Tom Segura has a really funny story about the time he overdosed on a slew of drugs in college and ended up in a coma. He's fine now, but if you've ever seen him perform, you might think he just came out of it.
"I'm almost not alive up there," the 36-year-old stand-up comedian says. "I think some people really respond to it or, once in a while, there's somebody that's like, 'that guy is just not energetic enough for me.'"
Segura's demeanor may not be kinetic, but that doesn't mean he doesn't put a lot of energy into his craft. It's the combination of his stage persona and a finely honed, occasionally offensive mix of observational wit, self-deprecating humor and vivid storytelling that's helped him become a high-rising and highly respected personality in stand-up comedy.
A Cincinnati native, Segura knew he wanted to do some kind of comedy when he was young. He later moved to Los Angeles and became a member of the legendary Groundlings sketch comedy and improv troupe. He had a few comedians in class who did stand-up in bars and clubs around L.A., and when he joined them to give it a try, he found something more intriguing and satisfying.
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"Improv is so unpredictable. It could bomb or it could go crazy well, but you had to rely on others," he says. "Improv is playing with others and stand-up is 100 percent just you."
Segura really started to do well at the Hollywood Improv, which led to him getting gigs at other Improv clubs around the country. He developed his self-described "lane" as a consummate club comic like one of his early stand-up idols, Dave Attell, and began to see the best punchlines came when he got personal.
"I'm better at talking about myself now and better at storytelling. (Back) then, it was much more joke-centered. It didn't have anything to do with me," he says. "It's like you're really kind of becoming yourself on stage. There's not that big of a difference between you on and off stage after a while."
Segura has managed to pop up at plenty of other places in addition to stages at the nearest comedy club and at some of the top comedy festivals around the world. He's made television appearances on Conan and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, landed a half-hour Comedy Central Presents special and got to show off some acting chops on the network when he acted and co-wrote in the short series Cut Man.
When he's not performing stand-up, he's frequently a guest on radio shows like The Bob & Tom Show and numerous comedy podcasts hosted by some of those closest to him, whether it's The Joe Rogan Experience or his own podcast, Your Mom's House, which he co-hosts with his wife and fellow comedian Christina Pazsitzky.
"The podcast thing is just something I associate with fun now. A good podcast is the least amount of work you ever do," he says. "My wife and I do it every week, but it's easy to do because we have such good chemistry."
After releasing his third hour-long stand-up special Completely Normal on Netflix in 2014, Segura just finished recording an as-of-yet untitled special slated for release early next year. He said his latest material is a further dive into a storyteller style and a lot of it is what Lexington will hear when he makes his first appearance at Comedy Off Broadway for one night only on Sunday.
Even though he might not show it on stage, Segura is pretty excited about how both his career and development are progressing. He admits he occasionally has to force himself out of the house to go do stuff because he knows an interesting experience might be waiting for him — and he said it's all worth it if it gives him the chance to write great material and be a more improved comic than he was the night before.
"I want to keep progressing. I don't necessarily know what that is, but I just want to be a truer version of myself out there," he says. "As long as you feel like you're getting better and the experience is interesting, that's really the most you can hope for."