May 24, 2020
#14 Kurtis Matthews – Comedy
They say that the best standup is real. Yes, you need joke structure. Of course you need punchlines. But it can all feel empty if you don’t hear a real person on stage. They also say it can take years for a comic to “find their voice”. Though I conceptually understood that, I didn’t really get it. Anytime I was on stage, I used an over the top performance voice. Which makes sense. I hosted burlesque shows for years before doing standup. And BURLESQUE IS BIG! IT’S SHOWMANSHIP! But in a comedy club setting, that’s too big, too loud, and very weird.
I felt kind of dumb for taking so long to realize that, but it makes sense. How could I show them the real me when I didn’t know who that was? I only started to feel like a person in the last year, so now I’m finally being that real person on stage.
Someone who is a big part of that is today’s guest- Kurtis Matthews. Kurtis is the owner and a teacher at the San Francisco Comedy College. He’s been helping develop comedians for over 2 decades. He is also an amazing standup who performs, along with other comics, in his show- The Addicts Comedy Tour.
I met Kurtis when that tour came though Houston. It was an evening of jokes and stories about life, love, jail, rehab, and recovery. I spent all night either laughing hysterically or trying not to cry. I laughed because the stories were hilarious. I wanted to cry because I had never heard someone else repeat all the crazy shit in my head.
I hadn’t been that affected by a performance since first seeing Bill Hicks. I’m not going to go into that story again, I’ve talked about it ad nauseam on the podcast. But that’s how deeply that show affected me.
So, it was insane, beautiful, and weird to learn that not only were Kurtis and Bill friends, they even had the same AA sponsor! That’s crazy! Life is bananas! Kurtis has since become a friend and a mentor. I recorded this on a visit to San Francisco. We recorded in the classroom/venue after one of his beginner comedy classes. I hope you enjoy it!
- Kurtis Matthews on stage
- The Addicts Comedy Tour
- Kurtis Matthews on Instagram
- San Francisco Comedy College
- American: The Bill Hicks Story
- Russel Brand’s book ‘Recovery’
- How To Break The Pattern of Love Addiction on Psychology Today
- Love Addiction 101 on Addiction.com
- KiKi Maroon on Patreon
- KiKi Maroon on Twitter
- KiKi Maroon on Instagram
- Clown, Interrupted on Instagram
If you like the podcast, please consider signing up to my Patreon. Your donation helps with the operating cost and is the easiest way to say, “thanks for making this!”
KiKi Maroon: Hi! Welcome back to Clown, Interrupted with KiKi Maroon – that’s me! So, everyone says the best stand-up is real. Yes, you need joke structure; of course you need punchlines. But it can feel kind of empty if you don’t hear the real person on stage. They say that it can take years for a comic to “find their voice.” And while I conceptually understood that, I didn’t really get it. I thought, “I know my voice. This is my voice!” Haha. But when I would go on stage, it would be my “PERFORMANCE VOICE!” Which makes sense. I hosted burlesque shows way before I did stand-up. And burlesque – is big! It’s showmanship! It took years to develop into a great burlesque emcee. You know, to really learn how to shake the audience up! So when I started stand-up, that was the only way I knew how to be on stage, which in a comedy club setting, comes off as too big, too loud, and very weird! Haha. For a long time, I thought that was my voice, but it wasn’t. This is my voice. I’m using it. I’m using it right now. Haha. That was my shield, a buffer between the audience and the real me. And while I feel kind of dumb for it taking so long to realize that, it makes sense. How could I show them the real me when I didn’t even know who that person was?
This last year, I finally started to feel like a real person and I’m learning how to be that person on stage. Someone who’s a big part of that is today’s guest, Kurtis Matthews. Kurtis is the owner and teacher at the San Francisco Comedy College. He’s been helping stand-ups develop for more than two decades. But more importantly to me, Kurtis is also a hilarious stand-up himself, who performs with other comics in his show- The Addicts Comedy Tour. I met Kurtis when that tour came through Houston. I listened to their stories about life, love, jail, rehab, and recovery. I watched the entire thing either laughing my head off or trying not to cry. Not because the stories were sad, they weren’t! They were hilarious! I wanted to cry because I’d never heard someone else repeat all the crazy shit in my head. I was sitting in this jam-packed audience, but it felt like they were talking to me, about me. Not only about how fucked up I was, but about how healthy I could be, if I… you know… just stuck with it. I hadn’t been that affected by a performance since first seeing Bill Hicks. I’m not going to go into that story again, because I’ve talked about it ad nauseum on this podcast, but that’s how deeply this show affected me. So it was insane and beautiful and weird to learn that not only were Kurtis and Bill friends, they even had the same A.A. sponsor! That’s crazy. If I had the rights to it, this would be the part where I splice in Bill’s joke about God fucking with people – “Haha I’m a prankster God. I am killing me.” Haha. That’s how this feels. Life is bananas and God is fucking with me.
Since then, Kurtis has become a good friend and a mentor. I recorded this on a visit to San Francisco. I sat in on his beginner stand-up class, which I have to be honest, was kind of painful. But it did make me feel proud about how far I’ve come as a comic because I remember feeling that cringy. We recorded in the classroom/venue afterwards, so we started off by talking about one student whose set was particularly brutal. I hope you enjoy it! Here’s my talk with Kurtis Matthews.
[Theme song: “Last Call” provided by The Last Domino]
Kurtis Matthews: It wasn’t really the misogyny that bothered me. It was almost his racism. I know he was trying to tie it into his bit…
KiKi Maroon: Yeah, he was trying to crowd work into his setup.
Kurtis Matthews: This was one of the hardest things I’ve watched in a long time. Just because, consistently, none of them did any work.
KiKi Maroon: Do I have to cut all this out since you’re bitching about this?
Kurtis Matthews: You can do whatever you want.
KiKi Maroon: Okay. I just wanted to know.
Kurtis Matthews: You’re my friend, KiKi.
KiKi Maroon: You’re my friend too, but if I’m going to put this online, I don’t know if I should cut this part out.
Kurtis Matthews: You do whatever you want. If it’s interesting and you want to put it online, you put it online.
KiKi Maroon: It is interesting. So, hey, we’re talking to Kurtis! Haha.
Kurtis Matthews: Yeah, you are.
KiKi Maroon: How long have you had the comedy school? What’s it called again? The Comedy?
Kurtis Matthews: You’re cute.
KiKi Maroon: College?
Kurtis Matthews: San Francisco Comedy College.
KiKi Maroon: How long have you had this?
Kurtis Matthews: Since ‘99 in San Francisco. We’re the longest-running stand-up school in the Bay Area. We’re also the most attended in America. You know, what’s interesting is, people keep showing up and I have multiple classes and people just like the community here. Because I tend to weed out the jackasses since I’m a bit of a jackass.
KiKi Maroon: Haha I noticed how very honest you were to them, saying, “This is bad, this is very bad.” And I appreciate that.
Kurtis Matthews: I normally don’t do that, but there was part of me tonight where I was thinking, “If I never see you again, good, because you have so much work to do.”
KiKi Maroon: I appreciate your honesty. As somebody who has previously taken comedy classes, I like the idea that, “Oh okay, the money is not just for you to jack me off and tell me I’m going to be successful,” You’re not full of shit; you’re actually helping them.
Kurtis Matthews: Yeah. I mean, honestly, I have so many students that, you know, it’s not that I can afford to lose any, but I’m here to give them honest feedback and to provide a community for them. Give them direction, being a professional comic since 1984.
KiKi Maroon: That’s when I was born!
Kurtis Matthews: Yeah? I’m not gonna… Ugh okay. Haha.
KiKi Maroon: I’m just saying!
Kurtis Matthews: That’s the year I got sober!
KiKi Maroon: Really?
