John Rabon talks about being a comedian on Clown, Interrupted with KiKi Maroon

September 18, 2018

#4 John Rabon- Comedy


This episode makes me so happy. This is the first time I sit down with a stranger. It was very weird for my friends because I was walking around going, “Oh my god, I’m so excited! I’m gonna meet a heroin addict!” His name is John Rabon. He is a standup comic based in Austin, TX. He just recorded a comedy album at the Velveeta Room that will be out soon. He also has a podcast called Yes, I’m Still Sober, because he was tired of people asking. 

John was arrested 8 times, several of them being DWI’s. He’s got time in jail, time in rehab, and lots of time on stage. He quit with a combination of  Buddhism and Fight Club (which makes way more sense when he says it). And of course we talk about dating, because I told you, it’s going to come up a lot.

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The Clown, Interrupted theme song is graciously provided by The Last Domino. You can listen to or purchase the full song HERE.


KiKi Maroon: Hi! Welcome to Clown, Interrupted with KiKi Maroon. That’s me! This episode makes me so happy. In the first three episodes, I talked to people that I personally knew. This was the first time that I sat down with a total stranger. It was really weird for my friends, because I was walking around and going, “Oh my God, I’m so excited! I’m going to meet a heroin addict!” Not a sentence I thought I would say, but that’s where I’m at in my life right now, and I love it. His name is John Rabon. He’s a stand-up comic based in Austin, Texas. He just recorded his album at the Velveeta Room. He also has a podcast called “Yes, I’m Still Sober,” because he was tired of people asking – which I totally get. People ask me all the time. I understand it. Lots of people take little breaks or, like me, they try to quit drinking but fail about ten times. So why would they assume it’s sticking this time? A lot of people will, unknowingly, say things like, “I miss drunk KiKi,” or, “When you fall off the wagon, you better call me because I miss partying with you!” I know what they mean… but it’s kind of a shitty thing to say. Like, I get it. It was fun. We were crazy. We were jumping off roofs and having threesomes and being kicked out of bars. It was amazing. But also, I was crying myself to sleep most nights and waking up covered in vomit and I hospitalized multiple times. I wasn’t happy, I was just playing happy. 

So, when people say, “I miss drunk KiKi,” it’s kind of selfish. I know that people don’t really mean it that way, they didn’t know everything else that was going on. But I wish that they did know, because I think saying that stuff is what makes it really hard for some people to quit. When you’re in those first few weeks of sobriety and your friends say, “Oh come on – just one!” or, “Oh, are you still doing that?” – it fucks with you. So, I guess I just want people to know that no one quits because they hate having fun. Just don’t make it about you, is all I’m saying. 

Anyway, again – I love this episode. It was a marker for me, “This is the thing I’m really doing! I’m not just talking to friends anymore. I’m interviewing people.” And John was so goddamn interesting. He was arrested eight times, including multiple DWIs. We’ve got time in jail, time in rehab, and lots of time on stage. He quit by using a combination of Buddhism and Fight Club, which makes way more sense when he says it. And of course, we talk about dating. I told you that’s going to come up a lot. That’s just where I’m at right now, sorry. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! Here’s John Rabon.

[Theme song: “Last Call” provided by The Last Domino]

John Rabon: Do you do weed maintenance?

KiKi Maroon: You know, even before I stopped drinking, I really didn’t smoke as much anymore because something happened to my brain chemistry where it wasn’t fun for me anymore. I just got those paranoid, weird feelings.

John Rabon: Right. Yeah.

KiKi Maroon: I know a lot of people do that though. Do you smoke?

John Rabon: No, no. Weed makes me want to do heroin.

KiKi Maroon: Okay.

John Rabon: Also, when I smoke weed, it makes me acutely aware of all my failures in life. Haha.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah, that’s what I mean by “paranoia.” Haha.

John Rabon: Yeah, just the whole, “Oh, let’s really analyze and become way more introspective.” I’m like that. So it’s not something I like, I already think about shit too much. I don’t need that heightened.

KiKi Maroon: That’s exactly how I feel. Especially at parties, I become so antisocial because I’m just in my head, like, “Oh, they think I’m stupid. I shouldn’t have said that.” And it just goes and goes, I don’t understand it.

John Rabon: Right. I’ve had people ask, “What do you think about people who just smoke weed?” And I’m like, “Well, everything’s in your head anyway.” I consider addiction to be a disorder and people say “disease,” and that made sense 80 years ago, but it’s in your brain. I mean, it’s all in your head. So, if you think that weed works for you, it probably will. It’s people that are like, “I wonder if it’s going to.. oh, I don’t know.” Then you probably shouldn’t. Because I have friends who quit something, either some hardcore shit or drinking, but they smoke weed and their attitude is, “Why wouldn’t I?” It works for them because they’re already in that mindset. 

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. That makes sense. Because some people get very like, “Oh, but you’re not sober.” Well, “Fuck you.” Haha.

John Rabon: Yeah, right. Yeah, I mean technically that’s correct. So you just go, “Yeah, I don’t drink.” It’s like, fine, I’ll be technically correct then.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. People get weird at A.A. meetings. For example, I won’t say, “I love mushrooms.” That’s frowned upon. But I’ve never seen mushrooms as a drug, it wasn’t something I did every day. It was like, once a year, this thing happens and, “Okay, I’m going to go talk to God.” Because that’s how I did it. Haha.

John Rabon: Also, psychedelics aren’t what you would consider “habitual.” I mean, maybe they are for some people, but I haven’t met any. Obviously there are people that are addicted to everything, but psychedelics are not something that is generally addictive.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah.

John Rabon: “I gotta do acid or I can’t function today!” – I’ve never heard that. I don’t know anybody that does that.

KiKi Maroon: Well, what did you do? I know that you said that your problem wasn’t just drinking.

John Rabon: Okay. Haha. Alright. So what happened was – I drank for years, obviously. Let me see, how do I start? I didn’t start drinking until I was 21. I didn’t start smoking cigarettes until I was 20. Really a late bloomer kind of a thing, but boy did I catch up! When I moved to Austin and got into the comedy scene, I also got into going out to bars, and the bar scene. Just really living it up and going, “Holy shit!” I grew up religious. So, it was one of those things where the lifestyle…You know? And my grandfather was an alcoholic, so my mom was really anti-drinking. Understandably so, to the point that we couldn’t even have IBC Root Beer.

KiKi Maroon: Oh, because it was “beer”?

John Rabon: Because it looked too similar, I guess it was kind of triggering.

KiKi Maroon: Do you think that she had a drinking problem or it was just through her father?

John Rabon: No. It’s because of growing up in an abusive alcoholic household. 

KiKi Maroon: Wow.

John Rabon: Of course, alcoholism runs in my family, so I just got into it. I know this isn’t exactly chronological, but what happened later is – after I got arrested several times for public intoxication… And I’m a convicted felon because I have three DUIs.

KiKi Maroon: Ah, I’ll ask you about that.

John Rabon: Yeah. And I ended up dating someone who was 13 years younger than me. So, I’m like 34, she’s 21 and she was into pills.

KiKi Maroon: Oh, okay. She introduced you to a whole new world.

John Rabon: Yeah. It turns out, I’m really into painkillers. It turns out I really, really like opiates – I didn’t know that about myself. So, I got into heroin for several years.

KiKi Maroon: Do you think it’s the same with drinking, because it’s supposed to be a downer? I got super hopped up. I would jump around and stuff, but then later on, it’d be a downer. I found pills very relaxing and I enjoyed them. And even though I did coke, I never became a super cokehead. So, I’m wondering if people are one or the other, more drawn to uppers or downers?

John Rabon: I’m definitely more drawn to downers. I’ve dabbled with coke, but I remember one night at a comic’s party, we had a lot of coke and I was having an okay time. Then I found out how much it cost and I was like, “You are fucking out of your mind! Do you know how much heroin you can buy for this amount of coke?”

KiKi Maroon: Haha! You’re fiscally responsible!

John Rabon: You could tell what my preference was because I was like, “Why would you spend that kind of money on this shit?” This doesn’t… Yeah, you can drink more, but nah. I just couldn’t…

KiKi Maroon: “This is only a little bit better than a Red Bull.” I didn’t really feel that great afterwards.

John Rabon: And that’s definitely your preference. I think that’s definitely what that is.

KiKi Maroon: Okay.

