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10 Questions With Adam Carolla

 

 

Interview conducted by phone on August 3, 2012.

 

 

Me: First of all, thanks for agreeing to do this interview; I really appreciate your time.

 

Adam: Sure, my pleasure.

 

Me: So, my first question: what is your vision for the future of the Ace Broadcasting network? Do you have any plans to re-incorporate video, add new shows – anything like that?

 

Adam: Um, there's a general "onward and upward" kind of a thing, y'know? I don't always know where "onward and upward" is, but I kind of know what direction - I mean, I guess what I'm saying is - you ever do that thing where it's rush hour, and you're cutting through town, and all you know is you have to go this direction and right. You know, forward and right, to get to where your house is, or your work is, or whatever. So, you'll drive forward for a while and then you'll hit a traffic light, it'll be red - so instead of waiting, you just turn right and then go down one and then go up again, y'know? You want to keep moving forward, you know the direction you're going, and you kind of know the destination, but you're not sure exactly how you're going to get there. You just know, if I keep - it's that thing like, I dunno, you ever walk through New York? And when you're walking through New York you go, eh, it's like twenty-eight blocks down that way and four avenues over that way - so when you hit a red light, you just go down an avenue, you know what I mean? You just keep walking. And that's all I've been doing for the past three and a half years, really.

 

Me: Makes sense. Alright, if you could change only one thing about the government, what would it be?

  

Adam: I'd just like them to be efficient. Whether it's building unmanned drones to take out al-Qaeda, or it's police chiefs or fire chiefs or schoolteachers, anything - I feel like, every dollar I give them, they're squandering eighty-one cents of it - you know that feeling? It's like, well give us more money, and - you know, right now we're getting nineteen cents' worth of bang out of every buck you give them? So, give us two bucks, and we'll get thirty-eight cents' worth of bang. But my feeling is, like, how about I not give you two bucks, I'll continue to give you the dollar, and you figure out a way to get fifty cents' worth of bang out of it. Like, you take L.A., who's - basically, we're at a crazy deficit in California, L.A.'s going to go bankrupt, but - we had a whole big thing a couple days ago that too many city employees, too many people in downtown, were watching the Olympics on their computers, and they were in danger of crashing the system, because all the guys with all the great benefit plans when they retire at the age of fifty-two - they're all sitting at their desks watching the Olympics, instead of doing whatever it is they were supposed to be doing! You know what I mean? They didn't even yell at anyone for watching the Olympics, they just said, "Please don't do it because you're going to make the system crash"! So, I don't get the feeling that every dollar I give them is being spent quite as efficiently as I'd like it to be spent - like if it was your business, you'd spend it more efficiently. So, their thing is, “here's how we solve it - give us more money”. And my thing is, no, no, no - you watch less Olympics on your computer while I'm paying you. That's how we solve that equation.

 

Me: (laughing) Right, I think everyone wins there.

  

Adam: I say, I get to keep my dollar, and you’ll get spend fifty cents off of every - f--k, instead of, y’know, nineteen cents! And by the way, the idea of ‘let's give them more money’ means more computer-watching of the Olympics.

  

Me: (laughing) Right, and they'll have to hire more people to do that.

  

Adam: Right, we'll have to hire more people and get them on more computers,

  

Me: Alright. If you were to move out of the L.A. area, where would you want to live and why?

 

Adam: Ohhh… almost anywhere. Seattle's awesome… Spokane's really cool, a little bit quiet. You know, I loved Kirkland, Washington when I was there. I was in Kirkland for a few - I think Kirkland, Washington. Or Plentywood, Montana, but just 'cause it's called "plenty wood".

  

Me: (laughing) Ohhh yeah. I'm actually from that area, my dad still lives basically in Kirkland, just kind of on the Kirkland-Bellevue border.

 

Adam: Oh really?

 

Me: Yeah. I'm in Austin now, which I feel like is Seattle with better weather.

