There are cake people and pie people. Adam Carolla, headlining a special two-night event at the Addison Improv Tuesday and Wednesday (October 5-6), is a confirmed pie man. More about that in a minute.
If all you know of Carolla, 46, is from the 1990s on cable's The Man Show and Crank Yankers (shows he co-created), or from his 10 years of late-night radio's call-in show Loveline with Dr. Drew Pinsky, the gig that vaulted Carolla out of the construction business and into a 7-figure salary, then you're way behind. He was the syndicated West Coast replacement for the Howard Stern Show, when Stern went to Sirius satellite. CBS Radio zarched Carolla's morning show on a Friday early last year; he launched the Adam Carolla Podcast over the Internet the following Monday. A year and a half later, it's the most downloaded podcast on iTunes, with an average 150,000 listeners a day and 5 million downloads a month.
Carolla also has co-written, produced and starred in The Hammer, a small, very sweet film (even he calls it a "chick flick") about a sad-sack 40-year-old boxer (him) who gets a tryout for the Olympic team and finds love with a smart, age-appropriate woman (Heather Juergensen). Two seasons ago Carolla cha-cha'd and tangoed on ABC's Dancing with the Stars (booted his fourth week on the show). And though he admits he hates to read, calling libraries "the places they hide the books," he's written one, out November 2, titled In Fifty Years We'll All Be Chicks: . . . And Other Complaints from an Angry Middle-Aged White Guy.
Last spring Carolla started playing LA-area comedy clubs, doing 90 minutes' worth of comically biting rants about what bugs him in today's culture: the demonization of peanut butter, Oprah-worship and a bit he calls "rich man/poor man," comparing things people at both ends of the economic spectrum have in common. Example: Shooting and eating wild game, and calling their kids "Junior" and "Buck."
The club gigs, which he sometimes records for the podcast, help pay the bills for his staff, some of whom he brought from the canceled radio show. He also supports a fancy sports car habit (his yellow Lamborghini rides a hydraulic lift into his living room in the Hollywood Hills.) And he's a family man who draws plenty of material from the habits of wife Lynette and 4-year-old twins Sonny and Natalia.
Carolla rarely ventures far from the West Coast. His visit to the Addison Improv will be his first time performing in the Dallas area. He was happy to find out the club sits on Addison's busy restaurant row. Which is how our phone chat veered from his showbiz career to his love of pie.
City of Ate: Adam, you've often described your humble upbringing in Los Angeles as food-deprived. You once said you used to go to friends' houses and hit their refrigerators "like a raccoon at a campground." And wasn't there a pie contest in high school...
Carolla: Oh, yes. I was a big guy in high school. Big football player. I loved pie and I could always eat a ton and my house was Slumdog Millionaire minus the millionaire part. I was always starving. Someone signed me up for a pie eating contest at North Hollywood High. You had to tie your hands behind your back and shove your face into a pie. You'd get pie filling in your hair and under your eyelids. For a guy who loved pie as much as I loved pie, it didn't seem like a proper way to enjoy pie. The winner got a little something called satisfaction and nothing else. It was a school contest. A morale builder at lunch time. I decided I wasn't going to bury my face in this pie. What was the point? Consumption of pie in a timely fashion...has that ever got anyone laid? Made anyone rich? "Man, can this guy eat pie" is not high up on the list of things that get you somewhere. I nibbled on it. I licked the side. I sort of played it up for the crowd. Everyone was screaming like they had money on it. When the thing was done, I picked up my pie and said I was going home. The teacher got really mad and felt like she'd been bamboozled. She said, "You throw that pie away." I held the pie up in front of the crowd and said, "She wants me to throw away this perfectly good pie! And there are hungry people out there!" Everyone started booing her. I went home with my apple pie. I got a gallon jug of milk out of the fridge and sat down and ate myself the whole pie.
COA: What is your favorite pie?
Carolla: Pumpkin, if I was pinned down. Never been a mincemeat pie guy. But I like the idea that someone has infused a pie with meat.
COA: Um, mincemeat is actually a mix of dried fruits and sugars and spices. There's no meat in it.
Carolla: Huh, I think I've tasted it. I've always thought it had meat in it somewhere.
COA: Graham cracker or pastry crust?
Carolla:Normally I go pastry. But graham cracker for Key lime pie.
COA: Ever had a fried pie? We have those in Texas.
Carolla: My thing with pie is, it's not broken so let's not fix it. I just feel like if you're into pie, let's not monkey with the pie. It's the same thing with pizza. I like pizza. If I get burnt out on sausage and onion, I'll go to a mushroom. If you get burned out on pumpkin, you go pecan. I don't like chocolate pie. That's bullshit. It's pudding in a pie crust and they've sprayed some Cool Whip on top of it. That's not a pie, sweetie, that's pudding.
COA: For a devoted pie guy, you're still in good shape. What's your secret to staving off the pounds?
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Carolla: One does have to keep an eye on one's self. I have to take it easy. I did grow up with that chip on my shoulder, or in my belly, about being hungry all the time. I was constantly kind of nutty for food. Now, when you're on the set of a show or something, there's free food everywhere. You go berserk. There's part of you that's 10-years old. Out of my way! I'm digging in! But you remember you're 46. Getting fat in this business isn't a great way to be. So it's a weird balancing act. Everywhere you go in this town, there's free grub. How do you not dive into it? Bottom line is, I skip a little rope every night for 20 minutes.
COA: Ever had a chicken-fried steak?
Carolla: I've never had it because I've never done the thing where people take the Snickers bar and roll it in batter and fry it. There's nothing wrong with a steak. I like my steak as steak. I would definitely try it, but would not put the country gravy on top of it. You're mocking the gods at that point.
Adam Carolla does two shows a night, at 8 and 10 p.m., October 5 and 6, at the Addison Improv. For tickets, call 972-404-8501.