Bait and Swish comedy returns to Cape May

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"Diamonds to Dust" Musclemen.

Adam Sank in sunglassesInterview with the host Adam Sank.

Comic Adam Sank returns to Cape May on April 2. He will host Bait & Swish: Another Dip with some of the brightest comics on the national scene. Sank recently spoke to Out In Jersey about his Jersey fans, the perfect man, and being nude on stage… among other things.

Tommy: Tell me about coming back to Cape May in April for Bait & Swish: Another Dip.

Adam: I’m thrilled! This is the third time I’ve hosted it and it’s an honor to be asked back a third time. It really makes me feel like part of the community down there. I’m psyched.

You do have quite a following down here in South Jersey, you know.

Adam: I can tell from facebook.

Adam Sank "from behind" at GNI comedy show

Adam Sank “from behind” at GNI comedy show

There are a lot of people in the South Jersey and Philly area who only know me from Cape May.

You just performed the second time at the Elk’s Lodge in Summit New Jersey too.

Adam: Both my brothers-in-law belong to the Elks. In Summit, the Elks Lodge is the one of the only places to go if you want to drink. Last spring, my brother-in-law came up with the idea of doing a comedy show fundraiser for the Elks. We really had no idea how it would go over. Summit is an overwhelmingly straight Republican-leaning town and as far as I know there is not an openly gay Elk member – at least in Summit, but the show was sold-out. There was such an intense reaction so we decided to do it again.

You grew up in Summit so I suppose there are many people in the audience who are seeing you for the first time since you’ve been a kid.

Adam: Yes, people are so interested in what I am going to say about growing up in Summit and about my family. They love when I make fun of my family. My sister said to me, “We all have a boring lifestyle in this town and to have anyone who is from New York City and is a comedian telling us about their life is very exciting for us.”

You obviously have to keep your act clean when you go home to perform for the Elks.

Adam: No! They love it when we are filthy. I tell the other comics that there are no language restrictions. These are people in their 30s and 40s who most likely talk like that so why would they care if we talked like that? If I got up on stage and was filthy for the sake of being filthy I don’t think anyone enjoys that. But dirty is funny when it is funny.

So what makes Adam Sank laugh?

Adam: I love camp in the true sense of the word. I love when something that is supposed to be totally serious and solemn is turned on its head and ridiculed. That makes me laugh.

Such as?

Adam: Well, Sarah Palin. Sarah Palin is somebody who takes herself so seriously and her followers take her so seriously. I actually see her as humorless. So when people mock her, it tickles me, because I think she’s such a fool. I love to see that mocked.

What pisses you off?

Adam: At the moment?

Comedian Adam Sank will be in Cape May on April 2 for "Bait and Swish."

Comedian Adam Sank will be in Cape May on April 2 for “Bait and Swish.”

The Tea Party and the right wing who I feel are so intent on destroying the country. I hate lies and liars. I was attracted to comedy in the first place because comedy is all about telling the truth and puncturing through the bullshit. So whether its politics or entertainment or my own personal relationships, I just hate bullshit.

I saw on your facebook page where you added Barack Obama as one of your likes. Are you completely happy with what he has done so far for the gay community?

Adam: The short answer? No. I don’t think we’ve ever had a president who has pleased me with gay rights or AIDS. But I think with politics you always want to choose the lesser of two evils. Do I think that this president has and will help the gay community more than any other republican man or woman in this country? Absolutely. Do I wish that he were more vocal? Of course I do.

So why doesn’t he just come out and give his support?

Adam: We saw what the other side does to him when he tried to reform health care. That’s the genius of the other side; that they can take something that people don’t particularly know anything about or understand and inflame the rhetoric to the point where people are violent over this issue. If they can do that with health care, imagine what would happen if Obama said that same sex marriage should be legal in all 50 states.

