Josh Leidy: You grew up in the area, correct?
Joe DeRosa: I was born in the Northeast, but early on we moved. So, I grew up in Collegeville or Trappe. But as a kid, I hung out a lot with my cousins in Northeast Philly and had family in Norristown. So I got a good experience of the area.
JL: I know you grew up a big hip-hop head. What drew you to hip-hop?
JD: The rebelliousness. I went to catholic school up to 12th grade, and did the church thing every Sunday, and I hated all of it. So I was really attracted to the rebelliousness of it. It started with Run DMC’s Raising Hell. That’s still my favorite album of all time, across all genres. But when I heard ICE-T, it was over. He was describing this world that I had no concept of. It was mesmerizing to me. And I feel really blessed to have experienced in real time the development of a major music genre. That’s not something everyone gets to experience. It’s like experiencing the Jazz scene in the 1920s or the British invasion in the ’60s. It’s the rebellious nature that I love, same with punk, even in comedy with people like Carlin.
JL: Did you start in the area doing stand-up?
JD: Yes, I did my first sets ever at a place called New Road Brewery in Collegeville. But I really got my start at The Laugh House. The legendary TuRae Gordon really took me under his wing. He gave me some great lessons over the years. Probably the most important, we were doing a showcase one night. And I had a strong set, but a couple of guys smashed. We were talking after and he was like “You were really good tonight.” I was like a year in at that point and I really needed to hear that, especially in those early stages. I said to him other guys killed, and he was like “they may have hit harder than you but the audience was feeling you, do you understand what I’m saying?” It taught me there was a difference in killing and connecting. For me, I realized it’s about a vibe.
Like I love Seinfeld, it’s like watching an expert violinist, and then there’s Ari Shafir and it’s like watching Ice Cube. There are different vibes.
JL: What do you love about comedy most?
JD: I love that it’s a place to voice my opinions. That’s important to me in this awful divided tribalistic culture we’re living in now. There are a few forums to truly voice your opinion anymore where it’s worthwhile. It falls on deaf ears online because there’s zero nuance. So, I feel like stand up, live performance, is the best forum for you to express your ideas. I feel like podcasts are a place for that too. I’ve found it’s the best way for me to get my opinions across in an entertaining way.
JL: You have a captive audience, and if they are there they are there to see you, they want to hear what you have to say.
JD: Yes, exactly. We’re all humans in this room having this experience together. So I find people more willing to listen. I think that’s why we’ve lost so much. I think texting has ruined so much of how we communicate. No one writes proper sentences anymore, there’s no context, and everyone expects an instant response. It’s sick. And social media is the worst possible extension of it. Everything’s lost in translation. It’s a horrible time to be alive, that’s what the new hour of comedy is about, hahaha. It’s been described as an hour of hopeless comedy, that’s the attitude. I’m not preaching or trying to convince anyone to change anything. I’m just finding the humor in it all the way through.
JL: I did want to quickly touch on the music, you released a new record under the name Salsa Windfall right?
JD: Me and my partner Paul Chell recorded it about seven years ago. But both of us were busy in our regular lives, I was in LA writing for television and he was a chef in New Orleans, but we never really stopped working on ideas and writing. Then one time on my podcast Taste Buds, I was out and my friend Brian Quinn was filling in and brought up that I did music. So now we’re both at a point and thanks to support from the listeners we decided to release that album we had sitting. I love to work on music with Paul, we have a great time and I’m thankful to be in a place to have support doing it. We just did our first show and it was great, so we are looking to do more.
Joe DeRosa will be at the Theater of the Living Arts this Saturday with his new hour I Never Promised You a Rose Garden. For more check out JoeDeRosa.com.