You took a long break between your last stand-up special and your new special, When the Leaves Blow Away. Have you been doing stand-up that whole time?
It was 15 years since I did my last HBO thing, Wicker Chairs and Gravity. I was just playing theaters and I kept focusing on live stuff. I didn't really think about putting out another special. I liked the way my career was, and I liked going back and forth across the United States and some other countries performing live.
Then about two or three years ago, I looked out at the audience before the show and I noticed that most of them were in their 40s and 50s and 60s. There were some people in their 20s, but not many. So I started thinking, "Wow, the last time I did a special, people in college now were only five."
It' weird, comedians make a living on how you notice things, and then I didn't notice 15 years going by.
You seem a lot more upbeat in conversation than your stage persona would let on. Is it difficult to remain deadpan while people are howling with laughter in front of you?
It' not that hard. Even from the beginning, the reason I appeared like that was because I was really concentrating on saying the joke the right way. I know that if you don't say it exactly right, it' not going to work. I was just taking it very seriously. I know that what I'm saying is funny, but saying it the right way was serious.
[Sometimes] they'll be laughing so hard that I almost laugh at them laughing. But most of the time it' not hard.
We want you to ghost-write our dying words. Your character in One Soldier, the short film that appears on the DVD with the new special, says "I get it" before being executed, and in your act you talk about making your dying words "unquote." Do you have your own dying words or your epitaph written yet?