The Flim Flam Man: Standing and Sitting with Rich Vos

Making people laugh comes easy to Rich Vos. As the type of comic who can work a room with a continually evolving set, Vos is constantly finding the funny in life.

“I always write new material,” says Vos. “Hopefully I’ll come up with a new bit here and there and then I try to put together a new hour. You’ll never see the same show twice.”

Vos is still recognized regularly for his work on the first and third seasons of NBC’s Last Comic Standing, along with being a regular on Comedy Central’s beloved and departed “Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn.” Most recently, he collaborated on a film with his wife, fellow comic Bonnie McFarlane, called Women Aren’t Funny. We caught up with Vos for a conversation about the film, the end of his career and voice care.

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Kevin Stairiker: How long was the process of filming Women Aren’t Funny?
Rich Vos: Filming it took about two or three years because we’d film and re-edit and then talk to someone else. Then, you know, Christopher Hitchens passed away so we had to come up with a new twist on that. And then with shooting and editing and legal, it took around four years to get the movie out there.

KS: Was there a specific event that led to the making of the documentary?
RV: Well, it’s Bonnie’s project, but she did a bit in a comedy magazine on women and then Christopher Hitchens, who she loved, wrote that thing for Vanity Fair about women not being funny. So she told me the idea and I said let’s do it. [It was] her feminist project that I financed. But it’s a documentary with a beginning, middle and end, so it’s not your typical “comedy documentary” where you sit down and you go, “Oh, I had it tough as a kid…” It’s a movie.

KS: In the instances in the film where your fellow male comedians like Adam Corrolla were going face-to-face with Bonnie saying that women weren’t funny, did you pull them aside afterwards and ask “Do you really think that?”
RV: No, because really, Patrice [O’Neal] did come around and say “Well, this one’s funny and that one’s funny” and like Adam said, you have to give some kind of answer. And look, not everyone likes hamburgers, some people like hot dogs, I don’t know. Some people like apples over heroin.

KS: I assume you’re on the side of your wife in the debate? What’s your take on it?
RV: Funny is funny to me. Look, the greatest comics to me growing up probably were male. But now, Maria Bamford or Janeane Garafalo or my wife or Sarah [Silverman]. There’s a lot of funny female comics out there. But to be funny is different, not only on stage but, are you funny sitting around at the Comedy Cellar with the guys? It’s hard to say. Do you like anything with different variations of that thing, do you know what I mean?

KS: It’s hard to make a blanket statement.
RV: Yeah. I mean, there’s a lot of bad male comics and a lot of bad female comics.

KS: You’ve got a couple specials under your belt, do you have any new releases in the pipeline?
RV: I’m working on doing a new hour.

KS: Are you doing material for that now?
RV: I shot it but now I don’t like it, so now I’m going to go back into editing or re-shoot it.

KS: Do you not like the jokes themselves or how it turned out?
RV: No, no, I like the material. I’ve added new material since we shot it in March. I don’t like the angles, so I might re-shoot it in a bigger venue. Or a smaller venue. And it’s good. I just talked about it yesterday with my manager, so we’re trying to figure out what to do. The last two CDs were really good. The first one was really funny because it’s your first one, the second one was OK. The third one was Still Empty Inside and then 141 IQ, the fourth one, were pretty good. But I think the fifth one will be the best and that’s when I quit comedy. I’ll do an hour somewhere, then buy an RV and leave my family behind and go play golf.

KS: So you don’t want to go the George Carlin route and do specials until the end?
RV: No, I want to get a small RV and forget about everybody. I’ll go small town to small town, working saloons and playing golf. Kind of like Tin Cup meets The Flim Flam Man. You know that movie where George C. Scott was a scam artist traveling around? Anyhow, a lot of people before they make a statement, they know what they’re talking about. Not me. I just throw out a name and hopefully that’s the title.

KS: Roughly how many hours a week of radio and podcasts do you do?
RV: About three minutes. No, three hours. Two hours of radio and an hour podcast. But sometimes I’m a guest on another show, so it depends. But we do our show Tuesday night 7-9 p.m. on Sirius.

KS: When you’re touring around, are you calling in to the shows? Are you still finding time to do them?
RV: I’ll do them before I leave. Like today, I was going to play golf, but its a little cold out so we’ll do the podcast today and I’ll golf tomorrow. Boy, I have it tough.

KS: With all of the combined talking that you do, is there anything you do to take care of your voice?
RV: Uh, no (laughs). Jesus Christ, I’m not fucking Pavarotti. Sometimes the sound system sucks and you’ve got to yell or do whatever and that can be a pain in the goddamn ass. Usually it doesn’t matter, but a couple weeks ago it was really killing me. Nobody’s ever asked me a voice question before; who puts you on the spot like that?

KS: Sorry, I’ve got to ask the tough questions.
RV: That’s alright. Jesus.

Rich Vos performs at the Harrisburg Comedy Zone (110 Limekiln Rd, New Cumberland, PA 17070 ) on January 22 and 23 at 9 p.m. and 8 p.m. respectively. Visit Harrisburgcomedyzone.com for ticket information.


 

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Posted in Comedy, Out & About – Harrisburg

Kevin Stairiker is a features writer for Fly. He is a graduate of Temple University and enjoys writing in third person. When he isn't writing, he's probably playing guitar for a litany of bands, reading comics or providing well-needed muscle at The Double Deuce.

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