Right now it is a states issue. Each state has the right to decide its own marriage laws. Right now gay marriage is legal in 5 states. When the Supreme Court finally rules on gay marriage in California, if they rule the right way and gay marriage becomes the law of the land and Obama won’t have to do anything. And that’s really the way it should be. But I think Obama is doing that job better than anybody else could do it right now.

Getting back to comedy, what is the most recent practical joke you played on someone?

Adam: I hate practical jokes. I think they are mean-spirited. I think a joke has to be funny for the joker and the person having the joke pulled on them.

Yet, you have said many times that you love Howard Stern. Are you telling me that in the 20 years you’ve listened to him you’ve never heard him do anything mean-spirited? It seems to me most of what he does is mean-spirited.

Adam: That’s a good point. I suppose there is a childish part of me that lives vicariously through Howard Stern. I do find his prank phone calls really funny.

You just said that humor has to be two-sided. But if someone on the other side of the phone call finds discomfort or insult in it, isn’t that bullying?

Adam: One of the things they have to do on the Stern show, is that they call back and tell the people what is going on and they have to get the person’s permission before airing it. So everyone is in on the joke by the time the audience hears it….  The goal [in all comedy] is you want to push the envelope of what is acceptable and stretch the boundaries of good taste as far as you can but all along you want the audience to be laughing and to be shocked by their own laughter.

Two years ago you had a successful weekly show in New York, you seemed to be getting yourself really well established. You gave it all up and moved to San Diego for a year and returned to New York in 2010. How difficult has it been for you reestablishing yourself on the comedy scene?

Adam: I mistakenly thought I would return and everything would be as it was. I was shocked that it would take a tremendous amount of work to get to where I had been. It’s taken me a good year to really get back in the swing of things. I do have a weekly show again [at Bar-tini Ultra Lounge, 642 10th Ave.] I just got booked at Comix again to do a showcase, and more than anything I’m back at my apartment again in Midtown.

What’s the ideal man for you?

Adam: Oh God, I’m starting to think he doesn’t exist. My ideal man is someone I am sexually attracted to and is also my best friend. I think that’s as good as it gets as far as relationships go.

Are you a high-maintenance person for a partner to be with?

Adam: In some ways I am. In other ways, I’m sort of a caretaker by nature so when I am in a relationship I usually end up taking care of the other person more than they take care of me. I was raised in a family where I was taught to care about other people. In fact, I was frequently reminded that my needs were not as important. So, I think I’m a good boyfriend.

Does having a 9 to 5 job discourage you as an artist?

Adam: It’s a blessing and a curse. I have a lot of friends who have chosen to just be comedians or performers. I find that a lot of them spend a lot of time worrying about money. They spend time worrying about their living expenses or what their next move is going to be. I’m someone who needs to have all that squared away before I can be creative. I mean, I hate my job but at the same time I’m grateful I have the job because it pays me.

It’s a weird existence. I’ll go on Sirius XM and have a really great hour on the radio and I might get a hundred new fans that day on the internet or twitter and they reach out and say, “Oh, you’re so funny and I’m a fan now.” And that feels great and then the next day I sit in my cubicle and do my day job. But until the day comes when I can make enough money being a performer, I would not have it any other way.

How do co-workers at your day job react to your second career as a comic?

Adam: I always wind up in work situations where my boss and my co-workers have an appreciation and a respect that I have this other career. They usually find out very quickly that I do this. They are always very lovely about it. I think when you do something that you love, especially when it’s very difficult like comedy, I think people have a respect for it and want you to succeed.

One of my heroes is David Sedaris who for many years while he was getting nationally known was still cleaning houses for a living. I guess if there is anyone who is my model it is David Sedaris, because he did that for as long as he needed to. I don’t think there is any shame in that. I actually think it’s really amazing to work so hard at your passion and also be willing to do what you need to do to pay the rent.

2010 was a year that your clothes seemed to just keep coming off. You performed one of your shows and did a photo spread in the nude. Tell me about that.

