Comedian Craig Gass is doing his stand-up thing January 25-26 at the Winspear Opera House. But first he will roast Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider, alongside a motley crew of that includes Penn Jilette, Jim Norton, Weird Al Yankovic, Donald Trump, Alice Cooper, and Lemmy from Motorhead.
It will be the first-ever roast set for a live, uncensored TV broadcast. It airs January 24 on AXS TV (formerly HD Network), Mark Cuban's new network, which he co-owns with Ryan Seacrest.
The impersonator and voice talent extraordinaire — Family Guy, American Dad, The Cleveland Show — took a break from prepping for the Dee Snider roast to talk to CultureMap about growing up in a deaf household (his mother, father and sister are deaf), why he felt like a porn star on the set of Sex and the City, his special connection to Mark Cuban, and why he hopes to make Dallas audience members laugh until they fart.
“There should never be anything off-limits,” Gass says. “If you go into a comedy show and get upset about anything, you are missing the point.”
CultureMap: Take us through a typical day in the life of Craig Gass.
Craig Gass: First things first. Usually — and this is no joke — I try to figure out where I am for a second. Then I run out to do morning radio and TV, then back to my hotel, where I might prank call other rooms in my hotel to pass the time.
CM: What’s something most people don’t know about you?
CG: I cried no less than seven times at the movie Stuart Little. I wish that was a joke, but it's not. I don't know if I was retaining water that day, but, hey, it happened.
CM: You really made a name for yourself as a regular guest on the Howard Stern show impersonating celebrities. Who is your favorite person to impersonate and why?
CG: I love doing Tracy Morgan because he is certifiably insane. If you yell out his name during the shows that I'm doing [at the Winspear] this weekend, I'll be happy to tell a story during my show about how Tracy Morgan threw a party that turned into an orgy. It involves Dave Chappelle and the craziest three words to summarize an orgy ever.
CM: Is there any subject matter that’s off-limits in your show?
CG: No. There should never be anything off-limits. If you go into a comedy show and get upset about anything, you are missing the point. My whole family is deaf (true story, that's not a joke) and even they make deaf jokes. My favorite was my sister, who said, "Wanna hear a good joke?" And I said, "Of course." And she said, "Me too." So, yes, people need to lighten up.
CM: Who is a famous person you’ve met who was nothing like what you imagined he or she would be?
CG: Alec Baldwin does amazing impressions and loves to hang out and tell stories. He actually goes to comedy clubs to support comedian friends of mine, and not only does he not show up with an entourage, he'll actually show up by himself. That's just cool to me.
CM: Can you share a crazy story about a celebrity run-in that you haven’t talked about before?
“Fortunately I've dated some deeply disturbed women, so that supplies me with a tremendous amount of material,” Gass says.
CG: Christopher Walken hated me, because another comedian [Richard Belzer] kept trying to get me to do my Walken impression for Walken during dinner before a roast at The Friar's Club. Walken finally stopped me and said, "Listen, I get it, you're talented, good for you."
CM: You have worked in radio, TV and, of course, on stage. What’s your favorite and why?
CG: Well, in my first TV gig I had to perform a sex act for 19 hours on the set of Sex and the City, so that was different. Thank God it was with a girl (not that there's anything wrong with that).
CM: What can audiences expect from your show?
CG: Heavy laughing. Hopefully, laughing until you fart. That's a pretty healthy laugh.
CM: What is your favorite source of material for your show? Do you have a muse?
CG: Fortunately I've dated some deeply disturbed women in my past, so that supplies me with a tremendous amount of material.
CM: What do you think of Dallas?
CG: Love Dallas from the first time I came here to perform about 10 years ago. I came in to do my first radio appearance, which was The Pugs and Kelly Show, and I'm waiting in the lobby with another guest who's going on, and this dude's name is Mark. And I say, "Cool, what are you here to promote?" And he says he's here to promote the Dallas Mavericks season kicking off that day.
So I say, "Man, is that tonight? Can I still buy a ticket to that?" and the guy says, "Oh, I can leave you a ticket." I still have that ticket, and so does Pugs, who went with me. The guy was Mark Cuban, and the ticket was a courtside seat. I'm really hoping that saying this out loud doesn't make Mark's next few run-ins with strangers more difficult today.
CM: Can you share a story that you haven’t yet about what it was like growing up with deaf parents?
CG: I can share a few that they haven't heard. (Get it?) No, seriously, people have this misconception that a deaf household is so quiet, but it's the opposite. I would crank the TV, crank the stereo and was never told to shut up. As a result, I'm weird to this day.
CM: Is it true you book your tours around the Mariners and Seahawks schedule? Why?
CG: Because I'm a moron. I'm one of like, seven or eight Mariner fans on the planet, and apparently I love pain. Being able to do comedy shows in cities when your favorite teams are playing is a blast, though. I'm living out every dream I've ever had when I was 8. I'm seeing my favorite teams play all over the country, and I drink chocolate milk whenever I want.
CM: You travel a lot doing shows. What’s it like living out of a suitcase? Where is “home”?
CG: I love living in hotels, and I love my Do Not Disturb sign. Home is in LA now, unfortunately, because that's where I've been getting voiceover work on Family Guy, American Dad and The Cleveland Show.
CM: What’s the hardest part about being a comic?
CG: Lack of sleep.
CM: Is there anything you would like to add?
CG: Yes. Please don't bother Mark Cuban and tell him that a comedian said that he's generous with strangers. I don't need those kinds of problems.