Jeremy Hotz is a Canadian comedy institution. Or he belongs in one. Or both!
Audiences eat up his angst-ridden persona, who’s always complaining about something. Thirty-plus years into his career and he still kinda sorta enjoys it… with a caveat.
“Yeah, I like it,” he says by phone from his home in West Hollywood. “I mean, I don’t like anything, you know that. It’s not so much of an act. Like, I’m a really miserable fuck. So I don’t like a lot of stuff. My best day is when I don’t have to do anything and I wake up and I just get to fucking stand there. That’s the greatest thing that can happen. So whenever I have anything to do, it annoys me on some level.”
While other comedians’ stars rise and fall quickly, Hotz’s has been a steady incline for decades. At 55, he’s able to fill theatres across the land. He has a theory as to why that is.
“For some reason, when I get upset about something, people find that extremely amusing. And I think I understand it now,” he says. “When I was a kid and my dad got really upset, I thought it was hilarious. I think that’s what it is.”
Years of experience have him on top of his game. He’s one of the most in-the-moment comedians working today. His crowd work isn’t of the perfunctory “What do you do? Where are you from?” variety. Nor does it feel like filler for a half-baked act. He’s got his material, but he’s ready, willing, and able to deviate from it when the moment arises.
“Most guys have the whole thing in a row and they work it in the same order and 'There’s my show, thank you very much, good night.' It’s essentially a script,” he says. “I go off-book all the time and I’m hearing a lot of it for the first time too. Jesus, I’m not going to follow any rules! Christ! That’s why I do this in the first place.”
The tour he’s bringing to town, Dangerously Handsome (a prerelease DVD will be available at the show), is his comment on all the good-looking standups on the scene today. It’s distracting to the audience, he finds. “They don’t even listen to the jokes,” he says. “That’s what standup’s turning into. For an old guy that’s been in it for a really long time, it’s really sad, honestly.”
Or maybe he’s just paranoid. That’s completely possible too.
“You realize in the olden days, with my anxiety and all this stuff, I would probably have spent my life in a mental institution, right?” he says. “They wouldn’t have known what was wrong with me. You should have seen what my teachers said about me in fucking school, for Christ’s sake. They thought I was mentally challenged.”
Which raises the question: after all these years, is his mental health improving?
“Oh, it is what it is,” he says. “That’s a good question. You’re just used to it. It’s up and down; there’s no judging it. I would say it works on an even, unpleasant keel for me, waiting around the corner to jump out and grab me when I’m not paying attention. That kinda shit.”
Jeremy Hotz’s Dangerously Handsome tour plays the Vogue Theatre on Friday (January 25).