There’s an attitude that comes with comedy, one that helps mold comedians into who they can be on stage. When that personality follows the person off stage, one thing is certain: that person is being 100% themselves.
Geoff Tate is such a laid back person that he could go with the flow of any conversation. In fact, during our last discussion, he was the exact same person as he was last week when we spoke. Tate is back with a brand new album - People Are What People Make ‘Em – on a brand new label. We talk about his latest romp, Jack Reacher and hating onions.
Are you on tour right now?
Geoff Tate: No. I’m about to do a short run in Houston, Austin, Dallas, Baton Rouge and LaFayette. But that’s it.
Have you been to any of those cities before?
Tate: Yeah, I’ve been to all of them before. This is my first time doing standup in Dallas. I think the only time I was there was in 2007 maybe.
When you’re trying out new jokes on the tour, do you like doing that type of stuff or do you want to stick to the same script every night?
Tate: No! I don’t want to do the same script every night. I like to try new stuff because I see no reason to wait. I can find somewhere in the set to do it. I’m not going to wait. I don’t think of it as “I have to totally do this at an open mic” or whatever.
I dig that. I was listening to the album earlier and I found that it was a lot looser than the one that came before it. Listening to that, I heard you just talking with the audience which I find such a great attribute to have as a comedian.
Tate: It’s one of those necessary ones. You have to get good at it if you don’t want to because they never fucking shut up! [laughs]
I could definitely tell with those people [from the album]. As comfortable as you were on stage, they were comfortable with interjecting their laughs or- there was a guy your responded to that you essentially told to shut up and I thought that was such a funny thing.
Tate: [laugh] There you go. You get good at it whether you want to or not.
The last time we spoke, you were just putting out Again. How long had you been working on this album?
Tate: I recorded in July so about seven months. I wanted it to be loose. There are two bits on there that I don’t think I’d ever done before that week. I worked them out that week. I thought that’d be a fun thing to do. If they didn’t work, I wasn’t going to put them on the album. But they did. Now you’re trying to think “which ones are they?” Good luck. They all sound brand new.
I’m hoping the Jack Reacher bit is one. That’s a masterclass in storytelling. That 13 minute track laid up the pins and you bowled a strike right there.
Tate: I appreciate that. I’d done that a few times. I never put it into the show until a month before. I wasn’t sure. Things[were] so specific. I have to explain a lot. There’s a lot of exposition in that bit and I was afraid it’d be too much, like in The Mummy.
That definitely makes sense. When you’re on stage and you’re telling that story, is it all coming back to you since you were in this high haze? You have to relive this one, insane, crazy night?
Tate: No! In a weird way, it becomes something I can’t remember at all. I end up remembering the last time I told the story. You know how, at some point, you’re just remembering how you remembered it? Now I can’t because I can just remember the story. Most of it is true. I can’t picture any of it anymore because I’ve told the story enough. It’s murky. Have you ever seen Looper? It’s like when Bruce Willis gets new memories. I can’t remember what happened in that story without also remembering telling the story a lot. So I don’t know for sure. [laughs]
Who do you think would win in a fight: Jack Reacher, Archer, 007, or Mike Myers’ Austin Powers?
Tate: Jack Reacher.
Tate: No question. Jack Reacher is…when you say that, I’m going with the real one. The one from the book. Even in the movies. Which James Bond? If you can pick whatever James Bond you want, then I can pick whatever Jack Reacher I want.
That sounds plausible. I haven’t the read the Jack Reacher books but I know there’s enough of them for him to be an established character.
Tate: Jack Reacher will fuck all those dudes up. Archer is useless. [laughs] He’s drunk. Austin Powers is also useless. James Bond or Jack Reacher. If it’s hand to hand, I’d take Jack Reacher. Mostly because I don’t think James Bond has the stomach to pull out one of your eye balls.
What about Jason Bourne?
Tate: Oh fuck…That’s tough. If we’re going with the movie version of Jason Bourne, he’s actually physically tougher than the book version of Jason Bourne. That’s tougher. I don’t know. Who I’d like to see the most – because I don’t know the answer to this – who would win in fight between Jack Reacher and Parker from the Parker book series. He’s a master criminal.
I can’t say I’ve heard of that guy.
Tate: Have you ever heard of the movie Payback?
Tate: The Mel Gibson character is Parker. In the movie, he was called Porter. There was a movie with Lee Marvin that was based on one of those books. And a movie with Robert Duvall. They weren’t allowed to use the name Parker until the author died. The first person ever to be called Parker in a movie about Parker was that shitty not great Jason Statham Parker movie in 2013. That book is called [Flashfire]; it’s pretty good. The Hunter is the one Payback is based on. And The Outfit is the one the Robert Duvall one is based on. If I had any follow through, I would start writing fan fiction.
You have enough Twitter followers! I think if you put out one piece of fan fiction, I think at least out of the fifteen thousand people that follow you, ten people would enjoy it.
Tate: Ten. That’s a pretty good ratio. [laughs] If ten out of every fifteen thousand people like me on the planet, I’d be the most famous person on the planet. But if only ten of the fifteen thousand people that follow me on Twitter read that thing, what the fuck are they doing on Twitter? The rest are all Russian bots.
[laughs] You have two tracks that are dedicated to onion hate. When you’re putting this album together with the Jack Reacher story in mind and the onion stuff plus the first track that’s a meta track talking about how uncomfortable you feel on stage in your shirt. How do you put this all together into one, cohesive project?
Tate: Is it cohesive? I don’t have any process for that. I get all those bits together and just do them. I try to figure it out while I’m on stage. That seems very fart sniffy; like I’m a fucking jazz musician. I do it all in different orders. Each bit gets a little longer until the Jack Reacher bit. After the Jack Reacher bit, I bring it down with whatever. It can’t all just be fucking fifteen minute stories…as much as I would like it to be. The longer the stories you have, you have to bill yourself as Garrison Keillor.
You’re basically the first album out on this new label. How does it feel to be a pioneer in the world of comedy?
Tate: Finally! Finally! I’ve been recognized. I feel pretty good. The guy that runs that label was with Rooftop for forever. I’ve known him for a long time. I wanted to make another album. I had it all done basically. I get it all together myself – like with Again I got it all together – and I send it to them. I did all the rest. I was able to do this real quick. I was about to do eight straight days of Doug Benson’s podcast so we just got it done. It would feel like a missed opportunity to not have it ready in time to mention.
I didn’t know I was the first one but I have a lot of faith in those guys. It feels more like a partnership than any of the other labels I’ve worked with. Even working with him at Rooftop, there were a lot more people to deal with. I would call him and he’d have to deal with a bunch of people. Now it’s really streamlined. It’s crazy to think it used to be a whole process. You would have to go somewhere and record it and they would mix it and there were people. Now you can get it all done with Dropbox.
As it gets easier – as it becomes a better process for you – do you think, at some point, you’re going to start your own label and stick it to the man as you put stuff out at a quicker pace?
Tate: No, I don’t need to. I’ve toyed with that idea but I don’t know any of that stuff. I think that if I did that, it would end with me going to jail for not doing the finances right or something. I’m good where I’m at. I feel like I’m [already] going to get stuff out as fast as I want on those labels. We have meetings set to talk about the next one.