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Tom Segura is back in the spotlight.
The comic and prolific podcaster is readying his fifth Netflix stand-up special. This one, titled Tom Segura: Sledgehammer, will roll out globally July 4.
The Ryan Polito-directed hour, which he filmed before a sold-out crowd at Phoenix’s Celebrity Theater, focuses largely on Segura’s comedian wife, their two young sons, his now widowed mom, who’s been sharing his gummies to hilarious results and…Brad Pitt. It is the first in a two-special deal that Segura inked with the streaming service in 2022.
Fresh off his latest global tour, Segura hopped on the phone to talk about the new hour, his 4- and 7-year-old sons’ take on their father’s fame, his own Hollywood ambitions and how his Ted Cruz bit landed around the world.
You just wrapped your latest tour, which had you all over the world. That can’t be easy with two young kids at home…
I just got home two nights ago. I did my last show in Iceland and then flew back and, yeah, at that age, you miss a month, and you’re like, “Whoa, dude, you’re like a different person.” It was a long time. Too long.
Presumably that was a byproduct of the pandemic — having not been able to be on the road and, at least at the beginning, wondering if you ever would be again?
Oh, yeah. It’s hard to put yourself in that head space again because now, honestly, anybody who talks about pandemic stuff, you’re like, “Are you still talking about that?!” But you’d talk to your agent at the beginning there and they’d be like, “Yeah, dude, I don’t know. I don’t know what’s coming back and when. You can go to this club in Oklahoma City, they’ll let you do a show.” And you would [agree to it]. It was just a whole different world.
Now here you are, and you are about to release your fifth Netflix special. What was important to you with this one?
Even though it’s not the whole set, a big thing for me was dealing with my father’s death. Obviously, it didn’t play like, “Hey, this is a real serious thing I’m gonna talk about,” but it was definitely something that sat with me. I will say I’m really pleased with the special. I made some really grown-up decisions.
I really wanted this to be a tighter special. When I look back at my old specials, I always regret not cutting out more, so I made this grown-up decision to cut big chunks out that had really killed. There was one about being abroad that killed live but it didn’t need to be in the special. There was one that felt dated, and then there was one we really contemplated because, actually, one of the Netflix executives was like, “I love that bit.” But it was four minutes, and we’ve now at 61 minutes, and we’ll probably end up releasing the bits [that were edited out] online. So, people will still get to see them. But you realize even when you’re touring, if you do 60 minutes tight, and it’s packed with laughs, it’s so much more powerful than 80 minutes that’s kind of loose.
Your comedy isn’t overtly political, but you do a bit in this special about Ted Cruz being particularly disgusting…
So, that means you saw an older [version] because that’s been cut.
Wait, why did you cut that?
We were at 65 minutes, and it was four minutes. That’s the one that the Netflix executive loved.
It’s very funny…
Well, shit, maybe I should put it back in. But, also, I’d look back on specials and feel like something like that, where you say someone’s name or you reference a song or a TV show, quickly feels aged. So I’ve tried to put myself in the mentality of somebody putting the special on in a few years and, you know, yes, he’s very well-known now, but you start to go, will people be like, “Who’s Ted Cruz?”
Nevertheless, you were touring with that bit. Do you give any thought to or have any concern about how a joke like that lands in certain parts of the country?
That was a really interesting one because what I figured out from doing it is that that man is universally loathed. I mean, I did that bit, like you said, in red markets and blue markets, I did it in Canada, I did it in Australia, and sometimes when you travel, you’re like, “Ah, shit, how’s that going to go tonight?” But it crushed basically everywhere. Even in Canada. I know he was born there, but I remember the first time I visited Canada, I was like, “How’s this gonna go here?” And, man, I think it got an even crazier response there.
Your whole family features prominently in the hour, and I’m curious to what extent they have input, and what those conversations were like before you go out on stage, particularly with your mother?
I mean, I don’t check with them at all. (Laughs.) And actually, I had a much harsher bit about [my mom] that I didn’t do in the special. I was like, “Oh, I should do this when she’s dead.” Like, this is too mean. I remember I was doing it for a while [on tour] and then she came to a show and I skipped it at that show and my sister was there, and I told my sister the bit, and she was like, “Oh my God, mom would’ve died in the room.” But my mom has seen me do the closing bit [which is in the special about her getting very high off edibles] and she came up to me after and she goes, “You’re a piece of shit.” That’s what she said to me. But, you know, she still hung out. (Laughs.)
Do your boys have any sense that they’re part of your act? And if not, at what age do you start consulting them?
Well, yesterday, I picked up my youngest, who’s 4, and we were driving and somebody cut me off and I go, “Idiot!” And my son started to laugh and he goes, “You really are a comedian.” I go, “What?” He’s 4 years old, and he says, “That was funny. You said that guy’s an idiot.” He loved it. And the 7-year-old saw me talk about him on [Stephen] Colbert, and he was really kind of fascinated, just staring. And then he corrected something. He was like, “I didn’t say that. I said this.”
So, he’s fact-checking you.
Exactly. And I told him, “I just said it to be funny.” He’s like, “Yeah, but it didn’t go like that.” I’m like, “OK, OK.” (Laughs.) So yeah, they’re starting to grasp it. And then I took the oldest to school and somebody at the school had asked me to sign books [Segura published I’d Like to Play Alone, Please in 2022] and so I did. And then when we walked away, and [my son] goes, “She’s a fan.” I’m like, “What?” “She’s a fan. She asked about your books.” And he goes, “Do you get paid for every book?” And I’m like, “Eh, not really. Books kinda suck, dude.” (Laughs.)
How would you describe your fan base? As in, can you identify your fans as they walk up to you?
It’s usually like, “Oh, this guy kinda looks like me.” Like if I’m at that airport, and he has a beard and needs to lose 20 pounds, I’m like, “Oh, this guy’s about to say something to me. He’s going to be a fan.” And they’re usually dragging their ladies over to me. I wouldn’t say that women are coming up to me left and right [on their own], like, “Oh, I’m a huge fan.” I mean, I have a few and I’m very lucky…but I don’t know, it’s always so much easier to talk about somebody else’s act and somebody else’s fan base because you just see it so much more clearly.
You’ve had parts in a few movies, and I remember you did a CBS pilot a few years back. How much appeal does Hollywood hold for you? Do you look at your pal Bert Kreischer, who has a big movie coming out, and think, “I’d like that”?
Actually, I have something that I can’t tell you about just yet. I’ll give you the scoop when the strike ends. It’s an aspiration that’s about to be a reality.
That’s awesome. I was going to ask, as I have many comedians, do you feel like Hollywood executives know what to do with you and your talent?
No, I don’t think they do. And the reason that this thing is happening is because I did it myself.
What’s been the feedback, historically?
I feel like I’ve been told in the past, like, “Oh, you know, this is the process” and, like, really bullshit is how I would describe it. But a big part of it, too, honestly, is that I have toured so aggressively that I just haven’t been available. There were offers for cool things that came in that I had to be like, “Hey, I’m in fucking Toronto doing shows.” And they’re like, “Well, that’s when this show shoots.” But this tour ending was kind of nice because I knew there was [a break on] the horizon to make this other stuff happen.
Before I let you go, I need to know: Does Brad Pitt have any idea of how prominently he features in the special?
No. No, he does not. (Laughs.)
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