John Rabon: But what happened is, I never legally got in trouble for heroin. Alcohol was the one that fucked me up legally. Heroin was just the thing that goes, “Alright, now we’re going to hit a downward spiral. Now we’re going to really… you’re not hitting bottom quick enough.” It was like alcohol would bump and set, and then heroin spiked it down. Like, “Here we go!” So that’s why I’m a retired drunk and a retired junkie. Also what happened is, I went to rehab and got off of heroin. But I was in San Antonio and there’s nothing to do in San Antonio but drink, really.

KiKi Maroon: Haha. Okay. Yeah, I’m from San Antonio originally.

John Rabon: Yeah, there’s nothing to do there except drink. They say that about Austin and it’s true – Austin’s identity is built on being a day-drunk. But in San Antonio, there really is nothing to do. It’s like, “No, of course we drink.”

KiKi Maroon: Yeah, there’s not a whole lot to do. I stay at my parents’ whenever I go visit. And previously, we would always have a pitcher of margaritas – that was just the thing. I would drive up and they’d be waiting on the porch like, “It’s time!”

John Rabon: “It’s time! Here we go!”

KiKi Maroon: And it was always fun. I’m like, “Oh yay, family margaritas!” And then later on, I was like, “No, you don’t understand. I can’t anymore.”

John Rabon: Right.

KiKi Maroon: This is different.

John Rabon: Yeah. And that was the thing that people in San Antonio thought was hilarious. I went to a rehab that was in San Antonio, and then I stayed there because I had to get away from all my dealers and people in Austin. So it was really funny to people when I said, “I came to San Antonio to get away from drugs.” They’re like, “Are you out of your mind?!”

KiKi Maroon: Hahaha! “You went closer to the border?”

John Rabon: I’m like, “What are you talking about?” The difference is that I’m almost 40 and white and I can’t just walk around… It was funny, my sober house was actually on the west side of San Antonio, where a lot of the dealers are.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah.

John Rabon: And they’re like, “Really? You’re just right in the middle…” But I can’t just walk around and go, ‘Hey, do you have any of the heroin?’ Walking around, looking like me – I look like a narc. There’s nobody; I don’t have any connections here. So that was fine. But because of the progression of the alcoholism and everything else… you know, “Did you ever stop drinking?” “Yeah, when I did heroin!” Because you can’t do both of them. You die a lot.

KiKi Maroon: Haha. Really? Oh, okay.

John Rabon: Yeah. You tend to OD several times, when you do both.

KiKi Maroon: Got it. I didn’t know if it was like, with mushrooms, I never drank, because your skin is already crawling. The idea of getting drunk on top of that is stupid to me. So, I didn’t know if it was that, but you just physically can’t?

John Rabon: No, it’ll just shut you down.

KiKi Maroon: Okay, I didn’t know that.

John Rabon: Yeah, it’s just two different depressants. You’ll OD quick if you’re drinking a lot and also doing heroin. 

KiKi Maroon: I’m learning so much from you.

John Rabon: So don’t do both. So, I was in San Antonio and I had just started a dishwashing job. I have a degree, but I wash dishes. I’ve been a dishwasher for like seven years now.

KiKi Maroon: Have you heard about that guy that travels around and does that. He was on Letterman.

John Rabon: Yeah.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah, it’s a job you can get anywhere.

John Rabon: Yeah. That’s the thing that was very, very strange, and I’ll talk about that in a second. But because I was in restaurants with cooks.. Being around cooks… I mean, they party hard.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. They’re getting drunk in the kitchen the whole time.

John Rabon: Yeah, that’s how they can tolerate making very little money while working that hard, is that they’re junkies and drunks, too. So, I started drinking again after a while and thinking, “Ah, it’s fine,” but no, it doesn’t matter. It’s weird how you go right back to the progression. You get so bad, and then you stop, and then you’re like, “Oh, maybe I’m fine again.” But you’re not. For some reason, you get back there really quick.

KiKi Maroon: I’m only three years in and I’ve had the, “I’m fine now,” moment multiple times. Well, I’m three years into the last time I quit. I quit multiple times. For about a month, or two weeks, or whatever.

John Rabon: Sure.

KiKi Maroon: But I had that little, “I’m fine,” moment. But I know, “No, that is what you told yourself every time.”

John Rabon: Right.

KiKi Maroon: But it’s hard. I don’t know how to cancel it, I mean, besides just slapping myself in the face and saying, “No,” there’s not something to make the, “I’m fine,” to stop randomly coming up.

John Rabon: Right. That’s one of the tools and… heh heh, “tools.” One of the things that they use in different types of recovery programs, whether it be 12-step or… I can’t remember the name of the one that I used in the second rehab I went to. But it was where you go back and analyze your thought process. And they always say “play the tape out”, which is a really outdated term but a good idea. It’s very easy to remember all the good shit and to go, “Man, it really feels good after a bad day to have it.”

KiKi Maroon: Yeah, “That was fun.”

John Rabon: You do miss those first couple hours. But do you remember the last two hours? Do you remember how that ended up? Also, what kind of truck did you flip? What was it?

KiKi Maroon: Silverado. I was lucky. It was a massive, huge truck. So, it wasn’t like… well, I should have died.

John Rabon: Yeah.

KiKi Maroon: I mean, even the cabin was totally crushed in.

John Rabon: Damn.

KiKi Maroon: So, from what I was told, I skidded into the ditch. It was a ditch in somebody’s yard. So, I kind of skidded into the ditch, freaked out, pushed the gas instead of the brake. So I hit a pipe under there, which flipped me back out of the ditch and it kind of rolled a little bit. And so, I ended up with the truck upside down. Neighbors came out. I was less than a block from my house. I had almost made it, right? Neighbors came out. I somehow crawled out of the car; they don’t understand how. And I was yelling at them, “Don’t call the cops. I’m fine. Don’t call the cops.”

John Rabon: “I got this.”

KiKi Maroon: Yes, as if it was an option.

John Rabon: Right, right. “Don’t worry. I’ll get this home.” Like, your truck’s upside down. “No, I got it.”

KiKi Maroon: “No, I got it. It’s cool. It’s cool.”

John Rabon: “I know a guy.”

KiKi Maroon: Haha. And yeah, it was completely totaled. I totaled it. It was smashed and the ambulance people didn’t understand how I even got out of it because it was so completely crushed.

John Rabon: By the way, anybody listening to this, the sound in the background is my cat, Sid.

KiKi Maroon: Hi, Sid.

John Rabon: Sid is short for Siddhartha, unless you’re talking to my mom and then it’s short for Sidney because I don’t want to have a Buddhism conversation with my mother.

KiKi Maroon: Haha. Sid’s like, “You talking about drugs?”

John Rabon: Yeah. “Can I help?” 

KiKi Maroon: So, truck. Why were you asking?

John Rabon: Because the truck that I rolled was a Ford Ranger and those things are shitty. They don’t handle well, those smaller Ford Rangers. So I rolled that truck like three times.

KiKi Maroon: Oh my God.

John Rabon: It was also in a ditch.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. Maybe they should just outlaw ditches instead.

John Rabon: Haha.Yeah. That one was strange, because, talk about being lucky – it was a single-car accident. You’re not from Austin, but there’s this big bridge on Loop 360 on the west side of Austin, with lakes and everything… it was right before the big bridge. Luckily, it was not on the bridge or into the water, but the Travis County Sheriffs maintain that area, as opposed to Austin PD. Travis County Sheriffs don’t have a quota. Austin PD, at the time and probably still, they like to make money off of alcohol arrests. So, I didn’t even get arrested. It was a single-car accident. So, they took me to the hospital. I didn’t get arrested.

KiKi Maroon: Shut up, lucky!

John Rabon: Yeah.

KiKi Maroon: I was in jail with a concussion.

John Rabon: That’s fucked up.

KiKi Maroon: For like 20 hours.

John Rabon: That’s so wrong.

KiKi Maroon: Oh my God.

John Rabon: Yeah. I was really lucky with that. But I wasn’t lucky. I mean, I’ve been arrested eight times.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah, I don’t have that.

John Rabon: I’m a genius. Now the eighth time was not an offense. I was taken into custody, because I was on felony probation for the third DUI. I got arrested for public intoxication at my 20-year high school reunion. In a small town, which was like 5,000 people. Do you know how hard it is to get arrested in a town of 5,000? It’s apparently very easy.

KiKi Maroon: Oh my God. Haha.

John Rabon: For me, yeah. 