Kurtis Matthews: Oh man!
KiKi Maroon: You got sober the year I was born?!
Kurtis Matthews: So you represent my sobriety!
KiKi Maroon: Aww, how fun
Kurtis Matthews: Man, I knew there was something real special about you.
KiKi Maroon: Wait, you got sober the same year you started comedy?
Kurtis Matthews: No, actually I kind of started in ‘82. You had multiple questions there. You asked about the comedy college…
KiKi Maroon: There’s so much now going on.
Kurtis Matthews: Okay. Let’s go back to the comedy college. We started it in ‘99. Now, a lot of comedy schools in LA or New York or whatever, they get excited when they have 15 kids. I have 80 to 100.
KiKi Maroon: Jesus Christ!
Kurtis Matthews: And that’s advanced classes, one-on-one students, you know…
KiKi Maroon: So then does all of San Francisco comedy come here, basically? That’s a lot of people!
Kurtis Matthews: No, not all of comedy. There are still people who want to go out and get feedback from career open mic-ers or tell themselves they’re great. Or they’re working comics. You know… I’m on the fence with free gigs. I’ve always said if an audience pays even $1 and shows some sort of respect for stand-up, it’s less likely that they’re going to heckle.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah.
Kurtis Matthews: Less likely that they’re going to be mean to people.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah, there’s value..
Kurtis Matthews: So, something. If you could charge $1 or $2, it’s better. “Oh, the show’s free? How desperate is that?” It’s just sad going into it, like, “I’m walking into this free thing. It’s going to be God-awful.”
KiKi Maroon: Yeah. Nobody wants what nobody wants.
Kurtis Matthews: It’s almost as if some of these comedians nowadays are training the audience not to value stand-up or pay for it. How is anybody going to make a living if stand-up is always free? If you’re a customer and you watch a whole bunch of free shows, why are you going to come back in week five and pay $25? You know? You’re not, because it’s been free the whole time.
KiKi Maroon: So that’s actually something I’m learning now that I’m doing the shows in Dallas. I found out through one of the comics that I booked for my show- he was saying that they are not allowed to do or promote bar shows once they’re on Hyena’s roster, because Hyena’s is the club, I don’t know if you’ve ever worked there [in the Dallas area]. Hyena’s is the comedy club there. They have Hyena’s in Dallas, Plano, and Fort Worth. All within driving distance of each other.
Kurtis Matthews: Actually, Mark Lundholm and I, for the Addicts Comedy Tour, we do Hyena’s. That Randy guy over there?
KiKi Maroon: Yeah, Randy!
Kurtis Matthews: Randy Butler (the owner).
KiKi Maroon: I have not met him, but I hear a lot about him.
Kurtis Matthews: He’s a good guy.
KiKi Maroon: What they were saying is that, if you’re on Hyena’s roster, they don’t want you doing all the free bar shows in town. Because why the fuck would somebody then pay to come see you?
Kurtis Matthews: That’s true. With comedy clubs, if they’re good enough and the stage time’s good enough, that makes sense to the comic. But it depends on how big the market is. What I find here in San Francisco is that there’s no allegiance. So you know, some guy that’s going to work over at “Hacky Schmuck’s Handgun and Hard Liquor night” doesn’t care if he goes and then works, “Jenny’s Handgun and Hard Liquor night.” Then he goes over and works “Bimbo’s Hard Liquor and Handgun.”
KiKi Maroon: Haha. Yeah.
Kurtis Matthews: I mean the audience – if you have a draw – they’re split all over the place.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah.
Kurtis Matthews: So what’s your allegiance to? So I suppose the smartest move if you’re a new comic is to have your own show and invite your fan base into that. If that’s the case, though, you’ll love this as a solution: if you have a fan base already, why are you going to a club? Why are you on another show? Set up a stage and a microphone in your garage and charge your friends 10 bucks.
KiKi Maroon: That’s terrible advice.
Kurtis Matthews: No, it isn’t!
KiKi Maroon: No, this is terrible advice that you are giving the audience!
Kurtis Matthews: No it isn’t, because they’re coming to see you.
KiKi Maroon: Because club work is different.
Kurtis Matthews: No it isn’t.
KiKi Maroon: Say you have a fan base, but you only have 25 minutes. You do the club work to feature or host, to build the time to get to headlining shows.
Kurtis Matthews: No.
KiKi Maroon: That’s terrible advice.
Kurtis Matthews: Well, I’m saying there might be times when you do that, but ultimately at the end of the day, in all of comedy right now, it’s about draw.
KiKi Maroon: That is true.
Kurtis Matthews: So I love when a comedian’s going, “I’m working very originally.” That’s not going to put butts in the seats!
KiKi Maroon: Who says that? Haha.
Kurtis Matthews: No, I know. I’m just saying all these people are like, “Oh, I heard a joke at another comic’s show.” Nobody cares! Nobody. Carlos Mencia – god bless him – he’s still working. And he’s still got an audience base.
KiKi Maroon: Does he? Okay.
Kurtis Matthews: And from what I’ve heard, from what I’ve heard, he’s stolen jokes.
KiKi Maroon: Haha, yes, I’ve heard that as well.
Kurtis Matthews: I’m not telling people to steal jokes.
KiKi Maroon: No.
Kurtis Matthews: What I am saying though is…
KiKi Maroon: I’m concerned, because you’re doing “politician hand” while you’re talking right now. Haha.
Kurtis Matthews: No, I’m telling people and I’m telling you, it’s more important to have people that will pay to come see you than it is to have a great act.
KiKi Maroon: Okay. Hey, let’s back up.
Kurtis Matthews: No, you’re the one that took me down this path.
KiKi Maroon: I understand, but I’m controlling the path now. So let’s back up.
Kurtis Matthews: If I have a fan base…
KiKi Maroon: How long have you done comedy?
Kurtis Matthews: Come to my garage.
KiKi Maroon: Oh my god! You are experienced enough to be teaching this class. So how long have you been doing comedy? Let’s back up.
Kurtis Matthews: Since 1984. When you were born.
KiKi Maroon: Okay, I thought you said ‘82.
Kurtis Matthews: No, ‘82. Yeah. I started in ‘82, but I was drunk.
KiKi Maroon: So you don’t count that?
Kurtis Matthews: No, I don’t count it at all. I mean, I went back to my very first times on stage at the Comedy Store in Hollywood. I go back and listen to those sets and I was just loud. You know, when you’re drunk, you think you’re doing great…
KiKi Maroon: Yes.
Kurtis Matthews: But you’re not.
KiKi Maroon: I know all about that.
Kurtis Matthews: You’re just loud. I listened to those tapes and they scared me.
KiKi Maroon: You still have your tapes from back when you were performing drunk?
Kurtis Matthews: Somewhere. I’ve got hundreds of tapes.
KiKi Maroon: Oh wow
Kurtis Matthews: We taped everything back in the day. We had those little things that look like bricks with the cassette in it. So yeah, I have a bunch of tapes lying around somewhere. I think they’re in storage.
KiKi Maroon: Okay. But you were so drunk. You don’t count it. What kind of a drinker were you?
Kurtis Matthews: I thought I was classy. I was pre-law in college and so I thought I was classy. I’d drink gin and tonics and martinis. My dad liked martinis. My dad was a normal drinker. I was a mess.
KiKi Maroon: Oh, really?
Kurtis Matthews: Yeah.
KiKi Maroon: So it’s not in the family?
Kurtis Matthews: I tried to drink classy stuff.
KiKi Maroon: But I mean, did you black out every day? Were you a day drinker?
Kurtis Matthews: I didn’t black out, but I got to the place where every time I drank, I had to drink til I passed out. I couldn’t just stop.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah.
Kurtis Matthews: You know, once I started drinking, my drinking was only over when I went to sleep.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah. I understand that.
