Repeat offender (******)
Scott Capurro has made a living out of pissing people off, says Aditya Kundalkar.
You might remember Scott Capurro as one of the guys who helped Robin Williams become Mrs Doubtfire in the 1993 movie. Even if you don’t, you’re not likely to forget his gig at The Comedy Store this fortnight. Capurro has earned a reputation for being a provocative comedian. The list of people he’s offended include Christians, “Japs”, racists, “lezzers”, children, vegetarians… the list goes on. He’s known for being candid about gay sexuality and when he spoke to Time Out from his London home, he said he was researching Mumbai’s queer culture and getting ready for his first gig in India.
What kind of preparations have you made?
Well, I’ve got my typhoid shots. I’ve been told to be careful with cold food handled by hand. And I know that homosexuality was decriminalised last year so I’m not supposed to worry about that. Although I am worried that someone will get up and break a beer bottle over my head. I had a nose job three years ago and it cost a couple of grand and my father would be really annoyed if it got broken.
Do you always think about your gigs so much?
Not really. Not in Europe, I don’t worry. In America, my set’s a bit different. But that’s really because Americans are not interested in European politics at all. For India, I’ve been told to not talk about London – the Indians don’t really care. The more you talk about America the better off you are.
You’ve been described as the most scathing stand-up comedian. It couldn’t have been easy to earn that title. I have to be cautious to a point. When I play in parts of America that aren’t San Francisco or New York or LA, it can be a bit terrifying. I can see people squirming and I can only assume they’re doing it because they hate queers. And they’re not used to a gay man who’s not really, really effeminate or in drag. But I’m sure I’m going to hit on some men in the front row. I’m sure I’m going to imply I’ve had sex with them. I’m sure I’m going to make them nervous and make them anxious about their sexuality. It’s all part of what I do, but I can’t do that and not take responsibility for it. I have to be aware that it’s not my culture, it’s a new culture.
Do you ever think that what you’re about to say might be too offensive?
Sometimes I’ve forwarded emails that I shouldn’t have done. Other than that, talking about stuff, either on stage or off, I have no regrets. For example, last night at [London’s The Comedy] Store I started talking about the Koran which I intend to do when I’m in India and the audience got a little nervous. But I didn’t regret it. I feel like, y’know, Jews and Christians can laugh so Muslims should be held to the same standard, and I think that it’s a compliment to the Muslim community and to those who read the Koran to satirise it on stage because it proves that we’re all equal.
Does anything offend you?
When a comic is patronising to the audience or steals material from other comics. You can tell that their stories aren’t their own. Or all they do is tell pub jokes. The time you get on stage is your chance to alter people’s perceptions. Comics are meant to be a bit annoying or stimulating, or accusatory, or in some way alter people’s ideas about the way they see things. There’s so much to talk about in the world around us. What’s the point of ignoring it? And I’m certainly not going to talk to the audience as if they’re children. I want them to feel [like they’re] a part of the show. It’s not a fucking seminar.
Scott Capurro will perform at The Comedy Store on Thur May 26.
Now I’m truly international. Maybe I’ll do lots of yoga whilst I’m there, or just hide in my hotel room and enjoy the room service and crisp sheets. I will definitely report back. Probably on facebook, I’m becoming a fan of that. I’m so easy.