Interview: Robert Piper

Robert Piper: What are some of the hardest obstacles you’ve had to overcome in your life?

Greg Walloch: As a person with cerebral palsy who walks with crutches, people have the assumption that I’ve had to overcome a lot of obstacles in my life because of it, and to some degree, I have. However, the most difficult obstacle to overcome is other people’s perception of who a person with a disability is. I like to play with those ideas in my storytelling and comedy.

I got into a cab once in New York. The driver asked, “What happened to you?” I said, “What do you mean?” He persisted. “You know, why do you walk with those things?” I said, “Oh, I’m just really tired.” He snaps, “C’mon, don’t be an asshole!” I’m the asshole, right. Stuff like that goes down on a daily basis, but it makes for some interesting interactions. I enjoy people even when they’re being difficult.

RP: Can you talk about ways you’ve dealt with and overcome criticism?

GW: Honestly, I don’t really see it so much as criticism. An audience’s or individual’s reaction to my work is simply their reaction. Fair enough, you know? We’ve all gathered together, and whatever goes down is what goes down. My job is to stay open to the conversation that’s happening in the room, be present, listen, and respond. I hope everybody has a great time, including me.

One time, I opened for some strippers in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I got up and did half an hour of comedy on the mic in front of the bunch of horny men sitting in the dark. These guys were like, “What the f—k is this?” They were heckling and literally threw their drinks on me, but in order to get paid, I had to do the full thirty minutes. It was such a hard-core crash-and-burn that it just suddenly became hilariously funny to me. Backstage, the dancers said, “You were great! We loved you. Those guys are jerks.” That’s one way to overcome criticism: tank so hard that failing becomes glorious and meaningless. I also learned, never try to be funny right before people are about to masturbate.

RP: What inspires you in life?

GW: Great stories, beautiful flaws, good food.

RP: What projects are you currently working on?

GW: I host Eat Your Words the first Thursday of every month at The Standard, Hollywood.

Everybody eats and everyone has a story to tell. I wanted to create an evening that gives folks that feeling of community—that moment where you take a break in your day and just sit around the kitchen table, sharing stories over some great food and a bottle of wine. Eat Your Words provides an opportunity for Los Angeles audiences to meet some of their favorite performers, storytellers, and local chefs on a personal level. It will premiere as a podcast in early 2015.

RP: How do you come up with new material for your comedy routines?

GW: I pay close attention.

Greg Walloch is a comedian, storyteller, and writer. He has been featured on the Peabody Award-winning series The Moth Radio Hour. He also appears in USA Network’s Characters Unite and at The Standard, Hollywood.



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