KiKi Maroon: What were you doing?

John Rabon: I was in the front yard of my mom’s house and…

KiKi Maroon: That’s questionable.

John Rabon: That’s how drunk I was. They took me to jail in Lockhart, which is 14 miles away. They took me 14 miles there instead of walking me 14 feet into my mom’s house and knocking on the door.

KiKi Maroon: But if you’re in the yard, how is that public intoxication? Isn’t that private?

John Rabon: Because I was yelling at people in the street. They tell me. Which I believe.

KiKi Maroon: That’s private property, I think.

John Rabon: Yeah. But not when you’re out in the street. I’m pretty sure I was out in the street because I didn’t want to smoke in the yard. I don’t know.

KiKi Maroon: After all those trucks, it was sitting in a yard that got you.

John Rabon: Yeah, that was the thing that revoked my probation. I spent six months in County. Five months of that was a Travis County treatment program, which is like “Jail Light.” It’s like, “Hey, read this literature. Oh, and you get to have basic cable.” That was their treatment program. They had basic cable. And the thing is, that five months in treatment in jail – six months away from everybody- that solidified my not-drinking. And also it cured me of watching TV. I came out of there and I was like, “I don’t want to watch anymore. I’m not watching any more sitcoms. I’m not watching any more TV. I’m not watching any more reality shows.” It cured me.

KiKi Maroon: Haha. I feel like every time I went to go see my probation officer – you know, they have the TVs in the waiting room?

John Rabon: Yeah.

KiKi Maroon: It was always Wendy Williams or one of those morning shows. I’m like, “Why?!” I feel like those are just for government offices.

John Rabon: Yeah. They have them on when you go visit any kind of doctor.

KiKi Maroon: Or like, “The Doctors” is playing.

John Rabon: Yeah. I don’t know who watches. Bored housewives and people going to medical appointments? That’s the only thing I can think of, and people going to see their POs, I guess.

KiKi Maroon: I love that that helped you.

John Rabon: Yeah.

KiKi Maroon: That’s great news.

John Rabon: When people ask, “How did you quit…”  I tried A.A. several times, but what I’ve told people is, “If you think that you’re too smart for A.A…” really, it goes back to the mental thing. “If you can’t buyinto the bullshit, it’s not going to work.”

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. It doesn’t do it.

John Rabon: No.

KiKi Maroon: I actually didn’t go to A.A. at first. I just started going to meetings. I quit without meetings. I was like, “No, I don’t want to do all that.” I always heard, “That’s God stuff,” or whatever. And so yeah, it was a while into my sobriety before I wanted to try it. And even then, I was just traveling for work, show stuff.

John Rabon: Right.

KiKi Maroon: And so, it was more of like, “I’m kind of lonely. I don’t have anybody to talk to. I heard there’s always meetings,” but I found out I really liked it.

John Rabon: Yeah. From the outside point of view, it looks kind of cultish because they all use the same language, but that’s just what people do. It’s, you know, the same catchphrases. And also, yeah, the “higher power” thing really freaks people out. 

KiKi Maroon: A lot of people. 

John Rabon: I think that’s nitpicky. It’s really not that, I think it’s just one of those things that they haven’t reformed; they haven’t changed anything. I mean, they haven’t. It’s been what, 80-something years A.A.’s been around?

KiKi Maroon: They changed the verbiage to “higher power” later on, because it used to be “God.” Like, God everything. And now they say, “Okay, whatever your thing is.”

John Rabon: Right and I think “higher power” still needs to be changed. I don’t know what they need to say, but they just need to highlight that the whole point is that you are not able to do this on your own, with just willpower. You have to go outside of yourself, which is absolutely true. However, being completely powerless is also a bullshit thing because if you’re completely powerless, then you’ve got no chance at all.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah, then why bother? Yeah. A really good friend of mine has never been to a meeting, and that’s his thing, which I totally get. He’s like, “I don’t want anybody to tell me that I’m powerless.” So nothing else they say has any value to him at all. Because, “How fucking dare you? You say that I’m powerless?”

John Rabon: Yeah. “Fuck you.” That thing that we have where we’re like, “Fuck you, I got this!”

KiKi Maroon: Yeah.

John Rabon: “You can’t tell me what to do!” 

KiKi Maroon: Yes, it’s the story of my life. Goddamn it. Now, I’m like, “Just fucking tell me! I’m tired of trying to figure it out.”

John Rabon: I love when … I’ll try to give advice as much as possible or, you know, really the biggest thing to do is to listen to people when they need to get it out. Just relate and say, “I got you.”

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. That’s my biggest thing, hearing other people and relating, like, “Okay, yeah, I’m not a psycho.”

John Rabon: Right, right. The advice thing is weird because I can’t tell people, “Well, let me tell you what I did. I didn’t die, and I stayed alive until about 40, and then I went to jail for six months. So, if you can do that…” That’s not a recovery program everybody needs to go out and try, that’s just how it happened for me.

KiKi Maroon: Haha. That’s why I love doing this. I just started this podcast. And at first in my head, the idea was like, “Oh, we’re trying to break this common misconception that most artists have about this one thing.” Then everybody I talked to, like, nobody has the same fucking story.

John Rabon: Right.

KiKi Maroon: Everybody’s story is so completely different. So, it’s not even about misconceptions anymore. It’s like, “Okay, what the fuck happened to you? Just talk about that.”

John Rabon: Yeah. I’ve always been curious about meeting people and finding out the how. When you find out somebody’s sober, everyone wants to hear the really fun self-destruction stories because those are the most interesting. I get that, but I’m at the point in my life now where I’m more interested in, “How did you do it? Like what, you know, how did you…This is going to sound crazy, but what I ended up doing instead of following the 12 steps is- a combination of the eightfold path of Buddhism and then concepts from Fight Club. Which sounds crazy.

KiKi Maroon: That sounds amazing!

John Rabon: That’s why I have all the Fight Club art. And, like an insane person, I actually have a copy of Fight Club with highlighted things in it, like it’s my Bible.

KiKi Maroon: That’s amazing! Hahaha your little preacher notes on the side.

John Rabon: Yeah. Well, you can tell because I’m that age, you know, I’m 44. So, when that movie came out, I was one of those people that had an office job and was in an unhappy marriage. So, it really meant something to me.

KiKi Maroon: It spoke to you.

John Rabon: Yeah, it was that and the movie “Office Space,” which is why I became a dishwasher. I basically did what Peter does at the end of “Office Space” – just went and did a physical labor job instead of being in a cubicle. And that’s why I still do it after seven years. I mean, at some point I’m going to go, “Oh my back hurts,” probably, but that’s…

KiKi Maroon: Yeah, but right now, it’s about freedom and you’re focusing on what you’re doing, not on trying to build up a company.

John Rabon: Yeah. So, I basically just took little things, you know? And when I say Fight Club, I obviously mean the first half, not the, you know, downward-spiral-Project-Mayhem-let’s-destroy-the-world part. But more just the changing your life and getting out of the…

KiKi Maroon: Can I see one of the highlighted passages?

John Rabon: Let me see.

KiKi Maroon: That is really interesting.

John Rabon: “If I don’t fall all the way, I can’t be saved. I can’t just abandon money and property and knowledge. This isn’t a weekend retreat. If you lose your nerve before you hit the bottom, you’ll never really succeed. And it’s only after you’ve lost everything that you’re free to do anything.”

KiKi Maroon: Oh my God.

John Rabon: “What you’re feeling is premature enlightenment.” You know, that kind of stuff, which is in the movie. But when you look at it from a point of view, especially when you go to rehab and you’ve just lost everything for the second time. For me, it was like, “Holy shit. I did it again.” When I went to jail for six months, I was in this small apartment, renting a room from a guy, I didn’t have much anyway. So, the second time around, losing things wasn’t that big of a deal. They were revoking my probation. So, I had to turn myself back in. I had to come back to Austin to go to jail. I left my life in San Antonio, came back, got locked up for six months. I was locked up for my birthday, for Halloween, for Thanksgiving, for Christmas, for New Year’s, for Valentine’s Day – all of that. Which, let me tell you, it was one of the best Christmas holidays ever because I didn’t have to buy gifts for anybody. I didn’t have to see anybody and people mailed me books. I read like 30 books. I had stopped drinking about a month before I went in at some point; I don’t know my exact sobriety date. So I made it my mom’s birthday, because I went to jail on my mom’s birthday.

