Doug Benson had planned a 4/20 set in Denver last year, but then postponed the gig to a 4/20 show in 2021, which was canceled as the pandemic continued. Although he hopes to finally perform here live on 4/20/2022, in the meantime Benson has jumped online, hosting two podcasts as well as the upcoming Doug Benson's Comedy Sesh, an evening of standup, game shows and an after-hours session on April 20 with RushTix. We caught up with the pot-loving comedian to chat about the state of online performances during the pandemic and how 4/20 impacts comedy.
Westword: How do you think comedy is suited for virtual shows compared to other live performances? You're already doing it in a similar form via podcasting, and the concept of doing standup to a streaming audience sounds easy enough logistically — but audience engagement is important for a lot of standup comedians.
Doug Benson: Comedy is a good fit for a virtual show because you can tell jokes from anywhere. But to me, the best thing about it is that people can watch from anywhere. Normally when I do a show, it's in one club, in one city, and that's the only place to see it. I can only play so many clubs and towns, so there are lots of places where people could never see me live. And don't worry, hecklers: You can make comments that the comedian can see. Of course, just like in a comedy club, hecklers can get thrown out. You don't have to be a big dude to get a job as a bouncer at a virtual club.
On the other hand, I imagine virtual shows also enable more cannabis-centric performances...or is that usually easy to incorporate on stage at live shows?
I've only smoked on stage a few times, in places like Canada and Amsterdam. The only thing I remember about those shows was that I had a good time! So, yeah, it's nice to be able to smoke bowls while I do my show. People would be disappointed if I didn't!
Has the appetite for virtual shows changed over the past year since the pandemic began? Is 4/20 usually a bump on the calendar for live comedy?
Up until last year, I had done a standup show or a podcast taping on 4/20 every year. I tried to move it around so that different cities got a 4/20 show. Denver was supposed to be the 2020 show, and then the 2021 show, and now I'm waiting to see if we can do it there in 2022. But like I said, because of the pandemic, I'll just do a show from home. Maybe next year I can do a live show in Denver and a virtual show for the rest of the world. Big dreams!
Speaking of 4/20: It's no surprise that you have something special planned for it. What games or sketches are you excited for audiences to check out?
I've done a few shows with Rushtix called Doug Benson's Comedy Sesh, so it seemed a perfect fit for my 4/20 show this year. There will be guest comedians who will do sets and also join me for some games from my podcast, Doug Loves Movies. And [for] the games and the jokes, we hang out for several hours of tokes. I don't know how long this show is going to be, but the last one was over four hours!
Has 4/20 developed the same relationship with you that Christmas Day has with NBA players, where you're always expected to perform on our beloved holiday?
I love to perform and I love to get high. It's a win-win!
Bonus question: Was Best Week Ever before its time? A lot of its elements are popular in today's pop culture.
I loved doing it at the time, but now it would mostly be talking about the RHU (Real Housewives Universe), which would not be fun.