Interview with Todd Glass

On the January 16th episode of WTF with Marc Maron, Todd Glass came out of the closet. Glass has been known for very genuine, honest discussion on his own podcast and his fans might have thought they already knew everything there is to know about him. But it turns out he is also a homosexual. He was very adamant about his reasons for finally coming out at age 47. We'll get to that in a little bit. First, I asked Todd about his main topic, "Being a Decent Person."

There's a video online where you call out a rude customer at a comedy club...

Well I do try to be a decent person, and you might think, "Well, who the fuck doesn't?" But we can all have moments. I try to constantly remind myself to be a decent person, so when I'm talking about it, it's not that I wanna lecture other people, it's indirectly that I want to remind myself. I know what it feels like when someone's not decent to me. I know one person in particular with whom I had the most heart-felt conversation about decency. They were so articulate in how decent people should be, and then I realized... They have no idea how THEY constantly go around being an asshole to everybody. I could have said, "Oh my god you're so clear in your thoughts, but do you know how YOU treat people? Do you have any idea?"

So, I try to look at my own life, to find somewhere that I need to get better. When people are rude in a comedy club audience--not just hecklers but anybody who's just disrespectful at a show--I always think, "Well I can tell them to go fuck themselves, but a waiter or waitress can't." When I went off on that woman, I'm not embarrassed about what I did. I think in a rage I might have said, "Get out of here you whore!" And I really wish I hadn't done that. And I wanna be really crystal clear, what I mean by that is, I never wanna go after someone's weight or color or religion. I don't want to step outside of an intelligent [debate]. Even in a fight, I never wanna go below the belt. I'm better than that. I did that one time, but I just dealt with her as being--for lack of a better word--a gross human being. Who are you treating like this? You gotta be treating everybody like this! You know? This is who you are! Hey, I know in my heart I didn't walk up to her and go, "Shut the fuck up!". I did the hunched over, apology in my face "shush", like, "I hate to do this cuz I know that you're an adult, but can you keep it down". Sorta like when you're in a car and you accidentally cut someone off, and your face has to say, "Sorry that was my fault." And then you saw how she reacted. So of course I fuckin went ballistic. I wanted everyone in the audience who ever had someone be rude to them to get their self-worth back. Guess what, uou don't get to do that tonight! You finally met someone who can tell you to go fuck yourself.

By the way, if she ever contacted me and said, "You know what, at first it was so hard for me because all I could think about how YOU handled it wrong..." Because I'm sure that's the best place she's at, maybe she knows what she did is wrong, but she then spent hours micro-managing the manner in which I over-reacted. If she said, "But then I had an epiphany where I thought about my own actions..." I'd take that video down.

How long have you had strong feelings about people hitting their kids?

I wasn't hit. Once in a while, my mom might get frustrated and grab my arm. But I wasn't hit. The reason I'm so emphatic about that is because, watching comedians over the years, "You know what we should go back to doing, we should go back to hitting our kids. My mom and dad used to whoop the shit out of me, and you know what? I learned my lesson." And the audience applauds. I'm fucking tired of hearing that and watching the masses applaud. It sounds crazy: "Everything would be so much better if we went back to punching our kids." People go, "Punching? It's spanking! You're saying punching to make it sound--" IT'S PUNCHING! If you're gonna do it, at least own what it is. I'm not playing with words, YOU ARE! It's punching. The reason your kids are shutting up when nothing else works is because they're getting punched. And seeing the audience applauding, "Yay, lets start punching our kids! That's the problem with today. There would be so much more harmony..." As opposed to thinking, "Wait, isn't that's how we got in the mess we're in because people used to punch their kids? Isn't that how we got here?"

And I love watching "Nanny 911". Reality show or not, it's a great one. When people fight her methods, it' like, "You're calling her because you're having trouble. But you're fucking holding on to your old ways for dear life. If you're old ways are a pillow, you're clutching on to them even though it's not fucking working. And I think it's because the new way for it to work takes a god-awful amount of patience." And I get it! I don't know if I would have that patience! It's hard! But it doesn't matter. It's either right or wrong.

Do you think comedy is entering another "golden era", as they say. If so, do you think the bubble is gonna burst again?

Standup comedy is like music, it will be around forever. The only thing that really happened at the end of the comedy boom, is the clubs that didn't know what they're doing closed. Now, I know I'm the king of prefacing. Were there some unbelievably awesome, well run clubs that closed down? Probably. But MOST clubs that were well run, and knew about comedy, and when comedy changed, they changed with it... Most clubs that booked relevant acts instead of desperately try to please their 50 year old audience while ignoring their 21 year old audience stayed open. I'm working more of these little comedy clubs--I use the Laughing Skull in Atlanta as an example--these little clubs are proving that you don't need tremendous overhead, with a 5 million dollar building and 20 people on your staff. When you go into the Laughing Skull, it holds about 90 people but it's a legitimate club. A good comedy club is revered for a reason, it really makes for an easy week. When you work at any club that gets it, when you work at Helium in Philly, they get both the business end of it and the artistic end of it. As long as they're both equally credited. You can't have a manager who knows how to order the food and get his staff in on time but doesn't understand comedians. There's a business side and an artistic side, and when a club gets both, it's magic. But I'd rather go to a little 60 seat theatre where everybody is there to see me, than go to a shitty comedy club.