KiKi Maroon: Oh, happy birthday mom.

John Rabon: Yeah. So that was my sobriety date. So that her birthday would be another year of my sobriety, every time.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah, I kind of made mine up. I know-ish when it was, but honestly it had not-stuck so many times. There was not a thought of, “Yeah, this gonna be an important date.”

John Rabon: Right.

KiKi Maroon: That’s so interesting.

John Rabon: But that was the thing, when looking at Fight Club, people read different things into that movie because you can. But when you look at it from a point of view of, “Alright, I’m at bottom, I don’t have anything. Nothing’s tying me down. I can do whatever I want now. Let’s start over and let’s rebuild from that point.” And then you have six months to do jack shit. Let’s figure things out and just be alone with you and your thoughts and moving forward.

KiKi Maroon: That sounds like a gift, honestly.

John Rabon: It really was. I mean, that’s where I just started over. This is even crazier. My biggest problem was, because I was a nerdy kid growing up, being cool really meant a lot to me. More important than anything in the world.

KiKi Maroon: I understand that. Oh, I have stories for you!

John Rabon: Yeah. I think that’s what hooked me with the bar life, because I was addicted to bars more than I was alcohol.

KiKi Maroon: Yes!

John Rabon: You know what I mean, right?

KiKi Maroon: I absolutely know what you mean, yes! I grew up in San Antonio. I started on the north side where I was the only brown girl because that was the white side of town.

John Rabon: Right.

KiKi Maroon: So I was made fun of up there. Then moved to the southwest side, where then I was the “coconut white girl” because I didn’t speak Spanish. So then, they didn’t like me either.

John Rabon: Right.

KiKi Maroon: And then I got into high school and became all super-goth because I was super depressed. Two suicide attempts.

John Rabon: Damn.

KiKi Maroon: And then moved to Florida, then to Houston. I got the attitude of, “I’m going to be this totally different person.” And then suddenly, I had friends! And I was like, “What fuck is going on here?”

John Rabon: Right.

KiKi Maroon: I started performing, I’m doing this bar thing, performing, taking pictures with people and- Oh my God! My mailing list hit like 50 people and I was like, “Lindsay Lohan downward spiral!” I couldn’t handle having friends.

John Rabon: Right. No, absolutely.

KiKi Maroon: “Oh my God, I get to go to this place and I’m talking to all of these people and we’re getting drunk and we’re having a good time” and ‘Oh my God, they like me!’” That’s what it was.

John Rabon: Yeah. And I think because with performing, all of a sudden feeling like a rock star, even though you don’t have rock star money. Which is never good – the rock star lifestyle without the money, it’s a little tough.

KiKi Maroon: So, had you started stand-up? Or, what was it like chronologically?

John Rabon: The stand-up that I had done before moving to Austin was just summer camp stuff, talent shows.

KiKi Maroon: Okay.

John Rabon: Which I just destroyed every time I did any kind of dumb talent show, or any kind of thing. I’m like, “Look how hilarious I am!” So doing it in an actual comedy club in front of people who don’t give a shit, it was a little sobering. But they both started off, comedy and drinking, about the same time. So, they were connected together.

KiKi Maroon: Okay.

John Rabon: You know, you’re drinking at home while you’re writing and stuff and getting ready. Then you have a couple of drinks before you get on stage, and then, you know, it’s just fused together.

KiKi Maroon: And then once you’re off stage, “Well, I can drink because I’m done now.”

John Rabon: “Now I’m done. Yeah. Now I can really start drinking.” Yeah. So, they were together, but enjoying being “cool” or wanting to be cool so bad. The thing that really solidified why I’m going to be sober for six years in September – is that I was able to convince myself that I’m at the age where it’s way cooler to be an ex-junkie. Like, “That guy used to do heroin. Now he’s like an urban monk.” That, to me, was way cooler than being the 40-something-year-old in a bar that’s just still there. That guy. You know, how Doug Stanhope has a joke – the bar always stays 22. No matter how much older you get, the bar is always 22-years-old.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah.

John Rabon: Just the idea of people looking at me, going, “Ugh.” Haha.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. That’s so interesting. So, my second birthday after not-drinking… The first birthday, I didn’t even have time to process things because it was just constant, “Don’t drink, don’t drink, don’t drink. No drinking,” you know? So, I didn’t have any insight for the first year. And then afterwards, I started like fucking 15 years’ worth of learning how to handle emotions and feelings all came rushing to my head, it was intense.

John Rabon: That sucks, doesn’t it?

KiKi Maroon: Oh my God. I had to feel my feelings. I don’t know how to do that!

John Rabon: Suddenly you’re mourning people that have been dead for years. It just hits you that people are dead. You’re missing different people. And you’re like, “I never even dealt with this.” All that kind of shit.

KiKi Maroon: All of it comes rushing in, and it’s been bizarre! I’m still in that process where, I’m 34 and I’m just learning, “What is ‘being sad’?”

John Rabon: Right.

KiKi Maroon: It’s been a lot, but then it’s also this super fast-forward where, because I’m learning these things and when something happens, it’s a little domino knocking things over my head. I’m like, “Oh, I think this because this thing happened, because my dad said this when I was little, because blah, blah, blah, and THAT’S why I feel this way right now! Got it.”

John Rabon: Yeah.

KiKi Maroon: It’s bizarre. So yeah, second birthday after sobriety, I kind of had a breakdown. Previously, I would throw these massive parties and there would be piñatas filled with tequila, and strippers, and bouncy houses. I always wanted to create these experiences.

John Rabon: Right.

KiKi Maroon: That was my job. I loved it. And so, I was like, “I don’t know what to do…” I tried to still do it the first year, just to prove that I’m not different. And it sucked because I made this awesome thing for everybody but me. I hated it. So then the next year, I was like, “I don’t know what to do or how to do it.” Which turned into a whole mindfuck of, “Who am I?! What am I doing?! I don’t even know what I am!” And one of my very best friends, Honey Moonpie, I was texting her all this stuff, she was like, “Your aspirations are  to be more than, ‘Man, that girl can rage.’” That’s what it was for the longest time; that was the goal: being that girl.

John Rabon: Yeah.

KiKi Maroon: But yeah, realizing, “No, I think it’s way cooler to be this other person. I’m happier being this other person. This means more.” I could keep going that way, but I’m going to be that washed-up girl, flashing people at the bar because Journey comes on like, “Okay, grandma, put your shirt down.”

John Rabon: Hahaha, right.

KiKi Maroon: That’s not cool.

John Rabon: That’s not cool.

KiKi Maroon: You know who I’m talking about!

John Rabon: I do know who you are talking about, yeah. Haha.

KiKi Maroon: Haha. That was my other option.

John Rabon: Just like, “I see where this is going…” Yeah.

KiKi Maroon: Okay. So, Fight Club. I just think that’s amazing because everybody else I’ve been talking to has just been naming different programs or books, and that’s a completely different one. I haven’t heard that one from anybody.

John Rabon: Fight Club changed my life twice. It changed my life at the time because it was what made me think that I didn’t want to just sit here in the suburbs, in a marriage I wasn’t happy with. “Oh occasionally, I’ll do comedy.” I’ll go out about once every couple of weeks, but eventually stop doing it. “I guess I live in the suburbs now. I guess I’m a husband. Maybe someday father,” I don’t know. Just a life I didn’t want. I got married when I was 25, I got started a little early.

KiKi Maroon: That’s late for San Antonio. 

John Rabon: That’s late for a lot of people. But for me, I think I would have self-destructed – getting married actually put self-destruction on hold for me. I think that’s what happened. I think it stopped it, like, “Self-destruction, Interrupted.” I don’t know. Haha. But that movie, and then the book, just the idea of, “This is your life and it’s ending one minute at a time.” Just from that point of view. Okay, I’m not going to start beating up my friends. I’m not going to literally follow this. But… it started my mental process of getting out of the situation that I had put myself in, by just going along with the flow. I didn’t make good decisions. I didn’t work on my marriage; I waited until it was at a breaking point, because I got two DWIs in two months.

KiKi Maroon: Oh, wow. Oh my God.

John Rabon: Which, if you’re going to get two DUIs, that’s the best time because you haven’t been convicted for the first one yet. So then, they just kind of put them both together.

KiKi Maroon: Oh my God!

John Rabon: I’m not recommending you get arrested twice, but if you have to get two DUIs, try to do it together. Haha.

