Q&A: Tosh talks the Ivy League, Carlos Mencia and Dakota Fanning

Alexandra Finkel

Comedian Daniel Tosh performed at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall on Thursday night. He sat down for a question-and-answer session about his love for comedy, his affinity for stealing jokes and making his big break at Northwestern.

DAILY: Did you always want to be a comedian growing up?

Daniel Tosh: No.

D: What did you want to be?

DT: I didn’t really have any dreams.

D: No firefighter, no astronaut?

DT: No. Neither. Although those are both very realistic in Florida – lots of fires from shuttles exploding. Wait, that’s a horrible thing to connect, but I wouldn’t have had it not been for your leading question. No, I didn’t know what I wanted to be. I went to school, a lot like everyone else, and just kind of stumbled into this.

D: So I saw you went to UCF?

DT: Yes, a very, very prestigious Ivy League school. I’m a fan of all Florida schools and community schools, not so much the Techs. I find your skills useless, Tech students.

D: And yet you graduated with a marketing degree?

DT: I do have a marketing degree, I believe.

D: So why did you pursue that in college?

DT: It was either that or education, like coin flip which one was easier. I think I picked the right one. Not just easy but also useless.

D: When you graduated, how did you then go into comedy?

DT: Well I was doing comedy throughout college, and then I hit it big. I think I was making $200 a month in that area for quite a few years. I thought, “This is great.”

D: Did you do shows on campus?

DT: No! You know a couple of times. I like to change my volume dramatically for no reason at all for people that aren’t paying attention. It’s like that video your kids watch really close to the T.V. and that freak thing explodes. I don’t know if you’ve seen that.

D: I haven’t.

DT: I heard it’s very viral.

D: So when did you break through? When did you realize that comedy –

DT: This week. Been my big break.

D: Wow, then I’m surprised we even got you.

DT: I actually tried to cancel this show.

D: They wouldn’t let you, huh?

DT: No, I haven’t had my big break yet.

D: So how do write your jokes?

DT: I steal them, usually from my opening acts. No, I don’t know. I try to when something funny happens, remember it. Then I say it again. But that doesn’t always work. So then I just go to the Internet and Google “what are kids laughing at” and it says “Do you mean Carlos Mencia?” I have no idea what I do. I write down jokes on pieces of paper.

D: Who is your inspiration? Who do you aspire to be, comedy-wise?

DT: Dakota Fanning. I like a lot of her early stuff. Wesley Snipes. No, who am I inspired by? I like a lot of people. I have good friends that are really: funny Nick Swardson and Zack Galifianakis, Louis CK, David Farell. They are all people I am inspired by. And a lot of lesser known people as well, but I can’t remember their names because they’re lesser.

D: Did you hear that Demetri Martin came to campus?

DT: I did. I don’t know him. Therefore he does not inspire me. But he does have a show on Comedy Central. I don’t really want my show to be good but I don’t want it to be cancelled right away. Those are my goals. I just want to be under the radar but on the radar.

D: How is your show going to be different from The Soup or Best Week Ever, shows like that?

DT: Probably not. One thing versus The Soup is the new show, Tosh.O premiering this summer on Thursdays, is I’m going to be mean and I’m also gong to go and do things in the field. Like people that have been infamous on the Internet for something they regret. I’m going to give them the chance to right a wrong, you know. I have a lot of big ideas. Maybe let Michael Richards do another set at the Laugh Factory and not use the N word. That would be a start.

D: When you were looking through your jokes for Northwestern, how did you choose?

DT: I could care less what you guys would like, to be honest. I know how much it cost to go here and I find that offensive especially in a down economy. No, I just tell jokes. If people like them, I learn real quick.

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