So, the Jan 16th Episode of WTF...

It did two things that I said I wanted to do. One of them, the simpler reason is I wanted to tell everybody, tell my friends. I knew that it was about telling some people that didn't know, but more it was telling people who already knew it, but I hadn't been ready to discuss it honestly. A lot of my friends got in touch with me saying warm things like, "Todd, I'm glad you got this out, I hope this helps you breathe easier." I think it made people think, I really did tell my story and I hope I was able to say it in a way that has never been said before, in terms of using "Gay" or "Homo" in a negative way. I hope I was able to hit that angle for people who hadn't really thought of it that way. Like I said on WTF, people hold on to those things sometime for no good reason. History tells us, we're going to look bad for doing it in years to come. It's almost factual. Try casually saying to someone "Yea, I jewed them down, I got it cheaper." People in the room will gasp. They'd say "Who are you, are you from another planet?" Now I know some people will say that privately with true hatred, but what about seemingly intelligent people in public? And with the word "Retarded", I think we're slowly getting there with that. I don't know why it needs to be slow. You don't get why using "retarded" as an adjective might offend someone? You might say, "Well a retarded child wouldn't understand." Well what about his parents, who know that they're child is not dumb. He's retarded, he's not dumb. He's just a wonderful human being who never wanted to be anything but a gentle, kind human being. And now people are using it to describe something stupid. You're not acting retarded, a retarded person doesn't do those things. The negative crap you're throwing out there... I looked at my own self with that too. I think twice before I make a crappy fat joke.

And by the way, it's not about saying, "I'm not gonna do it because other people are sensitive." It's about not doing it because you wanna be intelligent. You have to use adjectives that explain the truth. Back in the day, if someone dropped something at a comedy show, it was acceptable to say "What, is Jerry's kid here?" And everybody laughed, even intelligent people. And then one day, someone got corrected on that. Because, it's not about "Don't say that because someone in the audience might have a kid with cerebral palsy." It's just not a proper adjective. People with cerebral palsy can't express themselves. They're brilliant people, but because of some deplorable disease, they can't express the brilliance in their head outwardly. And you're using that word to describe someone who's clumsy at a table? No matter what, you can't argue that you're not expressing yourself intelligently. If you say "I put some tape around my car, I nigger-rigged it," people gasp in horror, rightfully so. Hey, 30 years ago, some people might not have cared. But when people get corrected, they fight it. You hear, "People are too sensitive!" No, no, YOU'RE too sensitive. It would crush your heart to realize how sensitive you are. You're being corrected, and you're fighting it, because you realize if you're wrong, you have to change. And it's easier to call everybody else sensitive. You hear, "You can't say anything anymore!" Have you noticed that people who have the most to say--poets and doccumentarians, etc.--they're never complaining about that. If you REALLY have something to say, you can say a LOT! "Oh you can't say anything anymore." Yes you can. People are just correcting you, rightfully so. It's like if someone correcting your spelling, and you go, "Oh, You can't say anything anymore!" You mean, you can't say anything incorrectly. Nobody's really challenging your right for freedom of speech. You're being corrected TECHNICALLY. It's not up for debate that that's not the right way to say that word. You're holding on to your stupidity.

I don't wanna get off on a tangent, but the people who are the most dangerous aren't the aggressive people holding hateful signs outside a gay person's funeral. They're not our biggest problem. It's the average person who isn't homophobic at all but isn't being more vocal in support of people. I wanna be crystal clear on this. If you go to an organization, I know there are churches and synagogues that are not homophobic. But wherever you go, if it mirrors what you feel, then that doesn't get me upset. If you're a really homophobic person and you go to a homophobic church, that doesn't really get me riled up. That makes sense. At least the organization matches your feelings. But if you're NOT homophobic, and you go to a homophobic church or synagogue, you gotta fucking stop. Because you're okaying it, you're indirectly saying that these people aren't equal. And then some crazy person takes all that and might be the person who does something erratic. If you're homophobic or sexist or racist, that's not my battle. I know we can change those people, but that' not my battle. My battle is this. Whatever you feel inside, if you're NOT hateful, have some fucking follow-through. Imagine--and this could happen tomorrow, I'm not saying there will be no hateful people tomorrow, but someone could read these words and literally, change could happen in a fucking second--that if every person who was not homophobic stopped going to their homophobic church or synagogue, they would feel that in the church immediately. There are lots of people sitting in these churches who think, "Well, that's not the way we feel, we get along with our gay neighbor." Or, "Our son is gay but the church does a lot of other good stuff." You can't do enough good to unravel the bad. That's my plight, to beg the world to just have follow-through. Just adhere to what you believe in, that's not too much to ask is it?

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