By David Gavri
Also known as ‘Cap’, John Caparulo is a Los Angeles comedian best known for his appearances on Chelsea Lately. But that’s not all he’s known for. Cap’s first big break came in 2003 when he appeared in Montreal’s Just for Laugh’s Comedy Festival. From there he appeared on The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn and also the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Cap had the opportunity to feature for the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, and he was also one of the comedians from Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Tour. Caparulo’s first comedy special, Meet Cap, aired in 2008 on Comedy Central. Cap hosts “The Mad Cap Hour” radio show with his wife Jamie Caparulo, and comedian Mark Ellis which is found on Sirius XM as well as iTunes. He is currently in the middle of a tour working on his latest special, which will be filmed at the South Point Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas on April 6th. Cap was cool enough to hang out after the show and share a bit of his wisdom.
So Cap, do you ever perform on stage without a cap?
I’ve never gone on stage without a hat. When I first started, I used to wear my hat backwards. And then my head got fat. [laughs] And then it looked dumb, so I finally turned my hat around probably six years in…? [laughs] But I’ve always been a hat guy. In fact the only time I didn’t wear a hat was when the producer of Last Comic Standing told me I wasn’t allowed—even though they let some other dude wear a fuckin’ monkey mask… [laughs]
How’d you get your start in comedy?
The first time I did stand up, I was 19. Now back then in Cleveland, there was basically NOWHERE to go for an open mic. I had to call [slamming back hand to front hand] THREE MONTHS ahead of time just to get a three minute open mic spot. And my parents knew I planned to do it and they told EVERYBODY! [laughs] So there was ALL this pressure to be funny…and when I finally went…it sucked. [laughs]
So I got scared off from comedy for a little while—I didn’t realize just how long it takes to be funny. You can’t just walk out there and be as funny as you are with your friends. Opening yourself up like that in front of total strangers is a completely different thing. You hafta introduce yourself to them. So I didn’t do it again until I was 21, and that time I kept it to myself. That time I did well, and after that, I never looked back.
Being a college graduate, how did your family react to your decision to pursue a career in comedy?
I was lucky and fortunate that my family was supportive of me doing comedy. In fact, they were disappointed in me when I stopped doing it after my first time, cuz they always thought I was funny.
You were only doing comedy a couple years before you moved to Los Angeles. What made you move so soon?
I moved away to L.A. because I didn’t wanna be around my friends who had real jobs. I didn’t want people I knew coming to see me, watching me struggle. When I started in L.A., I was a door man at The Comedy Store. I couldn’t imagine havin’ people I knew showin’ up and seein’ me there as a door man, ya know? [laughs] But going someplace else like L.A. or New York, you disappear. You go off on your journey to become a man. And then everybody you grew up with sees the finished product. But the climb is SO tough. I couldn’t imagine trying to do it around people that are ya know, in the “real world”.
Guess I need to get outta my home town then, huh?
[laughs] Ehh…now uhh…I don’t wanna be the guy that said, “Hey! Leave your home!” [laughs] But…that’s what helped me. It felt silly bein’ around my friends who got real jobs with their degree…and here I am doin’ five minutes at fuckin’ Chuckles on a Monday night… [laughter] It just didn’t feel right. So when you go off to cities like L.A. or New York, it’s like goin’ to college. Cuz everybody there’s doin’ what you’re doin’: workin’ a day job while tryin’ to patch their act together.
Any advice on the business side of comedy?
The bottom line is, don’t put the cart before the horse. And what I mean is…when I was starting out, I was a door man at the Comedy Store, and there were guys that were like, “So where’s your business card??”
And I’m like, “I…jus…[lets out a deep breath]…on a fuckin…napkin…?” [laughs] And there were a whole lotta guys that would have these NEW…GLOSSY business cards! Yet, you NEVER saw ‘em perform! But they had a bitchin’ card like every month!
[moment of laughter]
So, it’s easy to have a great business look to ya, but lookin’ good on stage is what’s really important.
General advice for younger comics?
When I got into comedy, the internet was still in its infancy. Nowadays with young comics, everybody’s concerned with gettin’ on the internet—gettin’ a YouTube, gettin’ a Twitter, gettin’ a website… All I know is, just…work on being funny. Be good at this! Ya know? Comedy is a constant quest to try and find yourself—find out who you really are.
And to this day, I’m still tryin’ to find myself and figure out who I am on stage versus off stage. On stage I know I’m louder…? [laughs] But it’s a quest to just always get better. Care about the art, and everything else falls into place. That’s the most important thing. You hafta love it—cuz it doesn’t love you back for a very long time.
Having been doing comedy already for 16 years, what keeps you inspired and motivated?
Ya know…to do anything for such a long time—I mean, I was talkin’ to Brian Regan the other day, and he’s been doin’ comedy for 31 years! To do any ONE thing that long is really amazing! And you grow as a person. I’ve grown physically… [laughs] But you constantly hafta grow with your act.
And there are guys that have put just one act together…and they’ve been doing it since the ‘80s. But you hafta constantly grow and just love what you do. Nothing feels better for me than writing a new bit on stage. Even guys like Chris Rock and Louis C.K.—those guys are STILL trying to get better. And that’s the key to it. Love the art.
Is the artist ever completely content with their work?
You’re never at a point where you’re completly content. You just hafta keep climbing. And LOVE what you do.
Does the comedian ever get to have a “normal” schedule?
Ya know, I still have times where I’m like, “Man! I wish I was normal… I wish I went home and slept in the same bed every night…” Plus, we’re are all crazy! [laughs] So it’s like, there’s THAT element, too. [laughs] Don’t date any comedians! One crazy person is enough for the house. [laughs]
So your wife is a “civilian”?
My wife is a total civilian! [big smile] She saw me and liked me because she was a huge fan of Chelsea Lately. That’s ONE advantage of Chelsea Lately…hot chicks knew who I was! [laughs] Otherwise…yeah…I’d still be a very lonely dude. [laughs]
Can you measure success in show biz on a timeline?
This is art. It’s not business or science. There’s no exact timeline for where and when you’ll be at a certain point. Everybody grows differently and at a different pace. One of my favorite comedians is Eddie Murphey—and he blew up at 19! Chris Tucker got big really young—Dave Chappelle started young and by the time he was 30, he had had a show. Meanwhile, someone like Lewis Black, or Louis (C.K.) got into their 40’s and finally blew up. Or (Rodney) Dangerfield—fuck! He didn’t blow up till he was like 90! [laughs] It’s inevitable that you’ll think about it that way, but you can’t. You hafta block that out.
Cap, ‘preciate the wisdom.
All right, nice to meet ya brotha. Good luck
Interviewed & Written by: David Gavri