Bread Foster (yes that's his real name, but we'll get to that later) has gone through more in 27 years of life than a character on Lost goes through in six seasons. Which is a lot. Don't pretend like you didn't see it. But somehow, he's come out of it all as on
Bread Foster (yes that's his real name, but we'll get to that later) has gone through more in 27 years of life than a character on Lost goes through in six seasons. Which is a lot. Don't pretend like you didn't see it. But somehow, he's come out of it all as one of the funniest comedians performing today … and we wanted to know how he did that.
So, we called him up to see how darkness and struggle translates into crowd-slaying humor, as well as why getting hit in the head with a pickaxe might be the best thing for your comedy career. Also included in this exclusive chat: why otters are Public Enemy No. 1, why being a good listener is imperative to being funny, and what we can expect from his upcoming book, which you can bet your ass we're plugging right now.
When did you realize you were funny? I still don't think I'm funny. Sometimes I'm just shotgun-blasting jokes to see what takes. I was actually pretty annoying most my life, I think it took 'till a year ago to possibly consider myself bearable.
What made yourself bearable to … yourself? I'm not 100% sure what started to make me bearable to myself. I think I had to forgive myself for a lot. I've done a lot of bad things, but I stopped dwelling. I also dropped a lot of shitty people from my life. I'd rather be alone than surrounded by bad people.
At what point did you go from "I'm funny" to seeing comedy as a career? Basically I was contacted out of the blue by a well-known headliner and asked to open for him. I had only been on stage once before when I was young, but I slaughtered every time I opened for him or a year. Then, one day, I ate a metric ton of dicks on stage. People found me on Twitter while I was still performing to tell me I was shitty. It was 300 people in the crowd and I did terrible. I still had a three-way in the back of some girl's Mercedes in front of a hotel another girl had bought for me though. So, I sat in my hotel room that night, completely alone and thought, if I can handle that, I can handle anything.
What struggles or challenges did you face on the road to where you are now? Rumor has it you lived on the streets for a bit. I gave up everything to do something creative. I lost my job, my apartment, most of my friends. I had the type of faith in myself only someone completely delirious could have. I was homeless during the polar vortexes last year. I was sleeping in abandoned hunting cabins in NJ. I'm real scampy. It was negative degrees and I was barely making it. Sometimes I'd crawl under my car and sleep under the engine because I wanted heat and I'm 6'5 so sleeping in cars is hard. I talk about it a bit on stage.
Holy shit. Okay, let's try to find the positive here. What's the funniest thing than happened to you when you were roughing it? Once I found a abandoned house and forgot to tie the top of my sleeping bag closed. I woke up with snakes in my bag. Best breakfast ever.
Why do you think it is that people who've gone through struggle have a better sense of humor? We have no other choice. Struggling makes you look at things objectively as an outsider. I've never really felt part of a group because I'm too busy watching. It makes you depressed and sad and you watch people's patterns of behavior. I used to be really sad, recently that's changed. If you're struggling you can lay down and die or you can laugh and heal.
If this conversation was chocolate, it would be dark chocolate. What place does darkness have in your brand of comedy? If you're not a little dark, I wonder what you're hiding. I don't think linearly; I grew up with brothers who are pretty much geniuses, and when you're out-matched every day, you have to compensate. Other people think ABC I think ABCDG. Darkness is just building tension, humor is tension release. I think we're all healing and it's good to share something that might resonate with others. Darkness is kind of who I am. I have problems thinking like everyone else and my decision making stinks.
What kind of skills or attributes do you need to survive in the comedy world of New York? Tenacity. We're out every night doing three or four spots a night when we can. When there aren't spots we do open mics. There's a lot of funny people in NYC, we're out there trying to be the fucking best. Being a comic has a lot of terrible moments. People promise the world and never come through. Just know you need to be able to take emotional beatings and not lose sight you're doing something fun.