 

Adam: Yeah, everyone says that.

  

Me: Yeah, it's a cool city though. So, my next question - is there any offer that terrestrial radio could give you that would make you want to come back?

 

Adam: Oh, yeah, yeah - like, five million dollars a year, and y'know, a show that's, like, two to three hours, somewhere around noon. Noon to two or two to three, yeah. I know I sound like I'm kidding, but I'm not really kidding, like - yeah, if they ponied up a huge, big fat chunk of money, and made it convenient, and all that kind of stuff, yeah - but, nah, I don't see it happening.

 

Me: What radio shows and/or podcasts do you personally like to listen to, if you have time?

  

Adam: Well, of course I listen to all the ones under the Ace Broadcasting umbrella. For Crying Out Loud, Allison Rosen is Your New Best Friend, Penn Gillette's, and all that good stuff. Other than that, I don't have a ton of time… I'm not around it a lot… I will listen to a guy named Dennis Prager who is a very conservative, very religious Jew (laughs). He does A.M. talk, and we go out and do lectures together, and the guy's - I'm not Jewish and I'm not religious and I'm not - I'm an atheist, but he just has so much wisdom that I find him to be very thought-provoking, so, uh - Dennis Prager. And I get a little Dennis Miller at night, too. Mainly just dudes named Dennis. 

 

Me: (laughs) Okay, you’ve had a lot of bad air-travel experiences – which one takes the cake as the worst experience that you've had?

  

Adam: Easily and by far the one that stands out, head and shoulders above all the horrible mistreatment that I've received by airlines is Alaskan Airlines from about two years ago. I had a first class ticket to fly to Seattle, and when I got onto the plane, they said, "Uh, yeah, you're going to have to check that bag". And it was just one carry-on bag. And I said, "I've got a first class ticket - how about I put it above my first class seat?" And they said, "No, all the bins are full". And I thought, well, first off, I have a first class ticket - should you be giving away the bins above my seat? Isn’t that part of the first class ticket? And they’re like, “Yeah, someone else just put their stuff in there”. So I’m like, “Well, I don’t get the space above my first class chair, huh?” Nah. No, I check the bag. And they give me, y’know, a bag check, and I said, “okay”, and, uh, I got off the plane first, because I was in first class, and I got on the escalator, and then I got into the tram… I think it was Seattle, you guys – Seattle has like that DART system, like that underground railway thing that goes through?

  

Me: Yeah, uh-huh.

 

Adam: So I went on there, and then I went and stood by the luggage-go-round for forty-five minutes, and my bag never showed up! So then I went to the desk, to the friendly Alaska Airlines guy, and I said, “Hey, I had to check my bag and, uh, it never came through. It never came through the bag check claim here.” And he said, “Oh, no” - I was showing him my ticket stub for my bag check, and he said, “that’s a gate check.”

  

Me: (laughs) Oh, my god.

  

