It takes survival instincts to endure in the world of stand-up comedy. In the case of comedian, actor, and writer Rick Shapiro, he's a survivor and then some. The best part about Rick is nothing is off limits when it comes to his material, not even the most difficult chapters in his life. Turning negatives into positives, this ex-addict now lives a sober life, he regained his humor after a memory erasing car accident, and in 2013 Shapiro was diagnosed with Parkinson's and actively supports the cause through shows and merchandise. That's a lot of curveballs for one man to withstand but Shapiro continues to push on and when you see him on this season of Maron on IFC, it's clear that he's sharper and wilder than ever. After an overly excited chance meeting with Rick, we locked him down to ask about his role on Maron, words offending, and about his own reality.
OC Weekly (Ali Lerman): If it wasn't obvious by me fan-girling out when we met, I've admired your comedy for a long time.
Rick Shapiro: It's great because it comes from a good place and I know it's all love. Let me ask you something though. You said you admire my work, I feel like I'm born each day. I don't remember that I've been doing this for 25 years. What is it that you admire about me?
Well I own the box set of Lucky Louie and you were great on that show. And with your stand-up, I love that you don't sugar coat anything, you're extremely honest, and much like myself, you curse a lot.
[Laughs.] That's so cool! OK, thank you for telling me that.
Oh no, thank you. So you're on three episodes of Maron this season. How was it doing them?
Yeah, I had to go through a lot of shit because it's a long drive to Santa Monica from Hollywood. And I had parking issues! It's funny though because you can go from that to having tears in my eyes while talking with Judd Hirsch about descending hawks and Vietnam. It's absurd. And Hirsh kept making me think he was going to touch my forehead and then he'd back off a little bit. Then he comes at me again. At the end of it I was like, are you going to wipe my tears, start crying, or just run?
Sounds intense and yet, so fun! How would you break down your character?
Well they didn't write the wacky fucking neighbor so when I came for the first episode I was shocked because the guy is like a philosopher. He talks like Buddhist antidotes but he'll beat the shit out of a Buddhist monk. And I'm going door to door to sell vacuums to people's homes with detachable parts and I hold it up like a spiritual animal on the streets of Mexico. I loved it, it was so much fun. I think they like me on the show because I don't do anything the way they would expect.
I can imagine Marc is a blast to work with.
Yeah, Marc is so real so you have to be real. His eyes are really wide open. He's the only comic who wasn't jumping rope when they yelled "action." Everyone is doing push-ups and Marc was going around saying, "Is everyone alright? Does anyone need anything?" The minute you walk on the set it felt like, wow, he's my neighbor and my best friend. He's the real word "pro" and the crew is always game. I'm glad to have had the experience.
That's so incredible! Do you think you'd ever do a reality show? You and your wife do a lot behind the scenes.
I'd love to and Tracy is actually pitching that around. The reason I'd like to do it is because there are things that nobody knows that I do. To be able to risk everything or to gain more strength from taking that risk would be cool. Sometimes I think, why would you even take that fucking risk jack off? But I'd still like to do it. I just don't want it pitched like, Rick has Parkinson's so let's see what that is like. I think a reality show with me should be realizing that things are changing and not stupid people wearing a fake smile.
I'd totally watch it. Since you're rather free with your words, what are your thoughts on people who are "offended" and bitch about others lives and words?
It depends what you want, who you are, or what's stressed upon you. For me, I feel pity for those people. I had eight or nine years on the street, blew a guy and he blew me but, my life is vulgar? Why don't you think about what this person did to survive? Why would you be so vulgar to be offended by that person's life? You should be offended by the injustice that's happening to people. If I talk about heroin and I'm on a downward spiral, they laugh because I'm bringing them in and they're smart enough to get the joke. I consider people who are offended to have a disorder. It's a twitch. Like you can't handle the powerful truth of vagina, or cocks, or edging… [Laughs.] I don't even know what I'm saying.
Be sure to tune in for the new season of Maron starting this Thursday May 14th on IFC and you can also catch Rick live on Saturday May 30th at Beyond Baroque in his one-man show "All Around Rick" by grabbing tickets at www.beyondbaroque.org. For more info, check out his website www.RickShapiroTV.com and follow him on Twitter @RickShapiroTV.