Calling an event The Oddball Festival is leading, as it sets you up for its participants — be it caustic TV hosts, roasters, sketch veterans and stand-up newcomers — to be at the same level of oddity. That couldn't be further from the truth when you consider how radically diverse the oddballs are that will fill Camden's BB&T Pavilion on Sept. 11: HBO's "Last Week Tonight" anchorman John Oliver, "Inside Amy Schumer" sketch artist/writer Kyle Dunnigan, comic/memoirist Sebastian Maniscalo and Pete Davidson of "SNL" — all hosted by Comedy Central roast-master general, Jeff Ross. Dunnigan and Maniscalo chatted with us before the tour hit the East Coast.
You've done great sketch ensemble work with Amy Schumer and "Reno 911," as well as stand-up. What itch do you scratch with each?
They both have pros and cons. I think I prefer sketch just because it's with other people, and that's fun. Stand-up is a monologue. You're out there alone.
You're looking for someone to blame, then.
I would love that.
Since you started and succeeded in New York City, did that give you that "make it there, make it anywhere" feeling?
I do like that Sinatra song, and no, I never felt as if I had conquered comedy being in NYC. Los Angeles really — that's when you're set. Developing and honing in NYC sets you up for making it in Detroit. Los Angeles gives you other options.
So you're good with the other, cornier Sinatra song, "L.A. is My Lady"?
And Chicago is my kind of town.
Are you copacetic and friendly with all of your fellow Oddballs, or do you not care for them particularly well?
I know Jeff Ross — everyone else is an absolute stranger to me.
You have acted, written and hung with Amy Schumer on her show. Do you think "Inside" is really over as she's hinting?
Film is easier to get through and more prestigious — still — than television; not simple, but simply less strenuous when you consider Amy's thing where she's like in every scene. That's a lot of work.
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But you had tons of sketches there. How do you react to rejection?
That's funny, I'd written sketches before for some show on Fox, but back then, I would just hand them in and someone would tell me yea or nay. With Schumer, I felt vulnerable because it was yes or no, right there. Sometimes, even when a thing is half-way out of my mouth I could tell it was going to fail. Amy's room was nice though, most of the time.
As much as I love your work onstage and with Schumer, I've heard your impersonations on Howard Stern, and your Trump is icily good. Are you secretly hoping he becomes president?
If only to continue that impersonation — yes. If not, I got nowhere to go with it.
You're doing "The House" with Will Ferrell and "The Nut Job 2" with Will Arnett. What do you think directors want from you as you go further into film work?
By the looks of it, they only hire me if there is a Will in it. Directors expect me to bring the energy I bring to the stage to the screen — whether it be big facial expressions or physical humor.
I've interviewed Don Rickles and I've interviewed Andrew Dice Clay — both of whom I know you have an affinity for. How do you think you've furthered their agenda, made your mark and kept the art of the politically incorrect aloft and alive?
From Rickles I learned you can make fun of people in a way that is not mean or hurtful if you have humility and incorporate self-deprecating humor — so that you're laughing with people not at them. I was Dice's opening act in Vegas for a couple of years. I learned about showmanship from him; that it wasn't only about the comedy, but also the presentation.
I know you have "Why Would You Do That?" on Showtime starting Oct. 1 and that your autobiography is coming after that. I've been waiting for someone to connect comedy and food. Where are you with the memoir and can you give me a taste of its vibe?
The book will be out 2017. It combines my two passions — laughter and food. Growing up, my first "stage" was the dinner table with my family where we shared funny stories over a meal. The book tells the stories of my lifetime of experiences, observing human behavior through a series of my most memorable meals.
I'm speaking to you and Kyle Dunnigan for the Oddball Fest — but, from the outset was told that John Oliver would do no interviews. Have you anything to say about attitude-y Brits?
I love doing interviews. I don't have any problem with the Brits, but I do have a problem with people shopping at Whole Foods. Come out to the Oddball Comedy Festival — you'll hear why.
Funny or Die’s Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival, Sunday Sep. 11 at 5:15 p.m., BB&T Pavilion, 1 Harbour Blvd., Camden, New Jersey. $125- $22.95. ticketmaster.com