New York City based actor and comedian Dan Soder’s first special with HBO called “Son of a Gary” is set to premiere on December 7that 10 p.m.
Soder is well known for his work as a stand-up comedian. He has toured around the country performing live shows and worked with Comedy Central and Netflix to release multiple recorded specials. Soder also works as an actor on Showtime’s hit series Billions and hosts his own Sirus XM radio show called The Bonfire with fellow comedian Big Jay Oakerson.
We had the chance to interview Soder after watching the special about what it was like working with HBO and how he got his start in comedy.
The Knockturnal: Why did you chose to name the special Son of a Gary?
Dan Soder: Well I have a radio show with Big Jay Oakerson called The Bonfire and we both have dead beat dads named Gary. And our kind of fake motorcycle gang was called “Sons of Gary”. And so I was doing Edinburgh Fringe and they were like what do you want to name it and I was like I don’t know. Son of a Gary.” And they were like great and then I talked to Jay about naming the special that and he gave me his blessing. I think often times people use the phrase son of a b*tch and they are talking about being the son of a mean woman. And my dad was a piece of sh*t so—he wasn’t a piece of sh*t as much as he was just like a terrible dad and so there are some jokes in there that touch on that. And I felt like hey might as well. Why not call it “Son of a Gary”.
The Knockturnal: How did you decide which material to use for this specific special?
Dan Soder: I think I just built the best hour I could. I just really was focused on making the stuff that I wanted to see in a special. HBO is such a big opportunity and it’s such a great platform. That it was one of those things where I was like man if I can just make a great hour that I’m happy with. Just put everything in that.
The Knockturnal: What was it like working with HBO? How was this different from your past work with other networks?
Dan Soder: This felt really like a special. Comedy Central when we did the hour it felt really cool and it felt like a big deal. And then Netflix was a big deal and it was very fun to work with. But HBO it was really about me. I never felt like it was about me. I felt like it was about getting this thing for them. HBO really made it like: we want you to be the best. You can give us the best thing possible. It was really encouraging and I really enjoyed it. I had a great time working with HBO.
The Knockturnal: I noticed from your special you like to do a lot of impressions and sound effects. How do you go about refining those impressions and where do you get inspiration from?
Dan Soder: Doing “The Bonfire”. When you do 8 hours a week of radio—Big Jay Oakerson is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. One of the funniest people on the planet. And just trying to make him laugh. As an only child I think I was doing a lot of voices by myself and kind of making people laugh. I always enjoyed like Dana Carvey and people like that. That could do voices.
The Knockturnal: Speaking of Dana Carvey, would you say you have any specific comedic heroes that you looked up to?
Dan Soder: For sure, when I was growing up I loved Dana Carvey and Eddie Murphey. I really loved Mike Myers and Robin Williams when I was younger. Then as I got into my teenage years and started getting into stand up Dave Chappelle was really the most important influence. Just because he’s the greatest of all time. I think he’s the best that ever did it. And I was lucky enough to be sixteen when “Killin’ Them Softly” came out and really enjoyed watching him become a legend. It inspired me to want to do comedy and to want to comedy well. And people like Patrice O’Neal and Bill Burr and Dave Attell and Collin Quinn were really important to me just as far as what kind of comedy I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it. And then people like Maria Bamford. Maria Bamford is so funny and can take stuff that is so personal and dark and make it really fun and hilarious. It was great.
The Knockturnal: I remember that you had a bit about dark humor in your special, would you say you look to include that in all of your shows?
Dan Soder: I just think that’s how I look at the world. I think if there is something sad and dark there is something funny to be made. Everything’s got a shadow and everything’s got a light side to it. And I think to acknowledge that kind of duality is an important thing and I think when there is a really dark subject there is a shadow of humor that can be cast onto it when you light it up.
The Knockturnal: It became clear in your special that you like to engage with your audience to an extent. Have you ever had a particularly memorable moment with an audience member?
Dan Soder: There was a time where I did a show at a club called “Laughs” in Washington and it was a really light turn out on a Friday night show. There was maybe like twenty people in the audience and one of them was a drunk lady that her daughter like dropped her off at the mini mall so she just went to the comedy club. I ended up just completely abandoning my act just to talk to this woman because she was so out of her mind. She was so convinced the show was about her that I just made the show about her. It was fun. It was a lot of fun.
The Knockturnal: How did you get started in comedy?
Dan Soder: I always loved it. I always wanted to do it. I worked in radio when I was nineteen and twenty. And then about the end of twenty-one I started doing open mics in 2004 and just kept doing them. Once I found the world of comedy it just felt like home. It felt like all of those people were very similar to me and had similar opinions. We all liked to do the same thing and it was really nice.
The Knockturnal: For the people that are going to be reading this, if you had to describe to them what to expect when they watch this special what would you say?
Dan Soder: Jokes. This is just a guy telling jokes for an hour. I’m not going to give you a world view or sit down and give you an opinion. I hope you enjoy it that’s really all I care about it. I hope people like the jokes.