Kurtis Matthews: I think I might have blacked out. People told me I blacked out before. But it wasn’t like an ongoing thing. It may have happened, once or twice. It’s really scary. If you black out, stop drinking. Geez Louise.
KiKi Maroon: I didn’t black out at first. I actually thought girls who said they blacked out were liars and just wanted an excuse to say that they didn’t remember what happened.
Kurtis Matthews: Haha. That’s funny.
KiKi Maroon: And I was like, “That fucking lying bitch.”
Kurtis Matthews: Well, maybe some of them did.
KiKi Maroon: And, well, that’s the thing. Then I became a blackout drunk. Something happened- probably all the alcohol. And I just started blacking out all the time. And because I drank until I couldn’t anymore, I was blacking out every day for years. It was scary every single morning because I didn’t remember anything. I had that, “Oh God, what happened last night?” panic. Checking my phone, looking for the texts, doing the whole thing. And now I just can’t even imagine that. That’s terrifying. Why the fuck would I live in that space?
Kurtis Matthews: It is terrifying. Yeah. Well, that’s how crazy we are where, you know, you forget whole blocks of time and bad things happen. I was talking to a kid the other day and he told me that he said he would drink and his body would go, “Let’s shut down. Let’s lay down.” And his mind was like, “No, we’ve got a million things to do.” And so, yeah, he did all sorts of stuff blacked out, you know?
KiKi Maroon: So what made you quit then?
Kurtis Matthews: Car accident, mostly.
KiKi Maroon: Oh yes! We talked about this. We both had car accidents!
Kurtis Matthews: I know! My car accident was in ‘84. Probably at the same time you were being born.
KiKi Maroon: Oh! If you killed someone, maybe I was their reincarnation.
Kurtis Matthews: Oh my god, and you’re my daughter!
KiKi Maroon: Oh! Or I’m coming back for revenge!
Kurtis Matthews: That’s so great! Either way, I’m in. Okay. Why did I quit? My life was not… I was not happy. Here’s my story.
KiKi Maroon: Tell me your story.
Kurtis Matthews: Okay. If you want. I mean, the thing that I’m the most happy about is- I drank early. I burned out early. And I was done. Some people, their whole lives, they drink. They’re alcoholics and their life is not very good. And it’s up and down, it’s a roller coaster. Or they don’t get sober until late in life. For me, I started drinking at 16.
KiKi Maroon: Oh wow!
Kurtis Matthews: It was mostly killing the pain of a relationship. The love addiction stuff, we can talk about on some other show.
KiKi Maroon: Oh fuck yeah. I can have a whole conversation with you about that.
Kurtis Matthews: That was one of the huge issues that drove me to the alcohol when I was 16. I drank at 16, 17, 18; it got worse. I was drinking every weekend and passing out. Then I was drinking every third day. And then it got to the place where I had to drink every day. And then June 20, 1984, I crashed a car. I almost killed a car full of girls.
KiKi Maroon: Oh my god!
Kurtis Matthews: Almost killed myself…
KiKi Maroon: Did you crash into the car?
Kurtis Matthews: No, I went by the back end of the car and hit a stone wall. But as I was sliding into the intersection, I had that moment where I thought I was going to die. And then, somehow…
KiKi Maroon: Because the accident was so jarring, did it sober you up immediately?
Kurtis Matthews: Well, as I slid through, I had that weird moment of clarity. Some people talk about, “ I felt like there was this weird bubble around me and that I’d be okay.” If I go back to those moments, I thought I was going to die, then I felt like I’d be okay. And it all happened within a second to two seconds. Then I hit the wall and I was wearing my seatbelt. I bounced my head off the steering wheel, fell into the gutter. San Diego Sherriffs, god bless them! They showed up and said, “You want to ride in the police car or the ambulance?” And, I realized that I was beat. I had accepted that I was beat. I came so close to killing those girls, and I came so close to killing myself, that there was some part of me that really went, “I can’t do this.” I mean, I really met myself. I’m powerless over this, I don’t know what I’m going to do. Even if I had continued to drink, the state of California stepped in and said, “You’re done.” You know what I mean? And I’m not going to fight the state and I’m not going to be in denial. My first year, I had alcohol school and everybody’s in denial when they first get there.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah.
Kurtis Matthews: “Oh, this happens to everybody,” you know?
KiKi Maroon: It’s the worst.
Kurtis Matthews: But it was the easiest thing for me in my first year. Just act “as if”.
KiKi Maroon: You had to go for a full year? I only had… I don’t even know what it was… maybe a four week course.
Kurtis Matthews: Well, look at you and look at me! No, I’m kidding. No, I mean, this was my second one.
KiKi Maroon: Oh, it was your second one?
Kurtis Matthews: Yeah, it was my second time within two years. Because my alcoholism was… in ‘82, I got busted for drunk driving on the westside of Los Angeles. But there was no accident. ‘84 was the big accident. So obviously things were going awry.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah.
Kurtis Matthews: So yeah, I had a year of alcohol school, but what made it easy was I acted as if I was an alcoholic. I go, “Okay, you want to call me an alcoholic? That’s not such a shameful thing. I’m going to act like I am.” So when I started acting like I was, I started hearing things that sounded familiar to me. So instead of fighting it… I don’t know why people say, “I don’t want to be considered an alcoholic.”
Why? I mean, there’s worse things about you, you know what I mean? It’s like saying, “Oh, I don’t want to be a diabetic.” Well, you are!
KiKi Maroon: As somebody who fought it… haha. I know I can say that it seemed like labelling myself as weak. And so I didn’t want to use that word because “it’s not cool and hip” and all that stuff. “It’s saying that I’m a loser, and I’m not a loser!” So that’s what it was for me.
Kurtis Matthews: No, I got, I got you. And there are people that go, “Well, if you just buckle down, just stop doing it.” We have a compulsion of the mind. We have a spiritual deficit and a compulsion of the mind; it’s a disease. We are wired differently. It’s like you and I were talking about earlier today, “Hey, look- that cop’s got a gun. Let’s take it!” Normal people don’t think like that!
KiKi Maroon: Hahaha! I want to just clarify that we did not say that about a cop that was in front of us.
Kurtis Matthews: Well… not about a specific cop.
KiKi Maroon: We were talking about how that is a thought that we have both had.
Kurtis Matthews: Right. Crazy people have that thought, because we are ill! So once you go, “It’s not that I’m weak, it’s because I’m ill.” It’s like, you know, what kind of idiot would walk around and go, “I don’t have the flu (cough). I don’t have the flu (cough). I don’t have the flu (cough).”
KiKi Maroon: Lots of people do that.
Kurtis Matthews: That’s ridiculous.
KiKi Maroon: Then they still go to work.
Kurtis Matthews: Then they get everybody infected and they’re terrible.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah.
Kurtis Matthews: So I’m just saying kids, if you have herpes, tell someone. Hahaha What? What am I saying?
KiKi Maroon: Haha!
Kurtis Matthews: Anyway, you know what I mean? To me, it wasn’t weakness. It was power. It’s like, “I got this thing and I want to deal with it.”
KiKi Maroon: I agree. But I think that’s a lot of clarity for you to have that early in.
Kurtis Matthews: I was scared crapless. The whole thing. I mean, when people say to me, “Hey, don’t you miss drinking?” No, because drinking to me, one Budweiser, equals screaming girls, car crash, smell of gasoline, ambulance, whatever. So I don’t sit there and go, “It would be nice to have a beer with friends.” No, it wouldn’t be nice. It would be nice not to run into a car full of girls and kill myself and scare the crap out of my parents and lose my girlfriend and total a $25,000 car.
