Greg Warren Talks Comedy in St. Louis and Why He Left


  • Kyle Makrauer

Comedian and former St. Louis native Greg Warren will be at the Westport Funny Bone, performing every day this weekend. It will be his first time back in St. Louis since the release of his most recent album, Running Out of Time. We sat down with Greg and talked about his start in stand-up, why he decided to leave St. Louis and his very specific opinion on the Cheesecake Factory.

Kelsey McClure: Is comedy more of a job for you, or do you still really like going out and doing it?

Greg Warren: I still really go out and I still love it. It's what I want to do; it was my dream to do it. You know some of the thrill, some of the stuff becomes a little less thrilling after you've made... I've been on stage 300 nights a week at the minimum, for 21 years. So, it's, yeah, I mean it's a little... it's still what I want to do more than anything.

I mean it would really bum me out if it was taken away from me. If I didn't have it going on Saturday night, I would be so bummed out. And I think that's just the thrill, the thrill of coming up with the new joke and having it work. I can create during the day and I can go see if it works at night. You get such immediate feedback with comedy you know?

I do.

So, at night I can go see if I can make it work. And I don't have to go to work anymore, girls would talk to me after the show, and I can drink if I want. I got in a little bit late, so I was pretty much done with my drinking career at this point. That kind of fades out. You know, I'm 45 now. I don't really like going to bars that much. My act is very self-deprecating.

I have picked up on that.

I don't think it's the most attractive thing in the world to girls. And I don't care. One of my best friends, Mike Birbiglia, told me a long time ago, "You got to decide whether you want to do comedy to meet women or you want to do comedy to be really funny." But, um, can I do both? (Laughs)

Can you?

For some reason you can, but I guess what I'm saying is now the thrill is still coming up with a new joke. I don't think I was your typical person that goes into comedy, especially when I went in.

Now, there's a lot more kids that are pretty driven and it's like a legitimate career choice for kids your age, you know? I had a few other interests too, so I wasn't just always obsessed about where I was in the business, and I had the Funny Bone, which was as generous of a place as you can be with stage time to me at that point.

Me, Nikki [Glaser], Tommy [Johnagin] and Andi [Smith] -- we were all doing TV stuff. They're funny people. Josh Arnold too.

Were you guys having to go out of town to do all the TV work?

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

So New York or LA or...?

We'd go to LA and New York and record something. And the most TV I ever got was the five years I lived here, and I felt like I was getting better and the writing was getting better. And then everybody started kind of moving away and I kind of felt myself getting a little bit stale, and I also felt myself staying. I was very comfortable here and I'm like, "I think I can get better at this." Like, I think I could get a little better, and I think maybe I need a new challenge, and a place to be a little uncomfortable.

So I moved to New York. And it's been great. It's been, yeah... definitely great, but I miss St. Louis. New York is just in your face. There's a lot of differences. But when you're uncomfortable, it's the best time in your writing career.


So that first year I was just churning out material and doing short sets in between a lot of great comics. But there's more people in New York that want to watch comedy than there is in LA.

Oh, really?

Yeah, in LA the business is show business. That's the industry. So most people that are in that business don't want to go out that night and watch a show. The postman doesn't want to take a walk on his day off, you know?

Continue to page two for more.

So to wrap it up, and this one actually comes from Jeremy [Essig]: What's so great about the Cheesecake Factory?

Well, now, you asked me the question, so you're going to get a long answer. If you listen to the CD, you know there's quite a bit of material about restaurants.


I've spent a lot of time in restaurants. I eat by myself a lot. I have some dietary limitations. When I'm on the road I like predictability. I don't trust you with your, "Hey man go to JoJo's. It's the best fucking place in the world."

Really? That's the kind of thing I go for.

First of all, there's something about that that just makes me want to not like it. I don't know why, that's something wrong with me. "But you got to go here and get a cheeseburger."

"I don't eat cheeseburgers."

"You get the cheeseburger anyway. "

"Like I don't, I don't..."

I don't want a cheeseburger.

I don't, I'm a vegetarian. I don't want to go there. You're a fucking cheeseburger man, and then they'll make me go and I'll be like, "I'll have, uh, I'll have a salad."

"What the fuck are you doing?"

You know, so that. So I like predictability. Cheesecake Factory.

You know what you're going to get.

They call it a factory. They call it a factory for a very specific reason. These guys are in the business of replication, man.


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