KiKi Maroon: I always would say, “Probation sucked so goddamn much. I don’t understand how people do this more than once.”

John Rabon: Yeah. Right.

KiKi Maroon: And yet you did.

John Rabon: Yeah.

KiKi Maroon: I mean, not that I quit drinking on probation. I did all the things. I was just on Google, you know, “How long does coke stay in your system?”

John Rabon: Right.

KiKi Maroon: I was just trying to plan my stuff out.

John Rabon: Yeah.

KiKi Maroon: Even before I quit drinking, I knew I was never going to drink and drive because it was just so goddamn awful to have to answer to somebody.

John Rabon: Yeah.

KiKi Maroon: That’s bananas to me. And you got that twice, or three times.

John Rabon: Man, not to sound like a bitter old man, but the fact that rideshares like Lyft and Uber came out after I got sober, that was so infuriating to me. I’m like, “You got to be fucking kidding me. You mean you can get home for $5 now?” I’m so angry. Like, just so upset that that’s the way it is. So upset that that’s the way it’s gone down.

KiKi Maroon: We were talking about money grabs. Houston got rid of Uber and Lyft for a little while. They were talking about how DWIs and DUIs went down something crazy, like 70%. Then they left and it went right back up! It was like, “This is a safety issue! Can you please?” It’s not just about the money that you’re losing (from DWI fees).

John Rabon: Right.

KiKi Maroon: It’s ridiculous how much it saved people.

John Rabon: Yeah. So that was kind of frustrating. I was like, “Are you fucking kidding me?” 

KiKi Maroon: “These kids…” 

John Rabon: “These kids today…”

KiKi Maroon: So when you quit, did you know anybody that was sober? Because that’s also part of what I think is interesting, is I only knew one person. The lovely Mr. Andy Huggins, who I talked to earlier. Do you know Andy, by chance?

John Rabon: No, I don’t. But I absolutely know who Andy Huggins is. I’ve only met him once.

KiKi Maroon: Okay. So Andy was the only sober person I had ever met, which was amazing. But you know, I’m like a 25-year-old stripping clown. I did not relateto 70-year-old Andy.

John Rabon: Yeah, right.

KiKi Maroon: So, it didn’t seem like it was an option for a really long time. I’m like, “No. Being sober? That’s not a thingpeople do.”

John Rabon: Right.

KiKi Maroon: So, I’m always interested in knowing if people had support. Did you have other friends or comics or anybody that you knew?

John Rabon: Not comics. I made some friends in the rehab in San Antonio and I made some friends in the SMART Program (substance abuse treatment) in Travis County. So, I did make friends in those, but I’ll tell you, the thing about being locked up with terrible people at their worst… Six months in Travis County. Then I lived in a sober house for probably eight months.

KiKi Maroon: So, you were immersive.

John Rabon: Yeah, I was aroundstruggling people. I was around them way too much. I was like, “I don’t want to be around these people.” And I realized, “I’m also one of these people. I don’t want to be around me this much.” But… I was doing really well. And I was around people who were not doing well, because they were struggling, some of them. So a comedian buddy of mine – who lived here in this apartment that we’re recording in – before he moved to New York, he needed to save money, so he wanted a roommate. So he got me to come here. I’ve been here in this apartment for four and a half years because at that time, I was like, “I want to be around normal people. I want to be around normies. I’m done.” 

KiKi Maroon: But was it weird being around normal people? Because, I mean, they’re going to drink, you know?

John Rabon: Yeah.

KiKi Maroon: They always ask, “Can I drink around you?”

John Rabon: Well, that was the agreement I had with my friend Blake. The agreement was, “I don’t bring booze home. I drink out there, and I promise I won’t do coke here.” And I went, “Okay, good!” My immediate reaction was, “I’m not a coke guy,” but also, “Oh, thank you.” He’s being considerate. That’s a good idea. But I don’t know. I didn’t go out and do comedy for a while, but I had started getting back into comedy and that’s why I was ready to be around regular people. But the thing was that it still took me another year or two to understand what “being social” was. I just couldn’t.  I used to use the excuse that like, “I gotta get out of here,” and they’re like, “Oh no, he’s thinking about drinking.” No, I just find people annoying now. Haha.

KiKi Maroon: That’s exactly what Andy told me! Haha! He’s like, “I’ve got an escape now. It’s great.”

John Rabon: It’s like, “I gotta go. I’m thinking about drinking.” But that’s not really it. It’s just like, “You guys are really fucking annoying and the only way I can be around you assholes is if I’m drinking.” I can’t be like, “You guys are really bugging the shit out of me. I’m going to go.” It’s a great excuse. 

Like, “Hey, we’re going to…” 

“Nah. I can’t do it, man. You know, it’s kind of triggering slash I don’t want to. It sounds terrible. No way am I going to do that.”

KiKi Maroon: You have to learn how to talk to people all over again. And that’s something I didn’t know how to do. 

John Rabon: It sucks so bad. Hahaha!

KiKi Maroon: Oh my God, yes! I mean, strangers, fucking strangers, man. I’m like, “How do you speak to each other if you’re not holding each other’s hair back in the restroom?” That’s a girl-restroom thing.  I feel like I fucked up because everybody else tells me they kind of did what you did. They stepped away and then they could kind of dabble in.

John Rabon: Just kind of ease in. Yeah.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. I associated drinking with my stage persona. So when I quit, I was like, “No, I’m not going to be different. I’m not going to be one of those assholes.”

John Rabon: Right.

KiKi Maroon: And so, I went to bars just as much, if not more,to still keep doing what I was doing to prove it wasn’t going to change me. It wasn’t going to change my life. This is a thing that I’m just choosing to do.

John Rabon: Yeah.

KiKi Maroon: So, I was at bars, shows and clubs all the time, hating my fucking life because I’m like, “I don’t know how to do this. I don’t like these people.” I was so in my own head, fucking hating everybody around me.

John Rabon: Just resenting everybody. “You normal drinking motherfucker.” 

KiKi Maroon: I just had to provethat I could do it. And I still don’t really know how to talk to people, at all. I always need to have a bubble of people I actually know around me so that I have a buffer. And then I can slowly be like, “Oh, hello! And who are you?”

John Rabon: I think that one of the biggest criticisms I have about rehab 30-day rehabs are bullshit. But a 90-day, honest rehab is pretty effective because it gets you away from all that shit and brings your thoughts back. And what they’re doing for 90 days is trying to pull the honesty out of you, because you’ve been lying to everybody, and to yourself. You’re pathological as fuck. So they break you down. They get you in therapy, whether it’s individual or group or whatever. And you start becoming really honest, but almost too honest. And then they throw you out, like, “Well, we got to get you back out there.” But they don’t pull the honesty back! So then they throw you out to a society that lies to itself to get by. Where people cover up their feelings with small talk, which, I mean, you need to; you can’t have everybody super honest all the time. That’s insane!

KiKi Maroon: Well, I try it.

John Rabon: So you go out and they’re like, “How are you today?” And I’m like, “Oh, I’m just struggling with the inevitability of my own death… Yeah, I’ll have a latte.” You’re just talking to a barista and you’re just being a dick. “Have you ever thought about it? Is there anything out there? Yeah. Yeah. Cream.” You don’t want to do that! So it took a while to kind of reel it back. “Oh, maybe I shouldn’t tell people I’m a heroin addict in the first 30 seconds of meeting them, maybe that’s not a good idea.”

KiKi Maroon: You are blowing my fucking mind right now because I thought it was just because I was a performer.

John Rabon: Right.

KiKi Maroon:  Like, “I’m just super honesty because it’s my job to be honest on stage. So when I’m off, I just am that.” But now you’re making me realize…

John Rabon: It might be a little bit of that. It’s probably both, it’s a dangerous combination.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. “I’m just going through all this stuff right now. And I’m thinking about my three exes and how fucked up they were, but also, Hi!”

John Rabon: But also, “Hello!” Yeah.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. Okay. I think that if you’re trying to be functional at a regular job… you’re not gonna with that mentality. So, I totally get it.

John Rabon: Right.

KiKi Maroon: But in regular, social, coffee, and all those different modes – I love it. Because I think that other people’s walls start to break down, because they’re so confused by how honest you are.

John Rabon: Right.

KiKi Maroon: And then maybe – I don’t know about being open and honest about heroin – but for a long time, with the stripping clown thing, I think it was so goddamn stupid that people knew I couldn’t judge them. Like, it was not possible.

