In addition to being a touring stand-up comedian, Steve Hofstetter (’02) writes a column for the Sports Illustrated website, hosts “Four Quotas,” a twice-weekly radio show on Sirius Satellite Radio, and is the Director of Acquisitions for National Lampoon’s forthcoming TV network, Comedy Express (on which he also performs). Billed as "the thinking man's comic," he has released a comedy album, Cure for the Cable Guy, and is also the author of two books, Student Body Shots, and its sequel, Student Body Shots: Another Round.
On Thursday, April 12 at 8:00 p.m., Steve will be performing at Comix in New York City as part of the showcase “The King Davids of Comedy.” Comix is located at 353 West 14th St. For more information, see http://www.stevehofstetter.com/calendartemplate.cfm?CalendarID=1650.
You're booked through the end of 2007. How does it feel to be in that place in your career? And how does it feel to have your life scheduled so rigorously?
I am extremely thankful for the success I've had thus far, especially this young. But that doesn't mean I'm settling for it—I'm a compulsive striver. It annoys people close to me all the time. I was on ESPN last week, and ended up complaining that I wasn't on long enough. Part of me needs to shut up and enjoy myself sometimes. Now is the best time to have a rigorous schedule. I have no wife, no kids, and living in Los Angeles, no local sports team I care to see live. So I travel—I get to see the world and have other people pay for it—and it feels pretty good.
Your recent album, Cure for the Cable Guy, has been successful but also has you embroiled in controversy. Has there been a downside to this for you?
The downside to taking sides is having people on the other side hate you. You can not wake up every day to hate mail without it affecting you a little. Unless you're Barry Bonds. Then the steroids have taken hold and you have no feelings. But I am immensely glad I took on Larry the Cable Guy. It is rare that standing up for something you believe in is also a good career move. Usually the two are independent of each other.
Has being on the executive side at Comedy Express affected your view of the business?
I've been a producer since I started—I was running live shows really early on. So I haven't seen much this year that I didn't already know. But it's been reaffirmed. There's a LOT of bad talent out there. Wow. Seriously. Also, there are a lot of mean execs out there, too. People seem surprised when I'm nice to them and offer them a fair deal. I guess I'm not typically Hollywood that way.
Stand-up comedy has basically no on-paper prerequisites. Has being a Columbia graduate helped you in your career, and if so, how?
Having a Columbia degree has helped me position myself as a comedian for the intellectual audience. Which, by the way, is a startlingly small portion of the potential audience. It's also allowed me a shorter climb on the business side of things—it's rare that someone has a professional grade sense of humor and an Ivy League degree. Julius Sharpe and David Feldman also went to Columbia, but I haven't run into any other Lions out there yet.
What's the most important thing you took away from being a student at GS?
At GS, I learned not to judge people based on one affiliation. As a younger GS student, I had the opportunity to watch many of the other schools rag on GS to me. It was such a silly notion—that someone was lesser because they took time off before coming back to school. I once had a class with three models, an MTV VJ, a video game coder, and the owner of a chain of auto dealerships. Tell me that's not a better learning environment than a typical classroom.
What's been your biggest professional thrill?
I host often at the Hollywood Improv, and we often have special guests. This year I've been able to introduce Dane Cook, Dave Chappelle, and Robin Williams, all unannounced. To be on that stage during a 100% standing ovation, even if it wasn't for me—the energy was just amazing.
I have an archive of over 500 pieces of hate mail and my responses. That has GOT to be more entertaining than your friends' MySpace bulletin.
Note: This interview was conducted in August 2006 and originally appeared in the Fall/Winter 2006 edition of The Owl, the alumni magazine of the School of General Studies. http://www.alumni.gs.columbia.edu/owlnet/TheOWLFallWinter2006_FINAL.pdf