Adam: And I said, “Oh, well, no one told me it was a gate check.” And he said, “Well, that’s a green ticket, and that always means gate check.” And I said, “Does it say anywhere on this green ticket that it’s a gate check?” And he said, “No… but most of our customers understand the green one’s for gate check.” And I said, “Really! So I’m just supposed to just sort of intrinsically have a gut feeling about the color of your ticket stub as it pertains to whether it’s a gate check or not.” And they said, “Yeah.” And I said, “Well, you know, you could solve a lot of this by printing it on the stub.” And they said, “Well, again, our customers know.” So I said, “Well, listen - it’s a gate check, and I’m in first class, so I’m off the plane literally before the luggage gets there, so I actually pass – so I don’t see my luggage, I walk past where it’s going to be.” So I said, “Okay, well what can we do? Where is it?” And he said, “It’s at the gate.” So I said, “Okay, well can you phone the gate and have somebody send it down?” And he said, “Uhh, you can go get it” (laughs). And I said, “Well, how am I gonna go get it?” And he said, “Do you have your boarding pass?” And I said, “No, I don’t have my boarding pass. I threw it away.” And he said, “You don’t have your boarding pass?” And I said, “Yeah, I collect and trade spent boarding passes. No, I don’t have my boarding pass, I already flew on the plane! I’m done! I’m in Seattle! What do you want me to do with my boarding pass? And, by the way, it’s printed on a fucking piece of notebook paper that has something on the other side of it, because I recycle paper, but no! Once I get onto the plane – yeah, I’ve got a clubhouse and I’ve wallpapered it with all the places I’ve been. ‘This is my ticket to Seattle!’ I said, no, I don’t have my boarding pass.” “What, you don’t?” Like I’m some kind of escaped mental patient for not having my boarding pass after – it was like, you leaving Disneyland and someone in the parking lot going, “Do you have your ticket stub?” and you went “no, I threw it away,” and they went, “you don’t have your ticket stub?!”. Like, I’m done! I flew on the plane! So, I said, “Can’t you get somebody? Just call up to the desk and get somebody to send it down here.” And he says, “Well, I’ll tell you what I can do. I can issue you a temporary boarding pass, and you can go getit.” And I said, “Well, how does that work?”, and he said, “what do you mean? Just go get in the security line!”

  

Me: (laughing) Oh, my god!

 

Adam: And I’m like, “You’re sending me back through security?! I’m already here! You mean I gotta go through security, back on the underground railway, back through the thing and up to the thing to go get the thing?!” “Yep.” So then now, next thing you know, I’m standing in security, with no luggage or anything – I’m not flying anywhere, I’m just going through. It’d be like you going down to LAX and going through security so you could get a Cinnabon, and then leaving again. Now, obviously, Alaskan Airlines – that is the worst. I mean - you don’t get any worse than that. And then, when I get up to the gate… they’d left already, and the bag wasn’t there, and they’d moved a couple gates down, and I went to the next gate and I said, “Hey, I got a bag here,” and they said, “yeah,” and I said, “hey, when you guys issue these gate check stubs, you really should tell the person that it’s a gate check, not check the bag.” And he said, “Well, most of our customers know.” And I said, “No, this customer – first off, stop counting on that, number one. Number two, stop making it my fault, and number three, why don’t you write it on the goddamn stub?”

  

Me: (laughs) Right!

  

Adam: So, yeah. First class ticket, and, uh, the super friendly guy behind the counter just issuing – instead of picking up the phone, and sending the bag down, says, here’s a temporary boarding pass and just go get in the security line.

 

Me: Well, that’d be too easy.

  

Adam: Yeah. What an asshole, and what a horrible airline. Horrible. Alaska’s a horrible airline.

 

Me: Seriously. And if you’re gatechecking, you probably don’t know what’s going on, because you’re not prepared for it. They’re taking your bag at the gate, so… I don’t know why they’d assume.

  

Adam: Right. Right.

  

Me: That’s crazy. Well, my next question is, do you think you would be as successful as you are if you hadn’t been raised in an emotionally absent family?

 

Adam: Um…I’m sure I’d have the same personality I have… I might be missing some of the edge, or some of the overcompensation, or some of the whatever. But, um, I don’t know, it’s like… do you think you’d have some of the same level of grit and determination if you didn’t spend four years in a, you know, Japanese prisoner-of-war camp in World War II? (chuckling) Like, maybe not, but I don’t wish it upon anybody? Including myself?

  

Me: (chuckling) Right, makes sense. Well, kind of along the same lines: how do you keep your kids grounded given the comparatively privileged lifestyle they are growing up in?

 

Adam: You can’t. You can’t. There’s no way. It’s gonna be like, saying, y’know, kid’s got a laptop in his bathroom – how are you gonna keep him away from porn after puberty? It’s like, uh, you’re not. You’re not. You know what I mean? It’s about – it’s really just about being a sane example for them, and being a hardworking example for them, and being a steady example for them. But you’re not gonna – there’s no way you’re gonna talk them out of all this crazy stuff, all the time, and this life of privilege. It’s impossible.

