Question of the Day: Is Andrew Schulz the Next Household Name in Comedy?
Former MTV’s 'Guy Code' star and co-host of the popular podcast 'The Brilliant Idiots' is too busy selling out comedy shows on his tour to let anyone affect his game—not network executives, not the trolls on Instagram, and certainly not his own ego: "My goal is to prove all these networks wrong."
If you're listening to Andrew Schulz and his musings, it's hard to turn him off. His fervency is loud. His analogies are strong and hard to refute. He's propelling conversation by asking the right questions. Come at him from any direction and he's READY.
With an encyclopedic knowledge of current events, a razor-sharp knack for busting hypocrisy, and a visceral attachment to the topics he tackles, he is equipped to make people laugh, and even make them think. Hence the success of his current tour, Views From The CIS.
Schulz tells Beyond The Interview that he's inspired by the people who do it themselves—the hustlers who grind and build it on their own. "There's this singer, his name is Russ. I don't really know much about him, but my understanding of it is that he was trying to make it in the industry and nobody would give him a shot so he mixed, mastered, and wrote his own songs and put one song out a week for like a year, until it finally started to catch on, and that's what inspired me to do that with my stand-up."
When the networks didn't green light his stand-up special, he released it on his own. 4:4:1 is Schulz's attempt to show people what it's like to be a working stand-up comic in New York.
"These networks are scared," Schulz says. "They're scared to put out comedy that's not politically correct. They like silly and harmless, but that's not funny to me. My goal is to prove all these networks wrong."
In his bits, Schulz doesn't overuse profanity to make a statement. Instead, he peppers it conservatively throughout his discourse to make a point, and yet, there seems to be a giant red flag waving during his performances. Still, he contends that most people prefer his comedy to polite comedy.
"I know people like real, fucked-up funny," he says. "Yeah, a bunch of social justice warriors on Twitter get their panties in a bunch, but the majority of human beings like fucked-up funny. So let's bring that back."
As co-host of the sports podcast "Flagrant 2: No Easy Buckets" (featuring Akaash Singh and Kazeem Famuyide)—what they call, Athletic analysis by assh*les—Schulz compares comedy to athletics.
"Imagine this is sports and they start telling athletes: You know what? Let's just be a little bit more polite out there. Don't foul as much. Let's be kinder and sweeter to the players. Russell Westbrook, you're so intense—Why do you have to dunk on everyone? Just lay it up, you know? That dunking stuff is toxic masculinity—that's the patriarchy. Let's be more inclusive."
Despite headlining sold-out shows in big cities like Los Angeles and Miami on his tour Views From The CIS, Schulz says that he's been repeatedly told "no" by the stand-up industry.
"The industry could give you a movie and if the movie does badly, you're dead. The people are your fans," Schulz tells BTI.
Highly reflective about his own life and the world, his thoughts on his podcast The Brilliant Idiots (featuring Charlamagne Tha God) showcases his trademark, status-quo-challenging wit, but also gives us a hint that Schulz might also be an empathetic comic.
Social media has changed things for Schulz, who says it's given him an opportunity to let the fans decide, not the industry.
Sure, his schedule might be full, but Schulz admits to feeling a little empty at times.
"There's some void I'm looking to fill, and something I'm looking to feel whole from, and I get that through various things," Schulz says. "It could be exercise or work or accomplishments or cleaning my apartment, or going on stage and doing well. Doing work makes me feel a sense of accomplishment and it fills that hole, but then it evaporates and I need to do more. It's not like I'm existing within this perfect nirvana."
The path to finding healthy distractions hasn't come easy.
“Some people use drugs. I was probably filling that hole with girls for a while, but I realized I'm not happy doing that," he tells BTI. "I had my little hoe phase. It was also good for me to date because I learned a lot."
From dating, he learned that compatibility is important: "Now, I can pick up on things, like little behaviors of my own, like things I have to give some patience to. It's not about easy or difficult. There are certain things that will work and certain things that won't. I want someone I can have a conversation with, but also someone who values my thoughts and opinions, and also someone who I think is really smart, and I value their thoughts and opinions."
One girl he dated, for example, made him feel like he wasn't funny, and that couldn't work.
"She told me she thought I was funny, but I didn't feel it, and that's really all that matters. It's like when a parent says 'I love you' to their kid, but if the kid doesn't feel it, it doesn't matter. I would say I probably feel love in a few different ways. I definitely feel it through laughter and interest in what I'm saying. Whereas someone else can feel it from someone looking at them, or something else."
He also pinpoints red flags quickly. The biggest, brightest, reddest flags for Schulz are: "Do I think this person is smart? Do I feel like they're judgmental?"
Basically, like any comedian, he has to feel comfortable being himself: "Why do I want to bite my tongue around this person I'm gonna spend the rest of my life with?"
Schulz says he enjoys the company of more objective people—people who can hear an opinion they're not used to, "because it frees me up to have the kinds of conversations I want to have."
And you can count on Schulz's conversations to gravitate toward the relevant, the timely, and the taxing.
These days, Schulz finds it delightfully challenging to figure out ways to make people laugh about the #MeToo movement.
On social media, he admits that his audience is still a little PC when it comes to, what he calls, the #MeToo stuff.
"This #MeToo stuff is very hard for people to laugh at," he says. "But that's the fun part. That's the challenge—to get people laughing at things they feel wildly uncomfortable even just talking about."