KiKi Maroon: Wait, wait. Okay. Sorry, backing up. Because we’ve talked about this codependent thing, right? Do you think it hit you so hard because, and you’ve said this over and over again, because of those girls? Like, if you had just hurt yourself or just hit the car or, do you think you would have still reached that conclusion as fast? Or is it that other people were involved, so that mattered in a different way? Does that make sense? Am I making sense?
Kurtis Matthews: Yeah, no, it does. And… (fake crying)… I think we’ve had a significant breakthrough.
KiKi Maroon: Jesus Christ, Kurtis.
Kurtis Matthews: No, I will tell you. No, it wasn’t that. A lot of times when people go back and think about horrible things they did, in their mind, they make it black and white. That’s still color for me. You know what I mean? I can still see it. I still dream about it. It’s in color. The sound of the metal. The right rear tire of my car flew off when I hit a curb. The sound of the metal dragging across the concrete, the sound of the car hitting the center divider, the sound of the metal crushing as I hit the stone wall, the sound of the sirens, and then those girls screaming. So those girls were just part of the whole stereophonic thing. But yeah, I mean obviously the most significant portion was that I put myself at risk. My partying and having a good time was more important than my life.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah.
Kurtis Matthews: And there’s more, you know. It gets worse before it gets better. So after I went to the hospital, the sheriff came in and ultimately took my blood test. Although I fought him, you know.
KiKi Maroon: Oh yeah, me too.
Kurtis Matthews: So the guy threatened to break my arm and I’m like, “Whatever, I’m drunk.” And he bends it all the way so it’s about to snap. That’s actually legal, according to the Supreme Court. So they came in and they took my blood. And I remember sneaking out of the emergency room.
KiKi Maroon: Are you serious?!
Kurtis Matthews: I’m telling you the whole story. I walked down these railroad tracks for about two miles back to my house. I was alone. Now imagine this: drunk driving accident, I got blood all over my clothes. I’ve just been busted. I wander out when the cops aren’t looking. I wander home on these railroad tracks. I get to my house, right? My girlfriend at the time was worried about me. I looked at the look in her in the eyes because I had just totaled her car. Just totaled her car. So I looked at her, I laid down and I’m like, “Did that just happen?” About a half an hour later, it was like two in the morning, my mom and dad show up and they’re both crying. So, I’m sitting in bed and I finally saw me through my mother’s eyes. And I couldn’t take it. They just wanted so much for me. So that hurt. So I mean, that’s how it affects other people. Because there are people who love you.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah.
Kurtis Matthews: There are people who love you. And I disappointed my mom. That’s what killed me the most. You know, my dad kind of knew I had trouble, but he loved me anyway. But my mom, she was disappointed. And at the same time, I scared them. “Hey, guess what? Your son has been in a drunk driving accident. He’s in the hospital.” They were glad I was alive, but I had to live to see that look of terror as well as disappointment and sadness. And so that’s what I mean about other people. You know, spouses and brothers and sisters and moms and dads and the people we work with.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah.
Kurtis Matthews: So when you think, “I’m just going to party,” well… you’re taking all those people with you. Every time you go somewhere. And sure, maybe you hate your family. Maybe you got friends who want to see you alive. Maybe you just show up and be nice to yourself so other people can show up and be nice to you too. Maybe be a decent part of the society. Maybe be a good person and be part of the solution. I don’t know. But yeah, that was it. June 20, 1984. That’s what stopped me. I happily went to drug and alcohol school. I happily went to the meetings that the court told me to go to. I happily took direction from all these great people that I met. About six months in, I went on stage again. Because I go, “I got a voice and I’m not afraid. After that, I’m not afraid of anything.”
KiKi Maroon: Okay. So you took that six months, you weren’t on stage. Were you worried about being in bars after? Or were you so confident that it didn’t matter?
Kurtis Matthews: No, honestly, I keep telling people this – it’s like being a diabetic and watching people eat cake at a birthday party. You don’t sit there and go, “Oh I really want that cake.” No, you’re like, “That cake would kill me. I’m glad you can enjoy that cake. And it looks like a nice cake. Hope you’re having a good time with it. But I know that cake.” Give me a slice of cake and then there’s sirens and metal and mom crying and everything. So, no, it never did. I did my whole career sober. 35 years.
KiKi Maroon: Well you said you had two years before. Haha.
Kurtis Matthews: I wouldn’t call that my career. That was just me doing open mics. I was smart though. I went to a comedy class. I studied with Greg Dean, who was a great comedy teacher.
KiKi Maroon: Oh! I have his book.
Kurtis Matthews: Yeah?
KiKi Maroon: Yeah.
Kurtis Matthews: Well that’s who taught me to teach!
KiKi Maroon: Oh, wow! That’s cool.
Kurtis Matthews: So we’re kind of the grandbabies of Greg Dean here at San Francisco Comedy College. Yeah, he’s a good guy. So anyway, I studied with him, because before that I was drunk and yelling at the Comedy Store.
KiKi Maroon: So you didn’t have any issues going up sober?
Kurtis Matthews: Nope.
KiKi Maroon: So many people I talk to had no problems with it. And that’s so funny to me because I thought that was going to be the theme of this show. I was starting the podcast wanting to know, “What’s it like transitioning into a sober career?” And many people are like, “No, that wasn’t a problem.”
Which is great! It’s just interesting to me.
Kurtis Matthews: Have you ever, I don’t know. This is cumbersome; it’s cumbersome analogy and metaphor night, but you know, it’s almost like watching Tommy Lee having sex with Pamela Anderson and giving her hepatitis. You don’t sit there and go, “I want some of that.” Every time I see people drinking, I’m going, “You’re hepping yourself.” You know what I mean? “Hep it up!”
KiKi Maroon: Hahaha! I don’t understand that one at all.
Kurtis Matthews: Yeah you do.
KiKi Maroon: No I don’t. Haha.
Kurtis Matthews: First of all, Tommy Lee gave Pamela Anderson hepatitis. Right?
KiKi Maroon: No, I get that.
Kurtis Matthews: So when they had sex…
KiKi Maroon: I understand that.
Kurtis Matthews: …it’s possible that he gave it to her then.
KiKi Maroon: Yes, yes I understand that.
Kurtis Matthews: Right. So, what I’m saying is, watching people drink, I’m like, “You’re just making yourself sick.” I don’t think, “Ooh, I wish I could make myself sick.”
KiKi Maroon: I get that now. But what I’m saying is…
Kurtis Matthews: I never wanted Tommy Lee in me. That’s what I’m saying.
KiKi Maroon: Hahaha ok. While you were in the middle of it, that you had no fear to go on stage is interesting to me, because I did not experience that. That is something I find interesting.
Kurtis Matthews: Okay. All right. Well, that’s you. I’m me, you know?
KiKi Maroon: Yes, you’re you, and I’m trying to figure it out!
Kurtis Matthews: I just have a stronger, higher power that loves me more than yours.
KiKi Maroon: HAHA!
Kurtis Matthews: Anyway, no, I’m telling you because the crash was so horrendous, I never really put it together that people were drinking in front of me. Never really put it together.
KiKi Maroon: Backing up. You had a sponsor who was also a comic, right?
Kurtis Matthews: That was my second sponsor. Yes.
KiKi Maroon: The second sponsor was also a comic. Okay. Did you know him when you first quit drinking or meet him afterwards?
Kurtis Matthews: I think it was ‘87.
KiKi Maroon: Oh, so you were already deep.
Kurtis Matthews: Here’s the deal: Texas; and this is what’s so great about Texas and my love for Houston, because I’ve got nothing but love for Houston.
KiKi Maroon: Thank you.
Kurtis Matthews: It’s not like you created Houston.
KiKi Maroon: But I can thank you for loving it as much as I do.