John Rabon: Right.

KiKi Maroon: And so they would be completely honest about dumb shit, or anything, with me because a fucking naked clown can’t judge them.

John Rabon: Right. Yeah, that’s true. I think it’s not so much pulling back on honesty; I think it’s pulling back on using judgment as to when to not be abrasive. I think that’s more the thing. But I like remaining honest because it just feels easier. You’re not lying. You don’t have to remember lies. You can just go, “Eh.” Haha.

KiKi Maroon: So this podcast is a partly my therapy where I’m like, “Hey, you’ve been sober longer. Explain this to me.”

John Rabon: Yeah.

KiKi Maroon: So, I am still like- lie to myself, lie to myself, and then later on, “Oh wait, that’s that thing I’m doing!.” And so, I’m catching it, which is great.

John Rabon: That is good, yeah.

KiKi Maroon: So… I got sober while in a relationship.

John Rabon: Oh, shit!

KiKi Maroon: Yeaaah. So, then we broke up and I was like, “No! I’m not going to go back to drinking.” Honestly because, “I’m not going to give him that fucking power.” I’m just spiteful with everything.

John Rabon: Spiteful sobriety. “Fuck you, I’m not drinking. Yeah. I’ll show you! I’m not going to destroy my life! That’ll teach him.” Hahaha!

KiKi Maroon: Haha it made sense at the time, I promise!

John Rabon: Hey, whatever works, you know? Haha.

KiKi Maroon: So, it’s 10 or11 months out of that, right? I went through a depression afterwards. And then out of depression, I’m like… I don’t know how to date sober. I never did that. I don’t know. I never went on dates. I just met a guy at a bar, we fucked, and I never saw him again, or I saw him for, like, five years.

John Rabon: Right.

KiKi Maroon: That’s how I dated. So it’s been very weird for me.

John Rabon: Yeah.

KiKi Maroon: So I went on my first date thing with someone. He asked, “Hey, want to go for coffee?” I was like, “Fine, let’s get this over with.” This is so TMI – went to a dinner thing afterwards and I ended up like, “Okay, I remember how to kiss. I think I remember how to kiss. I can do this! I can do this!” And I forced myself to make out with him in the car. Because I was like, “I can do this, goddamn it!” But it was a mindfuck! “Drunk me would have had my hand down his pants already! What’s wrong with me?! I don’t remember how to fuck. I don’t remember how to do any of these things. Who am I anymore?!”

John Rabon: Right.

KiKi Maroon: And then the next day it hit me! “Oh, I don’t like him.”

John Rabon: “Oh, that’s what it is. There’s no chemistry there.”

KiKi Maroon: None at all! But all that entire night, I had an existential crisis, “Do I even remember how to have sex anymore? I don’t even know how to do this thing. Who am I?!” All that stuff. It took 24 hours for me to realize I just am not attracted to somebody.

John Rabon: Yeah, no, I can totally relate to that. 

KiKi Maroon: That’s it. I’m just telling you my problems.

John Rabon: There were a couple of times where I was hanging out with someone, and I had been sober for a couple of years, but there were a couple of times that they were obviously very attractive, but there was no chemistry. So I thought there was something wrong with me.

KiKi Maroon: Exactly. Yeah.

John Rabon: I’m like, “Oh man, is my libido gone already?” Which, there is a little bit of that because I’m in my forties. But also, no, it was a lack of chemistry. I’m approaching a one-year relationship with my girlfriend. 

KiKi Maroon: Awesome! 

John Rabon: But before that, I was single for three years.

KiKi Maroon: Because yeah, you don’t know what chemistry feels like because you’re not drunk. That’s what chemistry was before!

John Rabon: Right. And also, the online dating thing was bullshit. I was just like, “Man, Tinder doesn’t work for sober people. What the fuck?”

KiKi Maroon: The very first question is always, “Wanna get a drink?”

John Rabon: Yeah!

KiKi Maroon: Very first fucking question.

John Rabon: Dating for me was also just hooking up because of something that happened in a bar. Just kind of casually not paying attention and all of a sudden, I’m talking to a girl and we’re hanging out.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah, very passively. 

John Rabon: And then going, “Oh, I’m in a relationship! Okay. This is how that happens. Stop trying to overthink it.” So then, I tried online dating. I found out, because I asked a female comedian friend of mine, I was like, “Why? What’s this thing with Tinder? Why do I get all these match-ups and then they don’t message me?” And she was like, “Oh, they’re doing it for self-esteem. They’re doing it for likes.”

KiKi Maroon: Oh! 

John Rabon: People will swipe right, like, “Oh, look at all these guys that match up with me.” 

KiKi Maroon: Like, “Look, I got 1,000 people…”

John Rabon: “But I don’t want to talk to them.”

KiKi Maroon: That is so mean!

John Rabon: Goddamn new generation… Haha.

KiKi Maroon: That is awful.

John Rabon: I didn’t know that that was a thing. But apparently, that’s a thing.

KiKi Maroon: Just a self-esteem boost.

John Rabon: But also, I was way too honest on my profile because I didn’t want to go through that. I was still getting matched with people that didn’t read it. I went on one date from Tinder and she absolutely did not read anything that I wrote on there. I could tell, because I was talking to her, we were having coffee and I told her that I was a dishwasher and that I didn’t drink, and I could see her checking out in her eyes. 

KiKi Maroon: Haha, oh no!

John Rabon: I was like, “Yeah, this is not gonna work.” And then about 10 minutes later, she told me that she couldn’t wait to start working in an office again. Like, she wanted to be part of an office. She was working from home and also volunteering at a nonprofit, both are things that I’m like, “That’s fucking awesome!” But she was tired of it and wanted to go back to working in an office. So, I did that with my eyes where I checked out and went, “Man, fuck this.” So, we’re like, “Oh, okay, well I guess message me.” “Yeah. Sure.” We didn’t message each other. But that was funny. I completely got turned off from her, as she did with me. “What, you like an office? All right. Yeah. Good luck with all that.” Ugh.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. I don’t know. My profile says that I don’t drink, but I think a lot of people don’t read those things, because I get the, “Hey, want to get a drink?” messages. And so, I just turned them off. 

John Rabon: Yeah. You can tell. I can’t believe nobody’s going to want to get a Topo Chico? At least, that way…

KiKi Maroon: That would require them reading it.

John Rabon: Right. No one’s reading.

KiKi Maroon: That’s the thing. No one’s reading those things. So, I’m trying to just accept being alone forever. I guess that’s the stage I’m in right now. Like, “Oh, okay. This just sucks.”

John Rabon: That’s why I retired. I said, “Well, I guess I’m retired. I guess this is it. I guess I don’t have to do this anymore. That’s fine. I don’t need any of that.”

KiKi Maroon: Yeah.

John Rabon: “I had a good run.” But the thing is, at least for me, is that’s when it happens. It’s always when I’m not looking. But you can’t go, ::eyes darting back and forth:: “I’m going to not look.” 

KiKi Maroon: Shifty eyes.

John Rabon: Shifty eyes – “I’m not waiting for that match-up. Because I’m not looking.” It’s when you’re just going like, “Eh, I’m fine.”

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. I assume it’s harder for a guy, at least in today’s current climate

John Rabon: “In today’s current climate…”

KiKi Maroon: Because I’m fine. If you drink, I don’t care. It’s my thing. I don’t want to babysit somebody, but if the guy drinks, I don’t give a shit.

John Rabon: Yeah.

KiKi Maroon: But I also don’t have the fear of being accused of rape because, you were drunk and I was sober and we had sex.

John Rabon: Right. Yeah.

KiKi Maroon: So thankfully, that’s something I hope I won’t have to deal with. I imagine, for sober guys, that is a whole other level they’ve got to factor in. I don’t know if that’s something you’ve had to deal with or not.

John Rabon: I did not have to deal with that, luckily. 

KiKi Maroon: Okay, good.

John Rabon: But that’s a really interesting question about the thought, because I have thought about it. Like a lot of guys, I’m assuming, have thought about themselves in the past. With the Me Too Movement, just thinking about things in the past. I don’t have any terrible moments. But I do have bar hookups, where at no point was the thought of… I mean, “We’re both active in this decision, but how drunk are we?” Anything like that. It’s just different, you know, it was a different time, but also a different mindset. You’re thinking about it now. And boy, I’m really glad that I’m not like who I was when I was out of control, just doing whatever.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. I have super mixed feelings about everything. There’s a lot that I’m like- Yes, absolutely. These things have been problems that need to change.