Adam: Well, my performance at GNI (Gay Naturists International) was one of the most rewarding gigs I had ever done. I was very nervous about it because I had never performed for that sort of audience [nudists.] I always felt that for gay men sex and comedy should be kept separate because they occupy two separate parts of our brain. I think if you watch gay porn, for the most part it is absolutely humorless. As gay men, we tend to take our sex very seriously, and I think we want our comedy to be as ridiculous and grotesque as possible. So I was really nervous going into that. But I found that I could be almost completely nude and then be completely nude and still get them to listen and laugh and not have them just look at me. Also, the thing with GNI is that they are naturists, they are not about sex, they are about nudity and for them it’s a way of life. So they weren’t sexualizing me just because I was on stage taking my clothes off. And doing that was a very liberating and freeing thing for me.

Tell me about posing nude for Time Out New York magazine.

Adam: That was sort of odd, I’m not really sure where that idea came from. But I was one of 8 comics they chose for the 8 Gays of Hanukkah. And those pictures were not really sexy in any way. They were silly and campy. We had silly expressions on our faces, we were holding all sorts of silly props in front of our private parts. It was more of a burlesque kind of thing than anything pornographic… although facebook disagreed.

I don’t like people looking at my body unless it’s a one-on-one situation but at the same time I’m not ashamed of my body. I was raised in a family where we were taught to be comfortable with our bodies and our sexual parts. So, it’s not really a big deal to me and if it’s going to get me in the magazine then sure, I’ll take my clothes off.

I want to wrap this up by naming some comics. Some are alive and some are dead. When I do, I want your short response. I’ll start with Bob Hope.

Adam: Great for his time but not my kind of humor.

Jonathan Winters

Adam: I’m not really that familiar with his work. I know him mostly from Mork and Mindy he played Mork and Mindy’s son. I thought he was insanely hilarious but as a comic I’m not really familiar with his work.

Gallagher

Adam: I was never into him because I don’t like prop comedy. What we’ve learned recently is that he is incredibly homophobic and right-wing which makes me like him even less. I’m not a fan.

Joan Rivers

Adam: Genius. My childhood idol. One of the main reasons I wanted to be a comic.

Did you ever tell her that?

Adam: I’ve met Joan several times but when I got a chance to speak to her I wasn’t a comic yet. So I certainly got a chance to tell her how much I adored her but at the time I was producing a morning show segment that was featuring her so I never really had a chance to talk to Joan as a comedian to his idol.

Dane Cook

Adam: The story of Dane Cook is almost the story of Myspace. Dane Cook shot to fame through Myspace. He was the first comedian who really understood the power of social networking and had over a million Myspace friends and built an enormously successful career just with the ability of being able to connect with college kids. He toured around the country and had them come see his shows. Unfortunately for him, when Myspace died his career sort of died. I mean you don’t really hear about him anymore. Someone said to me the other day that all his fans have graduated college and have moved on and didn’t stay with him.

Does he make you laugh?

Adam: Sometimes. I think he is a great talent in the sense that he has great charisma and knows how to deliver a joke. But there has been allegations for years that he steals material and I’m not really sure he is a great writer.

So, I’ll be seeing you soon in Cape May at “Bait and Swish.” Anything you’d like to add as we wrap this up?

Adam: Just that I am at Bar-tini Ultra Lounge every Wednesday evening in New York. It’s a small show and it’s very intimate. A friend of mine who goes there each week calls it “living room comedy.” The thing I like about it is that it makes me fearless. It forces me to write new material every single week. So it’s a great opportunity to write and create new stuff.

Further information and tickets for Bait & Swish: Another Dip can be found at www.gablescapemay.com 

 

Adam Sank in sunglassesInterview with the host Adam Sank.

Comic Adam Sank returns to Cape May on April 2. He will host Bait & Swish: Another Dip with some of the brightest comics on the national scene. Sank recently spoke to Out In Jersey about his Jersey fans, the perfect man, and being nude on stage… among other things.

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