Comedian and actor Dave Coulier, known for his role as Uncle Joey on the popular ‘90s TV series “Full House” took over the Rat Wednesday night with a stand-up comedy show as part of his Cut It Out College Tour. The Miami Hurricane got a chance to sit down with the comedian to talk about his career.
Q: What do you think of Miami?
A: I’ve been here for about two hours, so I really haven’t seen anything. The little back hallway area [of the Rat], the smiling, bright faces of the students, the microphone — and that’s all I’ve seen. And then I leave tomorrow morning, so it’s dark now when I drive back and it’s going to be dark when I leave in the morning. So I don’t get to see anything — what a rip off!
Q: What are you doing once you leave Miami?
A: I have to go back home to Los Angeles to do some work. I’m releasing “The Adventures of Jimmy Sugar.” It’s an electronic storybook. It’s 15 songs that I wrote, it’s a musical storybook. It’s for the ten-year-old in all of us, it’s silly and sophomoric. John Stamos is in it, Laurie Laughlin is in it, Jodie Sweetin is in it, Dave Koz plays saxophone in it and Roger Waters is singing in it. It’s got great music and it’s a really funny story about 10-year-old Jimmy Bugar who wants to be in show business.
Q: Is “The Adventures of Jimmy Bugar” based on life experiences?
A: You know, I think my writing always has to have some real-life experience to pull from.
Q: What is your process for coming up with material?
A: Everybody has a different way. My way is just … sometimes it’s throwing darts at a dartboard and hopefully hitting the bull’s-eye. I just try to keep my ears and eyes open. I have to be in a certain writing mode for stand-up, because it’s different than anything else. Stand-up is its own animal. It’s not like writing a script or a song, it’s live and you don’t know that a joke is always going to work. So my writing process is just throw it all out there, throw the net as wide as you can and see what comes back at you.
Q: Do you ever change your routine based on who you are performing for?
A: You always have to be cognizant of who you are and who you’re talking to. So, when I talked about hurricanes tonight — you know, I’m in Miami, so you have to be aware that people live here and experience hurricanes. I think it’s always good to immerse yourself in wherever you’re at so that you can be tapped into your audience. Everywhere is different: every microphone is different, every stage is different, every lighting setup. Every place is extremely different. And being a stand-up, you have to adapt very quickly.
Q: A very serious question — did you ever consider giving up comedy to be a professional harmonica player?
A: (laugh) No, I didn’t! My career has been very eclectic. I’ve done a lot of different things. I’ve been very lucky to do stand-up, to write, I’m going to direct an episode of “Fuller House” next season, I produce things, I’m able to come here and tell jokes in front of people, do cartoon voices, I’ve hosted shows. I’ve had a career in doing a lot of different things, so I’m really lucky. So for me, it’s been a great, eclectic ride. It’s a blast. I just try to have as much fun as possible. It’s like professional immaturity. I used to say, “When I grow up, I’ll be out of a job.” But at what point do we grow up and we start taking ourselves so seriously? You’re not born that way. You’re a little kid, and you sit there, and you’re walking around, putting your finger in your nose laughing. But someone at some point says, “Stand up straight. Present yourself. Be serious.” I fortunately — or unfortunately — haven’t lost that. It drives my wife crazy sometimes (laugh).
Q: Was there ever a time when you thought, “Maybe I should sit up straight,” or did you always know this was the direction you wanted to go?
A: You know, had I not done this, I really would have gravitated toward being a surgeon. I would loved to have been in the medical field. I find surgery so interesting, just that you can fix a human body. It’s just amazing. It’s like the ultimate thing on the planet, I think. So I would have probably gravitated toward surgery — but I goofed around too much during school. But I had a great partner in crime, Mark Cendrowski, who now directs “The Big Bang Theory” television series. We’ve known each other since we were eight years old and he was always heading the same direction as me in life. We were two kids from the same hometown who went out to Hollywood. He ended up being a director and I ended up being a professional funny person. So it worked for us, but I was really lucky to have him as a partner in crime.
Q: For those who are interested in pursuing comedic acting and stand-up, what was it that took you to that next level? How do you put your resume out there after graduation?
A: In show business, the world is your resume. It’s hard to hand someone a piece of paper, and that’s your work. For show business — I think — there’s no template. There’s no right way to do it, there’s no wrong way to do it. Everybody’s on their own path and you have to discover what your own path is. I mean, you can look at other performers and go, “I really want her career, that’s the career I’m modeling myself after,” but a lot of times, you have completely different characteristics than that person you’re modeling yourself after and you’re on a different road. Everyone’s road is completely different. It’s hard to walk in somebody else’s shoes. People ask me now, “How do you make it?” I don’t know. I didn’t have YouTube when I was starting out. I didn’t have a cell phone or Adobe Premiere to edit things. I didn’t have all these wonderful tools that people have now. It was just kind of, get on a stage, and move forward, and that was how I did it. For me to tell somebody else how to do it is really hard. My best advice is: you better be able to handle a ton of rejection. Because even when you’re successful, you still get rejected. So it’s never easy. It’s the hardest profession in the world.
Q: Was it worth it?
A: Of course it was worth it. But it’s a roller coaster ride. When you’re going high, you’re coming back down at some point. It doesn’t matter which career you have. So you have to be ready for that. I’ve been doing this for 37 years and I always say I’m going into it for the long haul, which is a lot of work. It’s a lot of rejection. I can’t tell you how many failed auditions where I was too fat, or I wasn’t handsome enough, or my nose was too big. “Well, we want a different type.” Or, “You weren’t funny enough.” Then all of a sudden, “Full House.” And people say to me, “You just walked into that, didn’t you?” And I’m like, “No! It was a hundred auditions!” You have to be willing to grasp failure like it’s your friend. And it is your friend, because with each of those little failures, you will learn something.
Q: What would you say to someone who is deciding between pursuing comedy and taking another path?
A: It’s easier as a performer to make someone cry than to make someone laugh. Laughter is the toughest emotion to pry out of an audience. And to do it consistently takes a lot of work, and it takes a lot of time to build that consistently. Anyone can go up and do the saddest thing, and the audience goes, “Ah, that’s so sad!” But on the other side of the coin, to make them laugh for an hour, you have to be the fastest mind in the room. You have to pull everyone with you. I’ll have someone come up to me and say, “Hey, I have this friend who is so funny!” And I’m like, “Well, can he be funny at 8:00 and again at 10:30 for a second show on a Saturday night when people are paying 25 bucks to come see him?” That is what show business is. Someone once told me that it’s 10 percent show and 90 percent business. It’s very true. You can be the funniest, greatest actor, brightest personality in the room, but if you can’t make a living out of it and feed your family and pay your car payment and pay your rent … I don’t sugar coat it for anybody. I just tell people: You have to work your a** off. And when you’re done working your a** off, you’ve got to work your a** off some more. Because if it was easy, everybody would want to be doing what I’m doing. “Oh, you star in a TV show? Where do I go to get that?” “Oh, they’re handing them out over there. Go grab a TV show, and I’ll meet you later at the bar.” There are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of actors who are everyday auditioning for one job, and you have to beat them. And it takes a lot of work to do that. As long as you’re willing to work and work and work and work and work, then I suggest you do it. But if you think it’s going to happen just because you’re getting lucky … well, I don’t have any friends that that’s happened to. They’ve all worked for it, really hard.