John Rabon: Yeah.

KiKi Maroon: I also think, when it comes to drunken – when both people are drunk and it is consensual at that point – the idea that it can still be put under the same category, is a problem. We need a different phrase for it. I think this is a terminology situation. To say that that can still be called “rape” is concerning to me.

John Rabon: Right.

KiKi Maroon: I just think we need a different word for that, especially when it’s both parties – when it’s double consensual. So when I flipped the car, I couldn’t say, “I was drunk. It wasn’t my fault.”

John Rabon: Right.

KiKi Maroon: And yet if I do that, I’m allowed to say, “I was drunk. That wasn’t my fault.” That doesn’t line up for me.

John Rabon: Yeah. I think that the pendulum has to swing. I think that things have been fucked up for women for so long that this is the swing in the opposite direction, to where it scares a lot of guys – rightfully so.

KiKi Maroon: Exactly. Yeah.

John Rabon: But also, kind of, “Fuck you, guys.” It’s like, “Oh no, your diamond- soled shoes are too tight.” That kind of shit. But also, there are legitimate concerns there. And I think that it’s gonna swing. It’s swinging back. People are saying, “Hang on…” about a lot of things. But it’s still a good thing. 

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. I use the pendulum analogy often for it. Because I think that’s exactly what it is. 

John Rabon: Oh really? Nice.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah, I think it’s exactly what it is. And that right now, we are super over-correcting. And that is what’s going to take us to the middle.

John Rabon: Yeah.

KiKi Maroon: I’m just like, “Okay, come on, Middle!”

John Rabon: “Come on, Middle.” It’s just, it’s hard to be middle and reasonable with the current climate, politically. Hahaha

KiKi Maroon: I’d like to think most people are middle and reasonable. They’re just the quiet people. Because they’re off living their lives.

John Rabon: Right.

KiKi Maroon: I’d like to think.

John Rabon: Right. It’s also one of the biggest frustrations – and this is totally off the topic – but one of the biggest things I like about being honest in public is, people are really, so goddamn smart online. Aren’t they? Because everybody has Google. Whenever anybody posts something that’s really knowledgeable, I go, “Oh look, somebody can use a search engine really well.” Because you don’t see that kind of back and forth, intelligent, informed conversation in person anymore.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah, you don’t have all those stats in your brain.

John Rabon: Yeah, exactly. “Let me tell you what I just read!” It’s just, “What the fuck?” Haha.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah.

John Rabon: I don’t know. It’s just… I like being honest in public, because I like people to get their nose out of their phone. Just, engage.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. I like telling people, “I don’t know,” – even mid-conversation. 

John Rabon: Oh that feels great, doesn’t it? It’s like, “Yeah. I don’t know.”

KiKi Maroon: I love it! “I don’t know.” Yeah. Or if people, mid-conversation, use a word that I don’t understand, I ask, “Can you please define that?” I love being stupid. I’m like, “Okay, let’s talk about this thing now,” because, one, it’s more conversation, but two, I’m not afraid to ask. And I think that’s why I learned so much more.

John Rabon: Right. That’s how you learn instead of just parroting things that you’ll forget the next day. Like, “I learned this for the hour that it takes to debate on a Facebook thread.”

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. I listen to a lot of podcasts, so most of my conversations or statements start with, “Okay, so I heard on a podcast, don’t remember which one, don’t know if this is true…”

John Rabon: Right.

KiKi Maroon: “But according to something.”

John Rabon: “This feels true…” “That guy said it…”

KiKi Maroon: “Somebody, one time… and he said that he heard this one thing…”

John Rabon: “Cite your sources!” “Oh, Pod Save America podcast? That’s not a source!”

KiKi Maroon: Haha. I start it off with all of that because I did want to be fair- this may not be true. But like… by the way in Austin, when I got here today, I was like, “Oh my God, I haven’t heard the…” – what do you call them? The bugs outside? 

John Rabon: Oh, the cicadas?

KiKi Maroon: Yes, yes! “I haven’t heard those in years!” They’re so, so loud! I love it. An ex, a long time ago, told me about how they’re really crazy weird. That they burrow underground for like seven years before they are born or something. That sounds fake! So, I’m scared to repeat that. But also, it would be fascinating if it’s true.

John Rabon: Haha. I also have heard that. Yeah. I’ve heard that they do that.

KiKi Maroon: I like that we’re both willing to admit that we don’t know.

John Rabon: No, I don’t know. I just know that cicadas are the sound of, “Goddamn, it’s hot!” “How do you know it’s hot?” “Do you hear it?” 

KiKi Maroon: Sounds like maracas outside!

John Rabon: Yeah. That means it’s hot as shit. That’s what that means.

KiKi Maroon: Haha. Okay. So, since you quit drinking, how did that change your comedy? Because I know that you said you started at the same time.

John Rabon: Here we go! Yeah, this is what we need to get to…  

KiKi Maroon: Haha yeah it’s kind of the point!

John Rabon: I was like, “This has been a great talk. Oh yeah – comedy!” 

KiKi Maroon: “This has been a Cicada Podcast.”

John Rabon: Holy shit. Man, it was weird. It was difficult, trying to… because I hadn’t performed sober.

KiKi Maroon: Thank God! You’re the first person who has said this. And I felt like a psycho because I thought everybody would relate to this – I’d never been sober until I legally had to be.

John Rabon: Right. 

KiKi Maroon: And everybody else was like, “No, no, no, I was a lush. But on stage, of course, I would never do that.” And I felt like an asshole!

John Rabon: No, I hadn’t… so, it had been 18 years – something like that – I hadn’t been on stage sober. I started doing comedy in a club in 1997. So, from then until 2013, it always involved alcohol. Maybe I took a night off sometimes, and it probably didn’t go well. So it was weird doing it sober. Also realizing when I was getting back into it, “Well, I can’t do any of this goddamn material anymore.” Everything that I wrote for years and years was all related to booze, and sex, and sex on booze. Haha. And, you know, social commentary that doesn’t make sense anymore because it’s years later. So, it was like starting over in that aspect. It was kind of a weird adjustment.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah.

John Rabon: I don’t know. You just do like you did before. You just have to keep going and you have to keep sucking at open mic for a while. 

KiKi Maroon: You started over.

John Rabon: It felt like starting over. Also, I had dropped out of view of comedy, because I really was into staying home and doing heroin. That’s different, that is not a party drug. That’s a, “I’m staying home and nodding off,” you know? I’m going to do heroin at home. So, I left the view for a while, did the rehab and everything else. So by the time I came back into the scene, it was three and a half years later. It’s a totally different scene. 

KiKi Maroon: Yeah, especially in Austin. I’m sure.

John Rabon: Nobody knew who I was. And I was like, “Who the fuck are all these kids?” It was like getting back in and having to prove yourself again. Which was, you know… you still got that ego. “I’m John fucking Rabon, do you not know who I am? I used to rule… just this club. But that’s it.” But in my head, “the city”. So that was, I don’t know, it was interesting.

KiKi Maroon: Do you remember your first time sober on stage. Like, was it a thing?

John Rabon: I did a headlining weekend at the Velveeta Room (comedy club in Austin) in 2010, when I was really trying to be sober, so I had taken a break from heroin. I was taking a break, like, “I gotta take it easy.” So, I actually did that sober, but I was kind of strung out, so I was distracted. I wasn’t all there. I didn’t give myself enough time for my brain to start working yet, and was overthinking everything. That was really what it was. It wasn’t so much not having booze in you,  but more, “all of a sudden my brain is working again and overthinking things”. The feelings are coming and having to deal with that and the complete awareness that I didn’t have. All of a sudden, I’m aware of everything while I’m on stage. I’m all like, “Ah, who am I looking at? Who am I looking at?! Where do my eyes go? I’ve been doing this so long. What do I look at? What did I do for 15 years? What did I do? Who did I look at? Oh, I’m not going to look at that lady. She’s looking at me. I don’t think she… her arms are crossed. Oh shit. This sucks!” Like that kind of stuff.

KiKi Maroon: Haha. Yeah. There’s that whole, “I’m better drunk” mentality. It took me a long time to realize, “Oh, I wasn’t better. I just wasn’t aware when someone wasn’t laughing, or when I stumbled over a word, or stuttered, or put my foot in a weird place.” I just didn’t know those things were happening. And now… I fucking know! It drives me crazy, everything is completely been thrown off, and I go to the restroom afterwards and cry because, “Oh God, they saw it!” Haha.