Kurtis Matthews: Okay. You’re welcome. Y’all are welcome. There you go. My first week on the road, I worked with Bill Hicks, which was crazy! Hicks was from Houston and I went, “There must be something cool happening down in Houston.”
KiKi Maroon: And you knew him in LA or San Francisco?
Kurtis Matthews: When I first went on the road, my first week on the road, I got booked opening for Bill Hicks.
KiKi Maroon: Okay, so he didn’t ask for you, you got booked through an agent?
KiKi Maroon: Yeah.
KiKi Maroon: Okay.
Kurtis Matthews: I worked with him for two weeks and I told the booking agent, I said, “Cancel the other tours I’m going on and let me stay with this guy” because I wanted to watch him.
KiKi Maroon: Really?
Kurtis Matthews: So yeah, I hung out with Bill and we became instant friends. We were pals. We hung out for a whole month and did crappy gigs. I watched him do one-nighters where people didn’t get him and stuff like that. But I knew there was something, because I’d seen a bunch of LA comics who were trying to get sitcoms and be, you know, the happy slappy guy. And then I see a guy that’s got a real opinion and real content and is an amazing performer. And I go, “I’ve got to hang out with this guy. I don’t know what he’s got, but I want some of it.” So, Bill and I talked about Houston, I go, “I bet it’s a cool place.” He gave me the phone numbers of bookers in Houston and said, “I will help you get into Houston with some of these bookers.” I went down and I worked for the Menzels, who owned the Comedy Workshop (a popular Houston comedy club in the 1980s). So I went down there and I met Hicks and Andy Huggins and all of those guys that were the Texas Outlaw Comics.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah.
Kurtis Matthews: And I thought, “These guys are really cool.” That’s when they called it “third coast comedy.” There was LA, there was New York, and there was Houston. What’s interesting is, even though I’m in San Francisco, San Francisco always tried to promote itself as being a comedy place. And yeah, a lot of decent people came through here, but decent people came through here and then went on made it in Los Angeles or in New York.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah.
Kurtis Matthews: Even though there are a bunch of clubs here, it’s always kinda been a B minus market. But that’s why I like it. This is probably the best place in the country now for new talent comics, but for established comedy? No. Yeah, there were clubs back in the day, but you’d be hard-pressed to name more than four or five people that make you go, “Oh, that just changed the world!”
KiKi Maroon: Yeah.
Kurtis Matthews: But Houston was one of those places. Bill Hicks was there and Sam Kinison was from there. You know Jimmy Pineapple?
KiKi Maroon: Yeah, Jimmy Pineapple!
Kurtis Matthews: Anyway, I met all of these guys and they just took me in. They were really nice to me. They were like, “Hey, come on down here!” And I just loved the audiences in Texas. It was a great place! So Houston became, even though I was an LA comic, Houston became this place that… it was such a cool workshop. And so I always had love for Houston. Still do.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah.
Kurtis Matthews: Always love going back down there. I like Texas people. I like you.
KiKi Maroon: I like you too.
Kurtis Matthews: I like you back. Well, I’m a California guy. I’m an LA comic, but Texas became a normal route and I learned a lot down there. Anyway, I met my sponsor. Right. That’s what you’re asking. James Vernon. I can say his name now because he’s gone to the great beyond.
KiKi Maroon: Oh, you’re not supposed to say your sponsors’ names when they’re alive?
Kurtis Matthews: I don’t think you should. I don’t know what the rules are, but I’m not blowing anybody’s anonymity. James is on the other side.
KiKi Maroon: Okay.
Kurtis Matthews: And so James was sponsoring me and Hicks. So we were his babies. Bill and I would talk all the time about trying to get well.
KiKi Maroon: And you were sober before Bill, right?
Kurtis Matthews: I was. What was so great about Bill was he said things like, “I just want to experience everything there is to experience.” You know, I think part of him subconsciously knew he wasn’t here for a long time, which is weird. I mean, I can’t prove that.
KiKi Maroon: I actually had a similar theory, because it was weird to watch him be like he was, I’m older than he was! He seemed so much more experienced.
Kurtis Matthews: Yeah. Well, he read all the time. He read everything he’d get his hands on. But that story about him saying, “Someday, you’re going to find me with an upside down cross on the left side of my body.” You know what I mean?
KiKi Maroon: No I don’t.
Kurtis Matthews: Yeah. He talked about being killed by God or something. It was weird, and then he got pancreatic cancer on the left side. So, you know… ask Huggins about that.
KiKi Maroon: Wow. I will, thank you.
Kurtis Matthews: But Bill said to me, he goes, “This sobriety thingy, man, that thing you’re doing. That’s like an altered state, man. What’s that all about?” And he got interested in it. I don’t necessarily know if he was totally committed to being sober. He knew he had a coke problem. He knew he had an alcohol problem. But I just think he thought, “What’s on the other side, man? What are you doing? Because you seem so happy in sobriety.” And so yeah, James Vernon came in and helped us both. And what was so great was that because Bill sobered up, he was able to get those last three albums out. You know, Revelations and some of the other stuff.
KiKi Maroon: So good.
Kurtis Matthews: Because he knew he was dying and he wanted to dump everything. That’s why he was fearless on stage too and kept doing new material. So yeah, I was happy to know Bill. He and I were buddies. We were sponsees of Vernon’s. Not that I belong to any anonymous group, but we were sponsees.
KiKi Maroon: That’s interesting to me about that, he just wanted to experience everything. I’ve said before that I “Madonna”. All the time. I’ve had so many different personalities and names.
Kurtis Matthews: That’s creepy.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah, it’s kind of creepy, but I’ve gone through so many things. I’ll go a couple of years and be like, “I don’t like this anymore. I’m gonna try this other thing.” I didn’t think sobriety was going to be one of them but it is now. But even when I was like deep in the crazy and really deciding that I’m going to let the id take over and spiral out, even then I actually had these journals where I was writing things like, “It’s fine that I’m spiraling out because I just want to be a ‘connoisseur of life.’” That’s what I called it, like, “I just want to try all the things. This fucked up shit is just one of the many things I want to try.” I was deluding myself into thinking it was okay that I was spiraling out, because I knew I was spiraling out. I told myself I was choosing to spiral out. As an experience that I just wanted to try.
Kurtis Matthews: I got you. I mean, you hear Bill’s, “It’s Just a Ride,” piece. It’s like, “ life is this amusement park. What can I try?” You know, what’s interesting? This is the only regret I have with Bill. When he got sick, he didn’t tell any of us. Because I remember he was in Seattle and I said, “Hey, let’s hang out.” I was doing some other gigs in Seattle and he’s in the car and says, “Hey man, my back hurts.” And I’m like, you know, “That’ll be fine.” Because we’re young. We’re not going to die. Then I found out later, he had pancreatic cancer, which he didn’t tell us about. But also, because I was protecting my sobriety, when he went on those last acid trips he took, I just thought he had slipped. I just thought he went out. So when in my head I go, “Bill is now dangerous to me because he slipped.” But if he had told me… if he had told me, “Yeah man, I don’t have long. And I want to do this trip with my friends.” I would have gone, “Fuck man, let me come hang out with you. I’m not going to do it, but let me hold your head while you trip.”
KiKi Maroon: Yeah.
Kurtis Matthews: So, that’s my only regret. I just wish he told me, I mean, you know, Tony Vicich, who ended up helping out Hicks, Tony’s still a friend of mine too. Tony’s great. We all kind of knew each other. I mean, sober comics, sober recovering comics in LA, we kind of all knew each other. And then your circle broadens, you start to meet the sober comics in Houston and the sober comics in New York and the sober comics everywhere. It really is kind of a small community of people that have long-term recovery. Russell Brand, haha, he’s got a whole company now!
