Comic Jeremy Hotz brings his trademark angst to Vancouver
Watching Jeremy Hotz on-stage, you’d think he was a big bag of neuroses and negativity. And while the persona isn’t exactly the same as the man, you wouldn’t be all wrong.
When performing, Hotz is a classic complainer, and he compounds it by putting his fist to his mouth and making a sound that’s half laugh, half cry. To be able to play comedically miserable, you’ve got to know where it comes from.
“It’s not so much a character,” he says by phone from Toronto prior to his gruelling cross-country Magical Misery Tour. “The hand in front of the face sort of thing, I do that in real life when I have anxiety. It was just a natural evolution of my act. Some nights, it’s on more than others. It depends how I’m feeling on that particular evening. I don’t plan it.”
All these years in the game, and he still isn’t any more comfortable before a show. “I think standup at this point just triggers it,” he says, the it being what he describes as “crippling anxiety”. “I have a nasty brand, and I think that’s because I’ve done standup for so long, so I’m constantly feeling nervousness.”
But life’s not all worry and fret. A couple of weeks before our interview, Hotz found himself written up in a Rolling Stone cover story. The subject was Rihanna, whom Hotz had heard of (because he’s a human being with a pulse), but that was the extent of his knowledge. (“She’s top-40, right?” he asks me. “She’s like… um… for the kids, right?”)
Turns out she showed up at L.A.’s Laugh Factory on a night Hotz was performing. He’s informed of her presence and says: “Oh, she’s a singer, right?” Stares return. “She’s the most fucking famous singer in the world, man!” She’s hustled in among bodyguards and buddies. Later, Hotz is backstage in his own postshow world, not paying attention to anyone, when the singer is hustled back out. She grabs his arm and says, “You were amazing.” Hotz’s reaction? “I kind of half look up and I go—to Rihanna!—‘Thanks, sugar.’ Like an asshole. I called her ‘sugar’! Because I didn’t 100-percent make the connection. And then she smiled and went out the back door.” All chronicled by the world’s foremost pop-culture magazine.
A week later, he met a real celebrity, in his eyes: Jerry Lewis, who also paid a visit to the famed comedy club. “This is the one I really won’t ever forget,” he says of the 87-year-old. “That’s a guy I watched when I was a kid and shit. And he looks at me and points and goes, ‘You! You were great! You have an amazing face.’ ” Hotz got his photo taken with the legend and immediately posted it to Facebook. “What a great moment,” he recalls. “I actually felt in awe. And emotional.”
Those experiences were enough to cause a brief respite from his life. “It was good timing for me because I got the anxiety—that’s how I’m wired,” he says. “I’m always walking around nervous about something or other, and that just takes you out of your head and you’re okay. That Jerry Lewis thing, I was okay for about a week.”
But not to worry, he’s not all well adjusted now or anything. He’s sure to be miserable again by the time he hits the Lower Mainland.