Taking the temperature of the general public is part of the profession, though.
"It's my job to know they're going to be triggered by certain facts, even though they're facts, and then I gotta use funny to get over that, so that’s on me. I take accountability. Imma be better," he tells his audience of nearly 100,000 on his Instagram story.
But in all seriousness, his thoughts on #MeToo?
"The idea behind the #MeToo movement is great," Schulz says. "Men were abusing their power, and we need to check them. It's great."
But he also points out a problem: "What has #MeToo become? It's become this thing where women have immense power and some of them are choosing to ruin people's lives. But that's an individual. Individuals mess up everything."
Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, he says, before comparing Aziz Ansari's accuser, Grace, to catfishers. "They're there to humiliate the person that humiliated them, by catfishing. It's payback and #MeToo has become payback, and we gotta make sure that the right people are getting payback."
Grace sent shockwaves through the internet with her sexual assault claims against Ansari. And detractors wonder why she came out with that story in the first place. Schulz says he believes girls like Grace come out of the woodwork because they're young and they want attention.
"It's like an Instagram post for them. She felt really embarrassed about the situation with Aziz. She probably told all her friends that Aziz really was into her 'cuz they had the same fucking camera. She just felt humiliated, and nobody likes feeling humiliated. That's why every movie is like some payback shit. Look at Kung-Fu movies. It's 30 years of preparation for payback. 'You killed my great great great grand uncle, and I've prepared my whole life to take revenge!'"
Back then, of course, they didn't have #MeToo. "If they had #MeToo in 5th century China, then there wouldn't be karate," he jokes.
"I'm being honest with you: Every guy has done one douchey thing, at least. Every guy has grabbed a butt cheek he shouldn't have grabbed—grabbed a titty he shouldn't have grabbed, maybe when he was younger. Every. Single. Guy."
And here's his kicker: "But, you've also driven drunk, so if we found out that you've driven drunk, should you lose your position? Should you lose every single thing you've ever worked for?"
That's why #MeToo is tricky, he says. "There's Weinstein, and then there's Aziz, and those are two different worlds. If we start punishing every single CEO who hit on someone who worked for them, everybody's going down."
In the female department, Schulz says his own intentions are often misunderstood, and that women always seem to think he is just trying to sleep with them. "I'm 6'2, I have a full head of hair. If I was 5'3, maybe a girl would actually see that I'm genuinely interested."
Sarcastic responses frequent his Instagram page, but on his Stories, his audience witnesses much more. His Question of the Day posts are a fan-favorite, where he asks an absurdly rhetorical question every day, along with strong, snappy commentary in response to his own question.
Schulz is clearly comfortable in his own skin and can laugh at himself. There's no denying his talent and his love for people.
His Stories also offer a view into his travels and his experiences with friends, family, Uber drivers, and even with Gila, the owner of Mediterranean restaurant Gila's Nosh in N.Y.
It looks like fun and games and comedy, and most of the time it is. But there is much more to Andrew Schulz. Like an open mind. And thought-provoking questions. In fact, he has a few for each topic.
"Mental illness is not perfectly diagnosable. People think it's like Chickenpox, where it's like 'Oh, that's what you have.' I think it's arguably the best case for socialized healthcare because there's nothing you can do. It's so debilitating. My brother was able to get onto Medicaid, otherwise what would have happened? He doesn't have the money to pay. Are my parents responsible for this? Do they have to sell their house to pay for this?"
"Why is privilege chalked up to two things? Gender and race. Why are we acting like there aren't other things that can affect your privilege? Will Smith's kids are black. They're more privileged than 99 percent of white kids. LeBron James, very tough upbringing—also 6'9, 260 pounds, and the most perfect human specimen in the history of the human race. Privilege? I'm privileged because of my height and my hair, but I wouldn't say I’m privileged just because of my whiteness. I also grew up with financial privilege, but that's privilege that my parents worked their asses off for, so is that privilege? If my parents put more hours in than your parents, are we more privileged, or did my parents just risk more than your parents? If a guy at the gym is in much better shape than me, is he privileged if he works out twice as hard as I do? I don't think so."
"People have an inability to check their bias or even know that they're biased. Trump will be like, "We need to lower prescription drug prices' and the camera will cut to the Democrats who have been lobbying to lower prescription drug prices, and they just won't clap. So now he's saying he wants to do the exact same thing you want to do but because you don't personally like him, you won't reward this. Regardless if you hate this guy or like this guy, you should support it."
Or Politics in general?
"People care about their tribe or their politics more than they care about their policies. That's the tricky thing. Are they aware of this? I don't know. But most people are not. Most people have a knee-jerk reaction to something, and then they use the smart side of their brain to justify it. You've already decided how you feel about something, and then you make the justification."
bonus: Lena Dunham?
"What I constantly try to do is remove by bias. So if my bias is 'Lena Dunham is fucking annoying,' no matter what she does, I check that and try to view her objectively. When she came out in support of her writer that got accused of #MeToo-ing somebody, and she came out and was like, 'we think this is one of those cases where we know this person well and it's not the case,' my immediate reaction was, 'oh now it's not the case because you know the person? But before you're like, believe all victims?' (Which is an absurd statement in the first place). It is the exact opposite of what our justice system is based on, which is Innocent Until Proven Guilty. I checked the bias and realized she made an educated decision based on evidence and facts, and I respected that."