KiKi Maroon: Yeah! I have not read his book. I’m going to, I want to actually talk about it on the podcast. Because I’ve had lots of people who are not interested in the program, but are interested in that. So I want to offer all the different things.
Kurtis Matthews: Of course. I mean, you can recover in multiple different ways. I mean, whatever works for you. The thing I like about Russell Brand, honestly… this is where the Addicts Comedy Tour came from… they say your primary purpose after you get sober is to help other people to achieve sobriety. That “you’ve got to give it away to keep it.”
KiKi Maroon: Yeah.
Kurtis Matthews: I’ve met so many show business people who get in recovery only so they can get back into show business. Or they only do it because they want to get booked on a show. Or they only do it because they want management to take them seriously.
KiKi Maroon: That seems like the longest way to do something. Haha.
Kurtis Matthews: I know. But I mean, I have actually seen that. I’ve actually seen that stuff where people are like, “Oh, I’m sober now.” And it’s BS. You can tell when somebody is legit. It’s like, I don’t lead with that. I mean, yeah, I’m sober and yeah, I’m a comedian. But my primary purpose is not to get on Last Comic Standing, if they still have that. What is it now? Who’s Laughing Now? or whatever it’s called.
KiKi Maroon: There’s a couple of them.
Kurtis Matthews: I’m not trying to get on Netflix. I don’t care. Every comedian in the country will be on Netflix. Not a big deal.
KiKi Maroon: Well, I hope I do!
Kurtis Matthews: Yeah, of course.
KiKi Maroon: I want that. Haha.
Kurtis Matthews: Yeah, exactly. You still have the compulsion and we’ll cure you of it. But it seems to me…
KiKi Maroon: Success is not compulsion! I want to be successful.
Kurtis Matthews: I don’t know if Netflix is successful. It’s just something you can do.
KiKi Maroon: It gives you an audience who can then buy tickets.
Kurtis Matthews: You get an audience by being a fabulous dancer and having a great podcast.
KiKi Maroon: I’m not a fabulous dancer. You don’t even know anything about me.
Kurtis Matthews: Then why am I giving to your Patreon?
KiKi Maroon: That’s not for dancing.
Kurtis Matthews: What is it for? Costumes?
KiKi Maroon: I am an emcee and host!
Kurtis Matthews: You’re a hoe?
KiKi Maroon: Host!
Kurtis Matthews: I know, I’m playing with you, KiKi.
KiKi Maroon: I am a comedian!
Kurtis Matthews: KiKi, I believe in you.
KiKi Maroon: I know.
Kurtis Matthews: Let’s not make it about you, you’re getting sad. Go do Netflix, KiKi.
KiKi Maroon: Thank you.
Kurtis Matthews: That’s fine. Yeah. I want you to, I hope that brings you all the success.
KiKi Maroon: I’m gonna give you my business plan later.
Kurtis Matthews: I want you to, I can’t wait to see it. Now think of all the comedians that have done Netflix, that you still haven’t heard of. So good luck with Netflix.
KiKi Maroon: I’ll be different! Do you wanna hear the plan?
Kurtis Matthews: Okay. No, don’t give away the plan.
KiKi Maroon: I give it away all the time! I give it away on Patreon!
Kurtis Matthews: Other people will take the plan.
KiKi Maroon: All you have to do is sign up for the Patreon and you’ll see my blueprint.
Kurtis Matthews: I suggest signing up. I got a sweet t-shirt that says “Insane Clown Posse” or whatever.
KiKi Maroon: It says “Houston Stripping Clowns.”
Kurtis Matthews: I know. I loved it. It made me happy. I don’t think anybody believes I’m a Houston Stripping Clown. Anyway, I think Russell Brand’s doing what he wants. I think he wants to help people.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah. Oh, I agree.
Kurtis Matthews: More than he wants to be famous, he wants to help people now. And I think that’s pretty cool.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah. I like that he talks about how he’s had the fame, he’s had the money, he’s had the sex, he’s had all of the things. He didn’t find happiness in it. He found happiness here. And he’s trying to tell other people to kind of give them the shortcut. And it’s hard, because everybody then says, “But you can say that because you’ve had it. I want to try it myself.”… Like… I’m saying now.
Kurtis Matthews: Yeah.
KiKi Maroon: But I genuinely believe him versus other people who seem to be just vomiting the positive bullshit, because it’s popular right now. I believe him.
Kurtis Matthews: Yeah. Obviously there’s something to be said about somebody that’s been there and done that, you know. I’ve done everything I wanted to do in stand-up. You know, really. I mean, I did. I did TV shows. I did cruises. I did colleges. I made a lot of money. I didn’t make money. I worked all over the country. I worked in all but two states in the United States. I’ve been to Canada with my comedy.
KiKi Maroon: Which two states did you not do?
Kurtis Matthews: New Hampshire and Maine are the only two.
KiKi Maroon: Oh, Maine’s supposed to be beautiful.
Kurtis Matthews: I know, exactly.
KiKi Maroon: It’s so sad you didn’t make it. Haha!
Kurtis Matthews: Well, I could! I could put on a show, nobody would come, but then I could fill out Maine… But I’ve done everything and yeah, I agree. It is not gonna fix you.
KiKi Maroon: So you’re not going to quit doing the Addicts Comedy Tour though, right?
Kurtis Matthews: No.
KiKi Maroon: Okay. Because that’s…
Kurtis Matthews: That’s because it’s being of service.
KiKi Maroon: That’s what I was going to say. That is how I met you.
Kurtis Matthews: Yes.
KiKi Maroon: You were on tour with the Addicts Comedy Tour. Andy Huggins was opening for you and I always like to go to support Andy.
Kurtis Matthews: Andy is a good man.
KiKi Maroon: I actually kept getting ads for it on Facebook because of my search history, I guess. Comedy and sobriety and things like that.
Kurtis Matthews: Right.
KiKi Maroon: So I was very excited when I saw that that was happening! I was like, “Please don’t let this suc!” Because this is important to me.
Kurtis Matthews: And it did suck!
KiKi Maroon: No! That’s why I was so happy. I know I told you this, but I’m going to say it on the podcast again. It helped me so, so much to watch you. I didn’t know who you were. I just was coming to this random thing. For you to go on stage and talk about things that I thought that only I thought… I left there and I cried my whole drive home. And The Joke Joint is far, it’s a long drive! Haha. I cried my whole drive home because I felt… so much relief. Watching somebody on stage say things that I thought I only thought… I always assumed that I’m crazy. I know I’m kind of crazy and that’s fine. But… you not only said things that I think, but then you talked about how it ends. That you find peace eventually. You talked about the cop and how you want to pull a gun and how it’s so hard that you can’t just let things be okay. That when things are going okay in your life, you want to fuck them up.
Kurtis Matthews: Yeah.
KiKi Maroon: But that if you keep going… so many years in… you reach serenity. And you find peace. And so it was like you were talking to me from the future. I was like, “Wait a minute. This stops?” I didn’t know that! I had just kind of accepted that I was not going to be able to function. Because it was my first couple of years of feeling my feelings. It’s a lot rushing in. And so one- I want to say thank you. And two- make sure that you continue to do the show. Because I’m sure I’m not the only person who has that same feeling of relief hearing somebody say, in a very long winded, funny way, “It’s going to be okay.” Thank you.
Kurtis Matthews: That’s a lot.
KiKi Maroon: Hahaha!
Kurtis Matthews: I honour you as a person, as a comedian, as a sober person, as a human being. And I always knew there was, I don’t know, just something special about you. I appreciate that very much. I’m flattered and humbled by your words. I don’t know. You know, I mean, sure. I could say something funny and just…you know. But that’s fear, right? When you hide behind jokes too much, it’s just fear. You’re just a sad little man wearing tennis shoes when you probably should put on some dress shoes. No, that’s really sweet. And I will tell you this: I don’t intend to stop touring with Mark Lundholm, because he’s one of the most… he’s my brother. I’ve known that guy for 33 years. He kind of represents the “N” (narcotics) and I kind of represent the “A” (alcohol). He’s been there and he’s done that and he’s crazy. And he’s been in jail and he scares the crap out of me sometimes.