John Rabon: Haha. “They saw it! They know, they all know, man.” 

KiKi Maroon: Meanwhile, I should remember, most of them are drunk. 

John Rabon: Yeah, they don’t give a shit. And they completely forget you, like at a mic – they don’t remember. They saw 15 people after you; they don’t remember you.

KiKi Maroon: I did a spot over at a sports bar an hour outside of Houston…

John Rabon: Oh, Jesus.

KiKi Maroon: …a couple of months ago. And this guy came up to me afterwards and he said, “Did you used to go up at Christian’s Tailgate?” Which is an open mic in Downtown Houston. And I was like, “Yeah, like a long time ago.” And he said, “I saw the first time you went up!” I was like, “Oh, dear God!” And he goes, “Yeah, you were talking about bird rape.” 

John Rabon: Jesus. Hahaha!

KiKi Maroon: Not only do you remember me, you remember the fucking terrible thing. I know which set you’re talking about, I know!

John Rabon: “Oh yes. That joke.” Oh my God.

KiKi Maroon: It was that bad. “You remembered how awful I was…” 

John Rabon: Hahaha. That’s… wow.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah.

John Rabon: That’s funny.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. It’s ducks, by the way, they’re very rapey. 

John Rabon: Oh, that makes sense. Yeah. I’ve actually heard that. That’s weird that I’ve heard that.

KiKi Maroon: Wait, on stage or…?

John Rabon: No, no, that’s just what I’ve heard.

KiKi Maroon: Oh, haha I was like, who the fuck is talking about ducks, too?

John Rabon: No

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. So they’re super rapey and they have corkscrew penises.

John Rabon: Damn. I’ve heard that as well. Thanks for reminding me of that. Because I usually like ducks… That’s what it was. There was somebody I knew that I told I liked ducks. They said, “I don’t.” I asked why. And they told me that they’re aggressive and about their dicks… I’m like, “How does that affect what you think about ducks?”

KiKi Maroon: Oh, it’s really crazy. They are actually raped so much, that the female ducks… see, I remember all of it! I’m not getting into the bit. I’m just telling you science.

John Rabon: Right, right.

KiKi Maroon: The female ducks have multiple passageways with dead ends. So that way, if they are being forced upon by someone they don’t want, they can kind of angle it so that…

John Rabon: Jesus.

KiKi Maroon: …it goes into a dead end instead. Yeah…It’s like a “choose your own adventure” book. Ha-cha-cha.

John Rabon: Holy shit, man. I don’t like it. 

KiKi Maroon: The joke didn’t land again… It’s like a “choose your own adventure” book!

John Rabon: Oh.

KiKi Maroon: It’s like a “choose your own adventure…”

John Rabon: I get it! No, I get it! It’s great…

KiKi Maroon: It’s still funny to me. 

John Rabon: Hahahaha.

KiKi Maroon: Haha. Well, on that note, thank you so much, John. This has been fantastic.

John Rabon: Hahahahaha. We’re gonna end on bird rape?

KiKi Maroon: Yeah, we’re going to. I want to, I really do.

John Rabon: That’s good.

KiKi Maroon: Haha. So, if people want to follow you, where can they find you online – socials, all that stuff?

John Rabon: My Instagram is @SmokePuppet.

KiKi Maroon: SmokePuppet? Haha okay.

John Rabon: That’s all one word. Because in 1997, when I started drinking, you could smoke in bars. I was smoking a cigarette and a guy told me, “You know, you’re a puppet of the tobacco industry.” And I started gut-laughing. So much so, that I made that my usernames in 1997. I’ve just kept it for 20 years. So @SmokePuppet, all one word. My podcast is called, “Yes, I’m Still Sober.”

KiKi Maroon: Yes, we’re definitely gonna send people to that.

John Rabon: And yeah, that’s it. I have a Twitter that I never use.

KiKi Maroon: Yes, I found it when I was trying to track you down. I saw that I was like, “He’s not going to see this.”

John Rabon: I don’t ever use Twitter. I think it’s garbage, but I’m still there! In case you want to follow me! Haha.

KiKi Maroon: I’ll follow you, John. I’ll follow you. Right, so, just throwing this out there – I might totally cut this out – I had a final ask because I listen to too many podcasts. They all do a final question that they ask all the guests.

John Rabon: Okay.

KiKi Maroon: It sounds really forced when I do it. So, I think I’m going to drop it… But I kind of like it. So, okay, do you want me to tell you the questions, so you can see how forced it is?

John Rabon: Yeah. Let’s do it.

KiKi Maroon: Okay. So, these are the final two questions.

John Rabon: Alright.

KiKi Maroon: If you could snap your fingers and people around the world instantly believed two things, what would it be? One has to be for the good of humanity, because we’re good people. The other one has to be completely self-serving.

John Rabon: That everybody’s life is hard.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah.

John Rabon: Not just your own. That empathy isn’t a competition.

KiKi Maroon: I like that a lot.

John Rabon: Yeah, you don’t have to suffer more than somebody. You can have empathy for somebody who suffers, even if you’ve suffered more. It doesn’t matter just because they haven’t had it as hard. It’s still a hard life.

KiKi Maroon: Yeah.

John Rabon: Life still sucks for people all the time. For all people.

KiKi Maroon: Is that Buddhism or is that Fight Club?

John Rabon: That’s Rabonism! No, I don’t know. That’s a combination. The empathy definitely comes from Buddhism. And just from life, I guess. And then the self-serving thing. I don’t care… 

KiKi Maroon: Haha. Yeah, that’s the one people find difficult. 

John Rabon: Dishwashing is sexy, everybody!

KiKi Maroon: Hahaha! Okay, maybe I’ll keep the questions. I like having something that everybody has to answer, because everybody’s stories are so completely different.

John Rabon: I think it’s good.

KiKi Maroon: I like having a thing, but sometimes I feel like there’s no way to ease into asking the question.

John Rabon: People like it – kind of like, “Inside the Actors Studio,” where they have the questions, you know, “What is your favorite curse word? What is your least favorite word? What’s your favorite word?” People like consistency.

KiKi Maroon: The consistency, the pattern. They want to know what your particular thoughts on this thing are.

John Rabon: Also, that’s the best way to have a thingthat is the actual end of your podcast. Like, “This signifies the end!”

KiKi Maroon: Yeah. Yeah. It’s better than duck rape. Probably.

John Rabon: Eh, I don’t know. Depends on what you’re into.

KiKi Maroon: Thank you, John. I really appreciate it.

John Rabon: Alright, Thank you.

[Theme song: “Last Call” provided by The Last Domino]

KiKi Maroon: That was John Rabon. I hope you liked it. Is it so weird that I’m like, “Oh my God, I hope I find more heroin addicts! They’re the best!” I just really liked him. I feel like I could talk to him a million more times, and always get new and different stories. And maybe I will. He’s clearly a pro. He’s got his own podcast. It’s called, “Yes, I’m Still Sober.” I put a link in the show notes, along with other stuff. He also brought up the SMART Program, which is the second time this has come up already. I haven’t done it. I know nothing about it. But I included a link in the show notes in case anyone’s interested in a program, but is totally turned off by A.A.’s references to a “higher power.” I get it. Again, I have very little info on this program, but it’s come up twice now so I do intend on looking into it. 

What I do know is- cicadas! You guys, I heard that story about them like 10 years ago and finally looked it up because of this podcast! Here’s the thing: they hatch from an egg, they feed on tree fluids for a little bit. I don’t even know what tree fluids are. They sound sticky and gross. Then, they fall to the ground where they dig until they find roots to eat. Depending on the species, they stay underground from two to 17 years. 17 fucking years! After 17 years of hibernating underground, the cicadas emerge from the ground as “nymphs,” which I find hilarious because it’s one letter away from “nympho,” which you should also wait 17 years to be. So, they turn 17, climb a tree, shed their exoskeleton, and become an adult. So when you see those little shells, don’t be grossed out; be amazed and in awe of how incredible that is! The age of consent in Alabama is 16. It takes longer to be a rattling bug than it does to get fucked. That’s amazing. Okay. This has been a Cicada Podcast with KiKi Maroon. Be sure to subscribe and rate it on iTunes, and I will be back next week. Bye!

[Theme song: “Last Call” provided by The Last Domino]