Whether the thoughts in his head are transported via a pen, a microphone or an Internet connection, comedian/writer/podcast host Greg Fitzsimmons is happy as long as an audience gets to hear his material.
But he admits there is something particularly gratifying in what he is able to accomplish almost every weekend as a stand-up comedian.
"You're getting to talk for an hour while everyone else shuts up," Fitzsimmons said. "That's an amazing gift to get in life."
You could make the argument that Fitzsimmons, 49, had comedic gifts that almost came naturally. The New York City native's father was a popular radio personality and he said this, combined with his Bronx-Irish upbringing, provided "the basic tenets of stand-up comedy." He would travel to downtown Manhattan to the city's comedy clubs to hear the likes of Paul Reiser, Richard Belzer and Jerry Seinfeld before getting on stage himself.
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"For me, it was like I had seen it done so many times. I didn't know if I could do it or not, but I wanted to jump out of a plane to see how it felt like once," he said. "It felt like the first thing I had ever done in my life that I was good at."
Fitzsimmons soon developed a style that blends biting wit on observational and personal humor with an unrelentingly sarcastic punch. It would eventually lead to appearances on a variety of late-night talk shows, a pair of Comedy Central Presents specials and as a regular contributor to VH1's popular series Best Week Ever. When he wasn't on screen, he was behind the scenes as a writer for a slew of sitcoms and talk shows, most notably as the head writer for Chelsea Lately and as a four-time Daytime Emmy Award winner for his work on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
If you haven't experienced Fitzsimmons' humor either on stage or through his writing, you can fairly easily hear him on-air or online. He hosts his popular comedy podcast FitzDog Radio twice a week and, after dozens of appearances on The Howard Stern Show, he was given his own radio hour, The Greg Fitzsimmons Show, on Sirius XM. Fitzsimmons said these two shows, where he often interviews his comedy peers and other celebrities, might be the most fun he has when he's not on stage.
"The podcast is an amazing thing. Not only is it a way to sort of keep in touch with your listeners and your fans, but it's such a natural extension of comedy. It's like stand-up, but you're doing all the stuff between the jokes," he said. "I can't imagine having my life without having these two different interviews a week where I'm having a connective experience with people I care about and people I like and respect."
Fitzsimmons has a lot of respect for the craft of comedy and the people that create it, which makes what he's currently attempting to do on stage more than a little bit ironic.
He made headlines recently when a Q&A published on Esquire.com detailed his latest endeavor — one that's received mixed reviews from the comedy community. He's taken Bill Cosby's material, a performer who he admits is one of his earliest comic idols, and, simply put, telling his jokes during his set like they were his own — and encouraging every other comedian to do the same. Cosby, who has recently faced dozens of sexual assault allegations, has been a controversial figure of late but is still perceived by many in comedy as one of its most monumental and influential figures.
As a longtime fan, Fitzsimmons took Cosby's alleged actions, along with his frequent fatherly chastising of other black comedians, personally. He admits this "performance art piece" is sort of in its infancy stage, but he believes committing comedy's cardinal sin against Cosby will hit him where it hurts.
"I think he's the artist that is closest to me that's done something this horrible," he said. "I think, what's the broken bottle that I can gnash into this guy's gut, and that's stealing from him."
When Fitzsimmons comes to Comedy Off Broadway, it'll be his own material that takes center stage. He said he has an entire hour's worth of new material that will become the follow-up to his 2013 stand-up special Life on Stage. As a husband and father of two, he jokes the new special is tentatively titled Trapped in a Happy Marriage. He said it will be some of his most singular and personal material to date.
"I wanted to wait until I had an hour that reflected where I'm at now versus where I was," he said. "It's committing more to an idea and taking it further than I've ever taken it before."
Fitzsimmons is staying pretty busy when he's not on stage, between his podcast, his radio show and shows he's written that are either on the air (He said they just finished season two of his TRU TV show How To Be A Grown Up) or still in development. He said he has aspirations to potentially go beyond simply writing for a TV show someday, like either doing a Louie-esque TV show or trying his hand as a talk show host. But for now, he's happy he's got plenty of ways to do the one thing he enjoys the most.
"My whole reason in life is to come up with ideas that make people stop and say, 'That's cool. That's funny. That really makes me laugh,' and just go out and do them," he said.