Writing Jokes with Joe List (Letterman)

When it was time I took the stage, blacked out, came to, shook hands with Dave and then came back to the green room.

[@JoeListComedy on Twitter]

What’s your name and where did you grow up?

My name is Joe List and I grew up in Whitman, Massachusetts.

What’s interesting or uninteresting about Whitman?

What’s interesting about the place I grew up is that in claims to be where the chocolate chip cookie was invented.

What was the first bit or joke you performed on stage?

The first jokes I ever told on stage were: “I went to that bar ‘Cheers’ …nobody knew my name.” and “I went to Boston Celtics game…lot of empty seats for a team called the ‘Sell-Tix.’” (I was 18)

When and where did you become a regular?

I became a regular at the Comedy Connection in Boston around 2002. It’s no longer there and I miss it. From late 2002 until in closed in I think 2008, I was there all the time. I loved it dearly and still miss it.

What do you like or dislike about the comedy scene in New York City?

What I love about the comedy scene in New York is that there are so many places to perform. There’s a lot of good clubs and a couple of really great ones. There’s a great alt scene, a lot of good bar shows, a ton of open mic and just a lot of really creative and fun places to perform. I find it to be a really supportive scene. Theres a lot of great comics, I love it.

Walk me through the day you performed on The Late Show with David Letterman.

The day I did Letterman, I woke up and went to the gym, I did a quick workout and then took a steam. Then I went to downtown Manhattan and met up with my friend (name drop) Colin Quinn, we had lunch together. Then I took the subway to Penn Station and met up with my parents who had taken the train down from Boston. They got a hotel a few blocks from the Ed Sullivan Theater. We checked into the hotel, then we ate Chipotle. My friend Jason Kanter and his dad Fred then joined us (they brought my suit). A little later my girlfriend Sarah Tollemache joined us. We hung around the hotel for a while, then we all walked together to the theater. At the theater I met up with my pals (more name dropping) Gary Gulman and Nick DiPaolo. My parents, Fred and Jason went in and sat in the audience. Sarah, Gary, Nick and my then manager Maureen Taran and I all went up to the dressing room and just sort of hung around for a while. It was very low key and enjoyable. Around 10 minutes before I went on, I took the elevator down to the stage level and waited there for a few minutes. Then when it was time I took the stage, blacked out, came to, shook hands with Dave and then came back to the green room.

When I got there I hugged Gary and Nick and Maureen and Sarah. After the show I met back up with my parents and friends. We took some pictures on stage and at Dave’s desk. Then we went and got pizza at Lombardi’s downtown. Then ended the night at the Comedy Cellar. Probably the best day of my life.

Talk about The Ultimate Worrier series. What’s the creative process behind the show? How did it start?

The Ultimate Worrier started as a Tweet. I think I tweeted something like “If I were a wrestler, I would be the ‘Ultimate Worrier’. And then I just thought that that would be a really funny character. A guy who dresses like the Ultimate Warrior but instead just worries about everything. There honestly wasn’t a ton of thought put into it other than that. I had my friend Dan Hirshon help me, he shot it and edited it for me and did a great job. There was no real script or anything, I just talked about some of the things I worry about myself and exaggerated it a bit, and added some other ridiculous things that I don’t actually worry about but thought would be funny if someone did worry about them. That was pretty much it.

Then I got a lot of positive feedback so I did a second series where The Ultimate Worrier interviewed people. Instead of asking them questions about their lives, I asked them about what they worry about and if they worried about things that I worried about. The whole thing was completely absurd, but people seem to really enjoy it.

What’s the dumbest superhero name you can think of?

The dumbest superhero name I can think of is “Dumbman”

You’re shipwrecked off the coast of Sri Lanka but thought ahead and brought a portable DVD player and three movies with you on the trip. Which three movies did you bring?

Forrest Gump, Goodfellas & The Naked Gun.


Joe is a comedian and has a weekly podcast called ‘Tuesdays with Stories’ and he loves you. Bye.


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