KiKi Maroon: Hahaha!
Kurtis Matthews: We fight a lot, but we love each other at the end of the day. So that tour will continue. That being said, yeah, I don’t think it’s ever going to be massively popular, but so what? You know, we’ve always said, “If we can go in there and affect two or three people. If we can save somebody’s life tonight, that show’s important. Because I saved somebody’s life; what did you do?” “We got a Netflix special,” Really? I kept that person from putting a gun in their mouth. It’s just that my higher power allows me to do that. And so, yeah, we’re never going to be hugely famous, but we will continue to do that because it’s not about fame; it’s about service. So thank you. I’m glad that you came. And also I’m glad that you’re part of our circle, and as you get funnier, you’ll come out with us as a guest and it’ll be great!
KiKi Maroon: Yeah, gotta get the funny part down. I’m figuring it out.
Kurtis Matthews: You’re funny. What are you talking about? You’re funnier than all my students.
KiKi Maroon: Well, thank you. I should hope so! Fuck. Haha!
Kurtis Matthews: How dare you? You know, they were beginners. What can I tell you?
KiKi Maroon: I’m still working on it a lot, but I didn’t feel comfortable, I didn’t talk about not drinking on stage. I’m three and a half, almost four years in. I just finally felt comfortable mentioning that I don’t drink maybe six months ago. Because for the first couple of years, I didn’t talk about it even online. Social media, nothing. I was scared of losing the sponsors. Many of my shows have beer sponsors and liquor sponsors.
Kurtis Matthews: Yeah, I was wondering about that.
KiKi Maroon: I was very worried about losing them because I need that money to run the shows. So I didn’t talk about it. And I also did a radio show and that was a whole separate thing. We had liquor sponsors.
Kurtis Matthews: You don’t have to drink their liquor to let them sponsor you. You know what I mean?
KiKi Maroon: I get that now. But at first, you know, there was a lot of fear. I used to always say, “I don’t want to be ‘sober KiKi’. I just want to be ‘KiKi’.” Which was bullshit. I just didn’t want people… I didn’t want to be held accountable if I changed my mind, basically. So I didn’t talk about it for a long time. When I finally felt comfortable talking about it, I really wanted to help people and that’s how the podcast happened. So now I’m like, “Fuck it. If they don’t want to be involved, fuck ‘em.” I’m in a different place now. I am just now exploring it on stage.
Kurtis Matthews: Talking about being sober on stage?
KiKi Maroon: Yeah, that’s very new.
Kurtis Matthews: My bottom line was always, I’m not going to appear with alcohol and I’m not going to endorse alcohol. At the same time, I don’t have any problem with it, you know. If I go into a club and they have specials on Corona, I’m not going to tell them to stop. I’m just not going to have any. Years ago, years and years ago, there was a Johnnie Walker Scotch contest for the funniest comedian in LA. Anyway, I got into the finals with Steve Smith, who is another sober comic.
KiKi Maroon: Oh, how funny!
Kurtis Matthews: And so, it’s a Johnnie Walker contest. And for the promo, you know the guy who’s wearing the Johnnie Walker costume, “Hey, everybody!”
KiKi Maroon: Hahaha!
Kurtis Matthews: I mean, this guy’s already sold out. You know what I’m saying?
KiKi Maroon: Yeah.
Kurtis Matthews: So he’s wearing the costume and he goes, “All of us are going to hold Johnnie Walker bottles,” Steve and I go, “We’re not holding Johnnie Walker bottles.” Budd Friedman (founder and original emcee of the Improvisation Comedy Club in New York) bailed us out. Budd shows up and goes, “Why don’t you hold some delightful Improv water?” And we’re like, “Yeah, what a great idea!” So we’re the only two guys sitting there with Improv water while these other guys are holding bottles of Johnnie Walker.
KiKi Maroon: Hahaha! That’s funny.
Kurtis Matthews: I don’t have a problem with people that drink Johnnie Walker, but for me to hold it would be disingenuous.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah, I agree.
Kurtis Matthews: Another funny thing from the Addicts Comedy Tour. We were doing the Des Moines Funny Bone. They had been getting a lot of money from Budweiser and Bud Light. Well, Budweiser and Bud Light were making their giant standing displays. So we get there and it’s like, “Addicts Comedy brought to you by Bud Light.” I’m like, “You gotta be kidding me!” I still have it.
KiKi Maroon: Hahaha! That’s so funny.
Kurtis Matthews: We thought it was hilarious. The next year, by the way, we were sponsored by O’Doul’s.
KiKi Maroon: Oh my god.
Kurtis Matthews: But you know, it was funny. So it’s whatever you can handle. If people can drink normally, god bless them.
KiKi Maroon: I understand. I don’t care now. My thing now is, they can sponsor my festival, which doesn’t have my name and face and everything. It’s more of a general thing I own. So I’m like, “Yeah, I’ll put beer and liquor all over that!” But as far as like, for me, I don’t want that. I just don’t. I just don’t want it.
Kurtis Matthews: Whatever works for you. It’s like, what can you live with at the end of the day? I know a lot of people who drink and don’t have drinking problems. I know people who smoke weed and don’t have weed problems. I know people who do drugs recreationally. So I’ve never been one to say that alcohol and drugs are bad. I’ve always been one to say, “I’m bad on alcohol and drugs.” That’s it. I mean, there’s no lecture coming. There’s no holier than now or anything else. But if you’ve got an issue and you’ve got a problem, I might have an answer for you. Maybe, I don’t know.
KiKi Maroon: Hahaha. I do like the idea of, “the Addicts Comedy Tour brought to you by Bud Light,” though.
Kurtis Matthews: That was hilarious! I’ll show you that poster sometime. Mark and I are like, “Really? All these years of sobriety and we’re sponsored by Bud Light?!”
KiKi Maroon: Hahaha that’s awesome! I think that that’s another reason why I reached out to you. When you did the tour at the Joke Joint, there were plenty of people drinking at the show. And that’s you know… with my show, the Burly Q Lounge, I’m just trying to bring them entertainment. I just want to make them laugh. I want to make them happy for the night. The bar is making a lot of money and I’m not uncomfortable with it. I want them to have a good night – period. And I’ve had people kind of ask me like, “Well, is that weird that you’re encouraging drinking?” I was like, “No, I’m encouraging fun! If that’s what fun means to them, that’s fine by me!” And so, to see somebody else in entertainment where it wasn’t like, “Okay, no beer tonight while we’re performing.” I liked that it was normalized.
Kurtis Matthews: Every club is different with us. Some clubs are like, “Everybody knows this is sober night.” So they don’t drink. But also, if Mark and I are working at a comedy club. The normal function of a comedy club is to sell alcohol. “But I thought it was to provide comedy for the masses.” No, it’s to sell alcohol.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah, they gotta keep their doors open.
Kurtis Matthews: “I thought it was because the art form…” No, it’s to sell alcohol. What sells alcohol? Butts in the seat? What gets butts in the seat? That guy who swallows a sword and juggles and steals jokes.
KiKi Maroon: Haha. That’s me.
Kurtis Matthews: No, what? You don’t steal jokes. But anyway, we never interfere with the normal course of business. That being said, we have a lot of people who come to see this are either normal or are families of alcoholics. Like you’ll have what’s known as Al-Anon or Nar-Anon. They come and they just want to have a good time and maybe have a drink because they’re normal.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah.
