Todd Glass pushes back on the idea of PC culture ruining comedy

Todd Glass, left, with Zach Galifianakis, right, on the Doug Loves Movies podcast during the 2012 Los Angeles Podcast Festival // Photo via CleftClips, Flickr

Todd Glass, left, with Zach Galifianakis, right, on the Doug Loves Movies podcast during the 2012 Los Angeles Podcast Festival // Photo via CleftClips, Flickr

Todd Glass isn’t afraid to speak his mind.

With a career spanning more than three decades, the comedian has performed all over the world, sharing his observations, insights, and absurdities with audiences of all ages and backgrounds. His most recent Netflix special was released in January to overwhelmingly positive reviews, and his podcast, “The Todd Glass Show,” is consistently one of the most downloaded and talked about comedy podcasts.

This week, Glass brings his full band (no, seriously: he has a whole band that comes with him) to a smaller-than-usual stage for a series of intimate shows at Royal Comedy Theater in Hopkins.

“Sometimes it’s fun to do an insanely intimate show,” he explains over the phone while on his treadmill. “I’m used to doing rooms that are like 300 seats, so doing a show for 60 people gives it a very different energy and lets me interact with people differently.”

For more than 30 years, Glass has continued to redefine himself as a comedian while continuing to grow and develop as a person. He’s also unapologetically opinionated and not afraid to speak his mind.

One topic that he’s been very outspoken about is something fellow comedians like Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock have gone on record saying that they won’t perform at colleges anymore because of “PC culture.”

“I think it’s narcissistic to be honest,” Glass says. “For decades, these same comedians have said ‘the audience is never wrong!’ I personally don’t agree with that, but that’s been their platform. Now all of a sudden they’re saying things like, ‘Oh, colleges used to be a place where people could be free-thinkers.’ That’s bullshit. That’s getting upset with your audience and making them the problem because a joke didn’t get the same laugh it used to get, or certain topics aren’t embraced the same way they used to be.”

Glass is quick to point out that he, too, has had to adapt as a performer, even if the self-reflection isn’t always pleasant.

“The audience doesn’t have to react the way you want them to.”

– Todd Glass

“I look back at my body of work, and I’ll hear a joke that makes me think, ‘eh, that really wasn’t very sensitive,’ or, ‘maybe that was kind of unnecessary.’ That’s not to say I’m embarrassed of it; I just recognize that it’s important to grow and change. That said, I would never tell anyone to change their comedy. I believe comedians should have the right to talk about anything they want. Just realize that that audience doesn’t have to react the way you want them to.”

Despite his strong opinions, Glass’ comedy can be absurd and silly, bringing levity to the intensity of his delivery. That is also why he isn’t overly concerned with something he says on stage causing a major media backlash.

Unlike some performers who choose to prohibit cell phones during performances to prevent their material from leaking ahead of time, Glass is more accepting of the comedy world in 2018 in terms of the mediums as well as the expectations.

Todd Glass // Photo courtesy Todd Glass

Todd Glass // Photo courtesy Todd Glass

“I see both sides of it,” he says. “But with all of the platforms that are available now and the opportunity to create new things and get exposure to all different types of material, I think you have to embrace the positive. I feel like people who get mad about changes in platforms and comedy are the same as people who say things like, ‘There’s no good music today!’ […] They just want to focus on the negative and cling to what they know and what’s safe to them. It’s like, quit being scared to die all the time and you might actually enjoy what’s going on.”

Similarly, Glass says the increased access and exposure to his comedy can create pressure to continue developing new material at a much quicker rate, but he also doesn’t see things as black and white.

“If you come to my show, I think it’s safe to say you’re going to get probably 60 percent new material, and then there’s some stuff I’ve done for a little while,” he explains. “I think that’s part of the growing and evolving we’re talking about. It’s not about having to start from scratch every time; you change things and add-on and remove things gradually over time.”

Regardless of your beliefs or comfort level surrounding comedy in 2018, Glass’ advice for his fellow comedians is something we can all apply in our own lives.

“Think about it like this: Whenever you see Jerry Seinfeld, his hair is always perfect. It’s always freshly coiffed. So how does he keep it that way? By letting it become unmanageable and then cutting it all off? No, he has little trims constantly. That’s the same with comedy. If a joke isn’t well received, I always ask, ‘Is it the worst thing in the world?’ and the answer is typically no. So why wait until it becomes the worst thing to cut it? Do the little trims. It’s what keeps you polished.”

Who: Todd Glass
When: June 21–24
Where: Royal Comedy Theatre, 809 Mainstreet, Hopkins
How much: $20

Tickets and more info here