Interview with John Fugelsang
by SC of (1st print 1998, 1st corresponding broadcast 1997)

courtesy of The Unofficial John Fugelsang Appreciation Page
& John Fugelsang
John Fugelsang co-hosts "America's Funniest Videos" with Daisy Fuentes. Previously, the charismatic national television host gained a large television audience from VH1. As a rising star he toured Manhattan night clubs with his successful one-man show which he wrote himself and in which he displayed a bright wit, good looks, and excellent impressions of people who were famous before him.

His first performance as a stand-up comedian was at the Boston Comedy Club in Greenwich Village. While he was in New York and still on the night club circuit, Chinyere Communications' Sahar Chinyere took the opportunity to interview the friendly New York talent:

SC: How did you end up being a stand-up comedian?

JF: I don't really know. I didn't really plan on being a stand-up comedian at the beginning. I always wanted to go into acting and writing and people always told me that I could try which is kind of interesting because I'm not even remotely funny in the slightest... (Both throughout and outside of the interview he proved otherwise.)

I just wound up trying it out of curiosity at an open mike at a club and then I was invited to come back and play at a few other places. It just kind of picked up from there.

SC: Are you in a place right now where you would like to be, or are you in transition?

JF: Oh, I hope I'm in transition... Look around (the living room of his Manhattan studio apartment)! Manna from heaven-- it's finally happened!.. [Here's] a bunch of books I haven't read but I keep on the shelf because I'm pretentious...

I hope that this is very transitional. Right now my life is pretty much working 9 to 5 and coming home and trying to catch some sleep or do some writing and then going out and being at the clubs all night performing. That's very taxing and the last year's been very rough in that sense and I'm hoping I'll get to the point where I can make enough money to pay my bills and then spend more time working on what I want to do--

(A car is heard loudly starting its engine on the street just outside the studio.)

-- starting cars that are obtrusive to the shooting of this feature that you're doing here...just getting on the sidewalk... I want to be a chauffeur!

SC: What would you really like to do?

I have a lot of things I'd like to do... I want to continue writing and working on developing my one-man show and eventually making it something a bit more marketable and I'd like to do sketch comedy at some point.

SC: Do you enjoy doing [night club] performances?

JF: I get a lot out of it. I've learned a lot about myself and about relating to people and I've enjoyed having really good nights where I bring the house down but at the same time I've had a lot of heckling experiences and stuff like that which I've learned a lot from.

SC: Why did you decide to do a one-man show?

JF: Most comedians tell me that you're supposed to be a comedian for five or ten years, then play at the clubs during 10-minute sets and then do a one-man show after you're somewhat well known and I took the opposite tack of doing a one-man show when no one ever heard of me.

SC: Were you influenced by other performers?

JF: I was influenced by other performers in the sense that I saw what I didn't want myself to be. I guess one of the reasons I started doing stand-up is because I think the mid-eighties explosion of stand-up comedy [made] such a homogenized industry and it's so over-saturated, the whole medium. You turn on the TV and there's 20,000 comedians, alleged comedians, with bad haircuts and whatever just saying, "Okay, so-- Michael Jackson. Do you think he did it? Hey-- this Lorena Bobbitt thing. Oh-- Nancy Kerrigan..."and it's all the same and they're all really clones.

I don't ever want to introduce a [performance] by saying, "And if they did it, it might go a little something like this..." I want to do something slightly different than what I have seen.

And so he has.

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