Kurtis Matthews: So they come and watch the freaky alcoholics and drug addicts on stage, you know.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah. Like I said, I like that it’s normalized. That’s something that I wanted.
Kurtis Matthews: It could be, or not. There are times when we work churches or I don’t care.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah.
Kurtis Matthews: I mean, I don’t care what people do. I mean, most of the time, if you work a rehab, people come walking in and they’re high, so…
KiKi Maroon: Oh really? Haha.
Kurtis Matthews: I don’t know. Whatever you want, we’ll work a church, we’ll work a facility, we’ll work a club, you know, we’re not going to tell you how to work your business.
KiKi Maroon: Yeah. I like that. Okay. So I know that we need to get going. You’re super, super busy. So, the final question I ask everybody is – if you could snap your fingers and everyone around the world instantly believed two things, what would they be and why? The only thing is one of them has to be for the good of humanity, to make the world a better place. The other one has to be completely selfish and self-serving.
Kurtis Matthews: Okay. All right. Well, it’s interesting and kind of funny. It’s almost a good joke structure already.
KiKi Maroon: Almost.
Kurtis Matthews: Okay. Two things, people do this a lot, right? They’ll go, “Hmmm… Two things…” We’ll work on me first, just because that’s what you would want as a selfish person.
KiKi Maroon: Okay.
Kurtis Matthews: Okay, I got it. I would want everyone in the world to believe that my father was an amazing dude. That’s for me. For them, I would want them all to believe that we all have worth. And we, as a people, are worth saving. That’s what I would want them to believe.
KiKi Maroon: Those are both beautiful. But I’ve got to back up. Why the first one?
Kurtis Matthews: My dad was one of the most humble guys ever. And I thought he was awesome. I just think more people needed to know him…. Oh man. You’re going to end it like this. Here we go…
KiKi Maroon: We’re going.
Kurtis Matthews: Buckle up! My dad. I used to think he was the goofiest dude. You know what I mean? He was from Oklahoma. So he couldn’t pronounce, “Massachusetts.” He calls it, “Matatoosis, Matatoosis.” And Hawaii was always, “Huwhyuh, Huwhyuh.” And he was this goofy guy. He didn’t know the ends to songs. He would whistle them anyway, just because he was happy. It’d be like, “You’re a grand old flag [whistle in place of words] and something and something and the home of the [whistle in place of words].”
So yeah, he didn’t know songs. He would just sing. He was happy and every day he would wake up and he would call my mom, “his bride,” and would open the door for her. I was like, “This guy is so goofy in love.” And every time they went to the car, he would open the side door for her. And I thought he was one of the most simple, Oklahoma, hay-seed dudes. I wanted a complicated dad. I wanted a dad that had more money. I wanted a dad that was more complicated. And as he was dying, I remember sitting in the hospital room. The guy was the funniest dude ever. And he wakes up, and he goes, “What are you doing here?” And I said, “I’m just watching you sleep.” He said, “You want me to say something fatherly?” And I’m like, “Yeah, sure.” And he goes, “Get the fuck out of here!” Haha. And I said, “All right, Pop.”
And when he died, I realized what he taught me was love. Unconditional love for everybody and everything. And he didn’t talk about it much, but the guy was a Staff Sergeant at the prison camps in Belgium that were bringing Nazi war criminals. He was a badass but he never talked about it. He didn’t talk about it. Just a badass. A sweet, a loving man. And the only reason why my parents’ relationship of 60 years broke up was because he was selfish and died. I just wish more people knew him. That’s all. So that’s why. He was a simple, loving, and sweet guy and my hero actually. So there you go.
KiKi Maroon: That’s wonderful.
Kurtis Matthews: You’re wonderful.
KiKi Maroon: You made me forget what the second one was. We’re going to just end on that very serene moment.
Kurtis Matthews: Bring me back in a year when it’s all falling apart again. Haha.
KiKi Maroon: You know what? We are, because you mentioned love addicts and I can have a whole conversation about that.
Kurtis Matthews: Oh, that’ll be fun.
KiKi Maroon: So yeah. We’ll have a separate conversation about love addiction, because… fuck. Haha. Thank you so much, Kurtis.
Kurtis Matthews: Thank you.
KiKi Maroon: I really, really appreciate this. I really appreciate you.
Kurtis Matthews: Yeah, I appreciate you.
[Theme song: “Last Call” provided by The Last Domino]
That was me and Kurtis! We mentioned love addiction and I said I would bring him back on a future episode to talk about it. But that’s not going to happen. It’s time to let y’all know that the next episode is the final episode of Clown, Interrupted. I’ll explain everything next week, but I just wanted to give y’all a little bit of notice. As for love addiction, if the phrase alone resonates with you, I highly recommend looking into it. For some people, it’s a stand-alone condition. And for some people, like me, it’s one of the core issues that led to other addictions.
An article by Psychology Today explains, “By nature, we need emotional bonds to survive and we instinctively seek out connection, especially romantic connection. There’s nothing dysfunctional about wanting love. Love addiction, however, is a compulsive, chronic craving to get our sense of security and worth from another person. During infatuation we believe that we have that security only to be disappointed and empty again once the intensity fades. The negative consequences can be severe. And yet the love addict continues to hang onto the belief that true love will fix everything.” ACK! Kind of hurts!
Another article from Addiction.com, which I will link in the show notes, further explains, “Usually love addicts learn relatively early in life that an effective way to numb out or not feel difficult emotions like shame, fear, depression, and anxiety is to escape into the intense and distracting neurochemical rush of romantic fantasy. In short, if a love addict is focused on how hot a new person is and how wonderful their life will be when they’re together, the addict is able to avoid focusing on his or her problems, whatever they may be. As such, love addiction is less about the search for love and more about finding a way to control tough emotions.”
Oh man! They say, “control emotions,” but really it’s about perceived control, by altogether avoiding difficult emotions. And if you listened to previous podcasts, you know that avoiding things is my jam! I literally ran away with the circus to not have to face reality, but that’s just the most extreme example. I’ve also run away via relationships, both real and imaginary, many, many times. Understanding and working through this has made my life exponentially better.
I spent a lot of the early episodes of the podcast not understanding how to date or fuck. Feeling like my sobriety was ruining my romantic life. But now I know that’s not even a little bit true. I hadn’t really gotten into all this with y’all, but let’s just say I’m dating – and fucking – just fine now! Haha. But looking back, I think I was avoiding intimacy because I know that I’ve had this love addiction pattern of losing myself in other people. And I did so much work healing myself, I didn’t want to risk losing it all for some dick. So I put up a lot of barriers – barriers that I just don’t need anymore.
But what I do need is for you to rate this podcast! Hahaha rating and reviewing the podcast on whatever platform you’re listening on helps me a lot. It shows the powers that be that this is a legit show and it keeps the accounts active. Even if the next episode is the last one, I’m still going to keep up the websites and hosting because, I don’t know. Maybe in a day, or a year, or in five years, someone will Google, “I can’t stop drinking,” and this will pop up and help them. So no matter when you’re listening to this, please rate and review it to keep it alive. I’ll be back next week.
In the meantime, let’s keep in touch! You can always find me on Twitter or Instagram @KiKiMaroon. If you want the stuff specifically for the podcast, that’s on Instagram @Clownpod. And of course you can also find me on Patreon. Patreon.com/kikimaroon is a cool place where you can show your support for this show or any of the shows that I’m doing, by sending anywhere between a dollar a month or a thousand dollars a month. No one’s done that one, but I just keep putting it out there! Haha. It’s just a really cool platform that allows all the shows to keep running. So there’s more info on that in the show notes. Whether you want to call it a donation or a tip, it’s all very much appreciated. And as always, I want to thank The Last Domino for the theme song. You can find out more info about him or purchase the full track in the show notes. Thanks for listening. I will see you next week.