You’ll find comedian Doug Benson in a lot of places: On stage as a stand-up comedian, doing voiceover work in recent films like 2017’s “The Lego Batman Movie” and making occasional appearances acting on television in the FXX series “You’re The Worst.” But where Benson does his arguably most popular work is in the podcast space, whether it is his weekly weed-influenced show “Getting Doug With High” or his “Doug Loves Movies” podcast, which both tend to feature special guests, off-the-cuff antics and a platform for Benson’s odd-ball, observational humor.
Now, Benson is bringing his “Doug Loves Movies” podcast to Lexington’s Comedy Off Broadway to do a live recording on May 7. Prior to his arrival, we asked him some questions via email about his earliest cases of celebrity recognition, the role marijuana plays in his comedic process and projects, and why recording his podcast in front of a live audience works so well.
Herald-Leader: As far as stand-up comedy goes, many comics we’ve interviewed in the past have told us it takes comedians 8-10 years to find “their voice” in stand-up. Was that the case for you and when was it that you started less like your influences and more like yourself?
Doug Benson: No, I found my voice as soon as I started talking. Haha. Yeah, those numbers are fairly accurate. For me, it was, like, six years ‘til I got good enough to get paid for doing it and then another four or five to get truly comfortable on stage. I’ll never stop being influenced by other comedians. Getting to see lots of stand-up and spend time with comics is one of the biggest perks of the biz!
HL: I personally remember first experiencing you on a lot of the VH1 shows like “Best Week Ever.” What did appearing on shows and being a sort of comedic commentator do for your career?
DB: It got people used to my face and my sensibility. It’s funny, to this day, people say to me, “I loved you on the I LOVE THE... shows on VH1.” Trouble is, I was never on those decade wrap-ups. Just the weekly show. But I’ll take the compliment!
HL: Whether it is your stand-up comedy, podcasts (“Getting Doug With High”) or film and TV projects (“The High Court with Doug Benson” on Comedy Central), you haven’t been shy about your affinity for marijuana use and have almost become one of it’s biggest advocates in the comedy community. When and why did that become such a prominent part of your comedy and other projects?
DB: I started talking about smoking pot in my act and realized that it was something people liked hearing about. Then I started performing high and people liked that, too. Soon came the off-Broadway show “The Marijuanalogues,” then the doc(umentary) “Super High Me,” and I was extremely high during those projects, so now I’m just high most of the time. Like I recently tweeted, people always assume I’m high, so I might as well be!
HL: Tell me about how you came up with the idea for “Doug Loves Movies” and how it has evolved through the years? How do you come up with the podcast’s segments and how do you determine which comedians will join you at different stops?
DB: A short time after podcasting was invented, someone came to me and said, “would you like to do a podcast and what would it be about?” I immediately responded, “Movies!” even though I didn’t even know what a podcast was. It started out as “I Love Movies,” a short interview podcast in front of a live audience. Soon I changed it to “Doug Loves Movies,” cuz, you know, branding, and then I started adding trivia games.
I’ve always been a fan of game shows and have even written on a few, so I enjoy coming up with different games to play on my show. Sometimes, an idea for a game will just come to me and other times, they are suggested by fans of the show. As far as determining who my guests will be, it just depends on who is in the town where I’m doing the show. I’m happy to say there are some great comedians joining me on stage in Lexington.
HL: What do you think makes for a good live podcast?
DB: Spontaneity. Studio podcasts can be edited. But what happens in front of a live audience stays in the heads of the live audience. There are no take-backs. And I think funny people are funnier when they are in front of an audience, so I’ve rarely done episodes in a studio.
HL: For people in Lexington who may not have ever attended a live podcast, what should they come to expect when “Doug Loves Movies” comes to Comedy Off Broadway?
DB: I think it would be fair to say that they will laugh, they will possibly learn a thing or two, and they might even be inspired to create their own podcast, movie or whatever. But mostly the laughs thing.
If you go: “Doug Loves Movies” live podcast with Doug Benson and special guests
When: Tuesday, May 7, 7:15 p.m.
Tickets: $20 To have a chance at winning some prizes, bring a movie-themed name tag.
Where: Comedy Off Broadway, 161 Lexington Green Circle