 

Me: Well, we’ll just hope for the best, then.

  

Adam: Yeah. Hire a good nanny.

 

Me: (chuckling) Right. Well, going back sort of to the government question: do you think electing a new mayor will have a significant impact on life in Los Angeles?

 

Adam: Um, I don’t know how much it’s going to help. I know Villarigosa – I mean, Tony Vilar – is a dope, and a narcissist, and he has a personality disorder. So, obviously, removing the imbecile is going to help… I mean, we could replace Tony Vilar with one of those plastic owls they put on top of restaurants so pelicans don’t crap on the sign (laughs), and it’d be a lateral move, maybe better – I mean, it’d be a step in the right direction, right? He’s an idiot. So, getting rid of him would be – so, he doesn’t need to be replaced, he just needs to leave. And then if he becomes governor of California, then everyone in California just needs to leave, and then he’ll get his wish: it’ll be Mexico. But that wish – that ain’t gonna work out big picture for him, you see. Because you can do the Mexican math and the Mexico math – see, that’s the whole problem. I keep wanting to tell everyone in Los Angeles – uh, hey, my Mexican brothers, you don’t want this to become Mexico, as much as you think you want it to become Mexico. Why do you think you fled Mexico? Because it was Canada? Or because it was Mexico? (Laughs) So, let’s not create another Mexico here, because then you’ll be fleeing to Portland.

 

Me: (chuckling) Right. Yeah, not a lot of Canadians coming over the border, that’s for sure.

 

Adam: Yeah. Yeah, wonder why. Hey, but it’s impossible to judge. You can’t judge.

  

Me: Oh, no, no, of course not. Everyone’s equal.

  

Adam: Everything’s the same. Everything is beautiful, every culture is equal, everything’s the same. Canadians love Canada, and Mexicans are trying to kill themselves to get into California, Arizona and Texas – but for no reason. Nah. No, you can’t judge. And as I always say, whenever anyone does this thing where they go, y’know, “Hey, it’s not the Iraqi people, it’s not the Syrian people, it’s not the Mexican people – it’s the government, it’s the government!” I always go, “Well, what part of Canada did they get the government from? The government is made up of those people, is it not? Where are they from? What nationality is the Syrian government? What part of Denmark are they from? Let’s not blame it all on the government – they’re only made up of a miniature version of the people.

 

Me: (laughing) Right, of course. Okay, my final question: in a perfect world, would there be any taboo topics for comedians - or would everything be fair game?

 

Adam: I personally feel that it’s in, y’know, poor taste to be making jokes about folks that got shot in a movie theater, y’know, four days ago, when there’s plenty of parents that are still grieving. But again – poor taste. Not illegal, just poor taste. And so, that’s up to you. If you want to make jokes about 9/11 or about Columbine, that’s your business. It’s your job to make those jokes somehow poignant, or funny, or both, and if you can’t do it, then it’ll be our job, as a consumer, to not support you. That’s basically the system I want, you know – the system I want in place is basically no system. It’s, may the best man win, and may the funniest guy win – and if all you do is Colorado massacre humor, and somehow it’s hi-larious and thought-provoking, then that’s fine with me! Y’know, it’s all up to you. I mean, it’s like, Gilbert Godfried can make jokes about the tsunami in Japan – and then Aflac can fire Gilbert Godfried. They’re both right. You know what I’m saying?

  

Me: Uh-huh.

  

Adam: I mean, that’s the society I want. Now, for me, I set myself up in a position where I can make jokes and not get fired, because I’m my own boss.

 

Me: Yeah, exactly.

 

Adam: Well, I gotta make a phone call, baby.

  

Me: Oh yeah, no problem – we’re done. I appreciate it!

 

Adam: Thanks, Holly. 

 

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