Comedian Josh Wolf brings ‘story-driven’ stand-up to F.M. Kirby Center
Comedian Josh Wolf has a resume that includes writing for sitcoms, hosting talk shows, recurring television roles and, most notably, regular appearances alongside Chelsea Handler on “Chelsea Lately” and “After Lately,” but stand-up is his first — and true — love.
“I love being creative, and I love different outlets for that creativity, but it all circles around comedy,” Wolf said in a recent phone interview.
Wolf will perform at 7 p.m. Thursday at the F.M. Kirby Center in downtown Wilkes-Barre as part of the venue’s Live from the Chandelier Lobby series.
Wolf’s career has been highlighted by appearances on “Last Comic Standing,” “My Name Is Earl” and “Raising Hope.” He’s toured alongside Larry the Cable Guy and hosted Discovery Channel show “Naked After Dark” and CMT program “The Josh Wolf Show.” Currently, he hosts a podcast with Freddy Prinze Jr. called “Prinze & The Wolf,” and a talk show on live-streaming video platform Twitch titled “Controlled Chaos,” but he still revels in his time onstage.
“I have a certain brand of comedy that has stayed consistent,” Wolf said. “I’m not a huge political dude. I’m not pushing a social message. I always say to my audiences, ‘I hope nobody came here to learn anything today.’ My shows are all about fun and people laughing, and it’s all inclusive.”
Wolf’s storytelling style of delivery varies from shorter anecdotes, like when he’s had to talk to his son about subjects like sex and alcohol, to longer narratives, like the time he ordered a female wrestler from Craigslist who came to his friend’s bachelor party and playfully assaulted the prospective groom.
“I’m a story-driven guy,” Wolf said. “It’s about how much weight the story can hold. The bachelor party story needed more detail to paint the picture. When I am painting that picture with my son during the sex talk, to me it’s not as important as the details of the talk itself. Every story needs it’s own lens.”
And that lens is Wolf, who uses his life experiences to mine his material and tell stories that are as relatable as they are hilarious.
“It all starts with truth,” he said. “I tell (the story) exactly how it happened, and I don’t sell certain points. I just tell it the way I would tell a story without writing anything extra. I do that for a little while to figure out which part of the truth generally works in the story. If the truth is funny, that’s going to beat any punchline I can come up with. There’s an authenticity I can’t replicate.”
Wolf also uses music in his routine, bringing his guitar onstage to perform songs like “My Pussy,” a song that uses the lyrics his daughter wrote in a poem about loving the family cat and performs them verbatim. The tune, which never suggests it’s about anything other than a 7-year-old’s thoughts on her pet, makes some audiences members laugh and offends others, Wolf said.
“It shows you the difference between the innocence of children and adults,” he noted. “Half loved the poem about her cat; the other half were appalled. Tell me which is wrong or right.”
Wolf said music adds another entertaining layer to his performances and allows him to say things he might not be able to without song. As an example, he points to a song he and fellow comedian and “Chelsea Lately” alumnus Jeff “Jiffy” Wild wrote that took on the subject of offensive comedy.
“I was tired of people picking and choosing what offended them,” Wolf said. “You can’t not laugh at the fat joke because you weigh 400 pounds but then laugh at the (racist) joke. You have to laugh at everything, and with everyone, or not at all. We wrote a song that offended everybody. We parodied 12 or 13 songs in a row. If I told 12 offensive jokes in a row, I don’t think it would have worked, but because we put it to music, it’s less confrontational. There’s something upbeat about it.”
Wolf, who describes “Controlled Chaos” as bizarre, loose and fun with “a real cool, low-budget ‘Pee-wee’s Playhouse’ feel to it,” makes it clear that the shows on which he’s appeared in the past are not precursors to his stand-up routine.
“Because I was on Chelsea’s show for a long time, people assume I’m going to get up there and talk politics. I’m not. I feel like my job is to provide an hour of fun.”
IF YOU GO
What: Josh Wolf
When: 7 p.m. Thursday
Where: Chandelier Lobby of the F.M. Kirby Center, 71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre
Additional information: Tickets cost $25 in advance and $30 the day of the show and are available through the Kirby Center box office, online at kirbycenter.org and by phone at 570-826-1100. To listen to Wolf’s podcast with Freddy Prinze Jr., visit prinzeandthewolf.libsyn.com, and to watch his show, ‘Controlled Chaos,’ visit twitch.tv/gegghead.