Craig Shoemaker is on top of the comedy world, but it hasn’t gone to his head.
The 47-year-old father of three boys is down to earth and just as funny offstage. Talking on the phone from his home in Los Angeles, about the only thing he gets serious about is the importance of humor in life.
The Philadelphia native, who returns to the Pipeline Cafe Wednesday, was once dubbed Funniest Male Stand-Up Comic at the American Comedy Awards. And Comedy Central viewers voted to name his special one of the network’s "Top 20" stand-up specials of all time.
On the phone, he talked up some special interests: family life; his special connection to Hawaii, where he has played many times; his character the "Lovemaster," a pickup artist with X-rated lines so cheesy they get downgraded to a PG; and his routine "the Machine Gun," in which he guns down audience members’ imitations of machine guns.
Where: Pipeline Cafe, 805 Pohukaina St.
When: 8 p.m. Wednesday (doors open at 7 p.m.)
Info: www.pipelinecafehawaii.com, 877-714-7668
Star-Advertiser: You’re cleaning your garage? Even a big star like you has to do something so mundane?
Shoemaker: Some big star. Talk to my kids. My son just turned to me and said, ‘You gotta stop hovering.’ That’s what he just said to me. … He’s going to see his friends, and they don’t want to hang with dad. And I ain’t ready to let go yet, OK? I told him, ‘You have the worst disadvantage, because I’m on to you. I’m going to be on top of you all the way through high school.’ He did not like hearing that.
Q: You’ve played Hawaii many times. Any special feeling you have for the islands?
A: I’ve played there like 50 times. I was conceived there. I don’t remember that one. It was on the naval base somewhere. I’ve always had a little special place in my heart for Hawaii. … It is a lot different than Philadelphia.
Philadelphia has that whole angry thing down. I’m sure you’ve heard of this, some guy vomited on someone during the game. They paid him to do it. In Philadelphia they call it heckling; in L.A. they call it bulimia. They tased the guy; it’s a whole insane thing. But Hawaii’s a lot more laid-back. It’s a great adjustment for me; it’s an easy adjustment — going from the corner of crack and homeless to the corner of flower and lotus. It’s awesome.
Q: The Tiger Woods scandal had to be godsend for you as the Lovemaster, but maybe not. Is the Lovemaster jealous of Tiger?
A: There’s nobody that’s got the goods on the Lovemaster, even Tiger Woods. The Lovemaster came about because I was a geek in high school, which I assume if you’re in this business, you were, too. The girls would always use the F-word with me, you know — friend — and I hated it. Girls now, they don’t want the good guy, the friend. They want the bad guy, the Lovemaster. And sure enough, throughout the years, I’ve actually had women say to me, "I want to go to bed with you, but only if you’re that Lovemaster guy." …
I talk about him like he’s some different guy, because he is. He’s not really me. I’m the guy cleaning my garage right now. With my wife, who’s breast-feeding right now, so you know how much action this Lovemaster isn’t getting. It’s like two ships that pass in the night, and she’s got a barnacle attached to her boat.
Q: You did a film about pot after your kids asked if you’d ever smoked it. Do you think you’re going to have to do another one about dealing with women?
A: There’s a fine line that says, "You should suffer like I did, you little turkeys." And then there’s another side that says, "Oh God, I don’t want you to wind up with this fictitious character your whole life to compensate."
Q: Out here in Hawaii we have a lot of military personnel. Do you think one of them will do a good machine gun?
A: The military guys I’ve seen are the worst at the machine gun that we have. Can you believe that? They’re the worst.
Matter of fact, the hardest I ever laughed was a military guy, he points his fingers at me, and I say, "Do your machine guy," and he goes, "Peanut butter, peanut butter, peanut butter, jam!" I literally hit my head on the back wall of the comedy club, laughing so hard. And he was dead serious.
Q: Can I get a freebie and do mine for you?
A: Sure. That would be a first, doing it over the phone, but go ahead.
Q: OK, I’m pointing my fingers. "GUHGUHGUHGUHGUHGUHGUHGUHGUH!"
A: (Laughing) That’s terrible. You would be one of the stutter guys that get stuck, like your gun is jammed. The bullet is trying to come out, but it’s not quite coming out the way you would think. I would want to be at war against you, because I wouldn’t get hit, that’s for sure. I’d fare pretty well. Well, actually I wouldn’t. I’d lose because I’d be laughing so hard. And that is the best way to go.
That’s why I don’t understand why more people don’t go to comedy clubs. It’s very healing, so there’s nothing better you can do for yourself. …
When you think about it, laughter is the best medicine. So you go to a comedy club, what’s it cost you? A $20 co-pay. It’s better than Obamacare.
Everything on television is so negative. Like reality shows, it’s all about taking people down. I don’t understand what happened to us. I used to watch television sitcoms with my family; those were some of my favorite times as a kid. Now there’s no family bonding, The family might sit together but they’re all texting. And nobody’s texting anything funny or humorous; it’s all taking people down. That’s a paradigm I’d like to change, one joke at a time.