now. We've done two web series called "Creative Has Nothing For You" & "Worst Promo Ever." We also do a live show that we've toured the country with. Also, every year at Wrestlecon we do a bunch of stuff. We've done running commentary for amazingly bad movies with wrestling ties like Suburban Commando, Body Slam & The Chaperone.

Marty DeRosa on Lucha Libre & Laughs, and Wrestling with Depression

What inspired the idea for your podcast, Wrestling with Depression? There's a well-documented history of troubled comedians and professional wrestlers, but has anything surprised you since you started doing these interviews?

I suffer from depression. It's been that way since I was a little kid. I started to notice that some of my fellow comedians & I would kind of check in at bars after shows and see how we were doing. Those talks were funny, sad and motivating. I finally got the idea to make it a podcast after reading the "wrestling with depression" in some article online. The lightbulb went off and I was ready to make it a real thing. I've always wanted it to be a podcast that shows people they are not alone and it's also a celebration of people doing awesome shit even though they battle mental illness.

Are there many similarities in lifestyle and temperament between comedians and wrestlers?

I think so. I have friends who are comedians and friends who are wrestlers and we can all sit down and talk about our professions and quickly you realize it's all the same. We are all working for the same things. We both want to be on TV. We both want people to pay money to see us. The struggles are similar and I think that builds the respect between the two worlds. If someone is a comedian or a wrestler, on any level of the success spectrum, I respect them for putting themselves out there.

If you had to recommend just one or two episodes to uninitiated listeners, which would you choose?

I did an interview with one of my best friends, Danny Kallas. Danny is an amazing comedian who has OCD. It's an amazing journey into the every day struggles of someone with that illness. I had a new found respect for anyone dealing with OCD. On a lighter episode, I talked to Kevin Steen (Now Kevin Owens of the WWE) about all wrestling. We talked about being wrestling. Kevin was an amazing guest because he really bridges the gap between fan and wrestler. He's an amazing talent but couldn't have been cooler. He is a great ambassador for wrestling.

You're a founding member of Comedians You Should Know, an esteemed Chicago standup showcase. What did you take away from that experience in terms of advice you'd offer comedians trying to start their own shows? Are you still involved with them in any way since you moved?

Starting your own show is something every comedian should do at some point in his or her comedy career. It makes you know what works and what doesn't. I love any show that is run properly. I love hearing guys like Todd Glass preach about what needs to happen for a show to be good. There is an art to running a great show and it's a bummer when you do a show or you're at a club that isn't doing it right. I've heard Denver has tons of great shows and I can't wait to see/do as many of them as possible. I'm still part of CYSK. We just started up a room in Los Angeles and the shows in Chicago have never been better. It's awesome to build something up that people come to week after week knowing they will get a great show.

Anything else you want to mention before we wrap up?

Support independent comedy and independent pro wrestling. Don't wait until someone becomes a big tv or movie star before you get off your couch to see them. Also, if you're depressed you and need some help head over to NAMI.org and they will help you get the ball rolling. 

DeRosa headlines Lucha Libre & Laughs: Crashed! live at the Oriental Theater on September 13. Doors open at 6 p.m. for the 7 showtime. Admission costs $10 and tickets are available through the Oriental Theater website.

Follow Byron Graham on twitter @ByronFG for more mildly amusing sequences of words.

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