Brian Simpson Is the Life of the Goddamn Party


Photo-Illustration: Selman Hoşgör; Photo Courtesy of Subject

This week, we’re highlighting 22 talented writers and performers for Vulture’s annual list “Comedians You Should and Will Know.” Our goal is to introduce a wider audience to the talent that has the comedy community and industry buzzing. (You can read more about our methodology at the link above.) We asked the comedians on the list to answer a series of questions about their work, comedy during the pandemic, and more. Next up is Brian Simpson.

When did you feel that you were funny enough to make a legitimate go at comedy?
When successful comics started telling me so. This was back in San Diego when I first started, and whenever L.A. comics came down to do a show, they told me to keep doing what I was doing.

Describe your comedy in five words.
Life of the goddamn party. 

What of your work do you think you’re best known for, and what of your work are you most proud of?
I’d say my Lights Out set on David Spade. I’ve been proud of all of it at one point, but this feeling is short-lived. It’s like when a parent reminisces while looking at their adult child — they miss the 2-year-old in them.

If there were a ’90s-style sitcom built around you and your material, in which you had to have a different job than comedian, what would be the title and logline?
I ain’t giving y’all free IP, get outta here.

What have you done for comedy during COVID that you thought you would never do?
I performed in the window of the Comedy Store — that may have been my lowest point. To me, that was the comedy equivalent of a crackhead with a flashlight walking down the sidewalk looking for anything that resembles crack.

Who are some of your favorite comedians right now? Who is putting out work that excites and inspires you?
I’m excited for what my friends are doing — some of the people that I started out with are at various stages of their careers, and I just love seeing that. I love the come-up. Tom Segura has been an inspiration of mine, just because of his approach to the game and the way that he treats people.

What is the best comedy advice, and then the worst comedy advice, you’ve ever received, either when you were starting out or more recently?
Best comedy advice: “There’s no wrong in writing, so always write.” Think that was Ralph Harris who said that to me.

The worst comedy advice: I don’t recall any worst advice because I don’t listen to those people. I stricken that shit from the record. I only take advice from people I respect. I forget bad advice immediately.

Tell us one story from your childhood that is a good representation of your life.
When I first asked my mother where babies come from, she said they came from the stork or the cabbage patch or some shit. Then I ran right to the library to look it up and found out where they really came from. I went straight to her and said, “They come from the mom’s ‘paginas.’” That was the only time she ever tried to bullshit me. After that, she always answered my questions directly. 

What’s an embarrassingly earnest goal you have?
To live out in the wilderness, far out from civilization — far enough that my nearest neighbor couldn’t hear a gunshot.

If you had the power to remove anything from the comedy world right now, from trends with material to how the industry operates, what would it be?
It would be the unqualified gatekeepers. Why didn’t y’all ask me ten of these? The list could keep on going.


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