Adam Carolla likes to say his podcast empire is his “pirate ship,” a vessel giving him independence from the Hollywood system. Yet Carolla didn’t make his new comedy “Road Hard” as any bird-flipping salute to the industry.
“I wasn’t like, ‘I’m gonna tell Hollywood to kiss my ass.’ I don’t know if Hollywood would listen if I told them to kiss my ass,” Carolla tells The Federalist. “I was trying to tell a story about what it’s like to step backwards in life … that’s so humbling.”
“Road Hard” casts Carolla as Bruce Madsen, an ex-“Bro Show” star reduced to touring as a stand-up after his career crashes. Along the way, he wrestles with show business realities, a possible romance with a divorcee (Diane Farr) and his own fractured ego. Oh, and the indignity of flying next to a woman who carries her dog on her lap.
It’s Carolla’s first film since 2007’s “The Hammer,” a well-received indie about an ex-fighter given one last chance in the ring. This time, Carolla co-wrote, co-directed and stars in a film peppered with autobiographical flourishes.
‘Road Hard,’ A Cracked Autobiography
He, too, was forced to hit the road a few years back, and the experience left an indelible mark on him. Carolla, the “Man Show” co-host turned podcast impresario, fashioned his new crowdsourced comedy from the films he’s loved for decades. Think “Defending Your Life” and “Love and Death,” two of Carolla’s favorites.
The laughs in “Road Hard” come with something to chew on, not just a rat-a-tat assault on our funny bone, he says. He had no interest in lobbying what he dubbed a “joke grenade” at his fans.
“I don’t make many movies … the ones I do I try to have some story, some heart, some romance,” he says. “It makes it more interesting, gives you something to hang your hat on … if you never stop telling jokes people start tuning out, and they don’t care.”
The film does taunt the industry for valuing talent far less than playing the game and schmoozing the right people. Carolla is technically removed from that game, given his Carolla Digital enterprise, his best-selling books and his Mangria concoction. Do his comedy friends, many of whom appear in the film like Jay Mohr and David Alan Grier, envy his creative freedom?
Creative Independence Is Hard to Come By
Sure, he says, but declaring one’s independence takes more than waving a red, white, and blue flag.
“I don’t have a great answer for them … there’s no secret recipe to having a successful podcast,” he says. “Everybody wants that autonomy, to do their own thing and be left alone. But who’s gonna pay you?”
Even Carolla occasionally listens when The Man speaks. His Spike TV gig “Catch a Contractor” is a traditional employee-employer relationship, and he says he has little problem doing as he’s told.
Carolla currently juggles a hectic array of gigs. He records several podcasts each week and performs stand-up material across the country. He’s even shared his political musings with “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox News. He’s not an unabashedly political humorist, but his attacks on Occupy Wall Street, President Obama, and the nanny state give him a rare, right-of-center perspective.
These days, he’s also busy paying back fans who helped make “Road Hard” a reality. He’s had to drink with one contributor to thank him for his patronage and hosted a “Road Hard” screening party at “Everybody Loves Raymond” creator Phil Rosenthal’s home. Next, he’ll be jetting to several major cities to thank contributors personally for their support.
It sounds exhausting. But Carolla says the alternative was rougher.
“It’s better than going to Hollywood and rattling the can,” he says.
Hollywood Dismembers Conservatives—So Don’t Bother
“Road Hard” isn’t Carolla’s only 2015 film project. He’s working on a documentary about Paul Newman’s racing career. More recently, he added a new podcast, or “PO’dcast,” to his digital empire. “PO’dcast” teams him with Dennis Miller, another comedian whose rants lean GOP-friendly. Carolla says other right-leaning comics could find a solid audience given the liberal nature of Hollywood in 2015, but it would come at a price.
“He or she would be dismembered by the press and Hollywood,” he says, laughing. “That person has to think long and hard about being eviscerated.”
The Left, he says, are open to those who agree with their worldview, but “if you disagree with them, you’re screwed,” he says. Then, he warns, the nasty labels start attaching themselves to your name. Homophobic. Bigoted. Xenophobic. Misogynist.
“It’s never gonna end,” he says. And he speaks from experience. His comment that “dudes are funnier than chicks” caused a journalism meltdown. Suddenly, the word “misogynist” attached itself to some of his media mentions.
Carolla shrugs his shoulders at his critics these days.
“I’m used to it, and there’s nothing I can do about it,” he says.