You've said you have an addictive personality of sorts. Is there any part of comedy that's addictive for you? All of it is addictive. Staying out till 4 a.m., being around other funny people, the smell of the shitty green rooms and kitchens we hang in pre-stage, car trips to places you've never been to in middle America. All of it is a drug. When people laugh it releases serotonin in your own brain. It's like smoking a joint and making out with a stranger, that rush and slight perversion.
You've described yourself as "professionally interesting." How do you keep that up? Do you ever wish you could just be normal and boring? I've never looked at an accountant who talks about football and wanted that life. I've tried to romanticize it but it doesn't work. I don't know what went wrong but I'm a savage. I get bored with life and I'm not willing to accept that as inevitable and slowly die watching football every Sunday. When you do college shows (Dear CSU student activity board, please fucking book me, I'll work cheap if someone takes me hiking) you have to go out with the people who booked you afterward. There are expectations you're not going to be boring. After shows sometimes people wait around for you and they need someone to inspire them. I like that responsibility, it gives me a reason to wake up.
You were hit in the head with a pickaxe as a kid. Can you tell us a little about that? How did that influence your personality and perspective on comedy today? Yeah, the story is hazy and no one will give me a the real facts. Basically My brother hit me with a pickaxe and killed me. I remember waking up and asking a nurse "why'd you wake me up"? I just remember how nice it is to not feel or worry. I'm not afraid of anything because of that. I just do it, I don't plan anything, I just jump right into situations with the knowledge I'll make it work. My ex says I have a death wish. I disagree. I just want to experience everything and live more than anyone else. I've forgotten more hilarious stories about me dying or doing something stupid than most 27-year-olds even have.
You're actually writing a book as we speak. What can we expect from you on paper? I was pretty much insane in college. By pretty much, I mean I kidnapped, robbed, out-drank and did things I'm not proud of. The book is a collection of those stories with warning messages at the end mixed with short essays about how to throw parties and other college stuff. It's filled with regret, sadness, hilarity. It probably won't make it into the book so here's some perspective. I once took a windshield hammer and pre-cracked a ton of bus stop glass around campus, that way I could jump through them screaming "I'm Batman" and scaring the fuck out of people. ALLEGEDLY. I was always on housing probation. The woman who ran housing probation came to love me and hate me. I spend so much time in her office explaining "what really happened was …"
We heard you fucking hate otters. Will that be in your book? Fuck otters with a heated flag pole. River otters, sea otters? All of them need to drown. First, I don't even like aquatic mammals, breathing air but living in water? Pick a side. If you have to hold your breath to sleep you should have evolved better. They eat 75%of their body weight a day. When food is scarce males get together and steal babies and won't give them back unless moms being them food. That's lazy and sadistic. They also rape, like, they gang rape. Not even their own species. They gang rape seals to death. I don't like seals either, but I don't want to see them raped to death. Otters will hold them under water and take turns raping the seal then fall asleep at night holding each others hands. Also river otters grow to six feet long. Enjoy those nightmares.
You have an uncanny ability to read people, which you've said is because you're an expert listener. How did you become a good listener? How do we become one? Know how Sherlock Holmes looks at stuff and puts it together, I do that. My old job taught me. You have to do more than just hear, you have to listen. Listening is a game of probability. If you shut the fuck up and let someone talk they'll always give something away. Just let people talk and put pieces together, sometimes you're wrong but it's all a probability game. It's also how you deal with a heckler, they're gonna slip up because they're new at this and I'm on stage every night.
What tips do you have for someone who's not funny? Don't try to be, you'll come off annoying and weird. Get an interesting pet or hobby people want to hear about. Unless you're willing to examine what makes others funny to a level that will drive yourself insane, it's not worth it. Read books and go do cool stuff instead. Being funny means being mildly insane and depressed.
We have to ask … why are you called Bread? Are you called Toast when you're sunburned? I like being called Bread cause my real name makes me sound like I wear polos with popped collars and bang girls named Brooke or Chelsea. When I was a kid my Dad got too drunk once and couldn't say my name. I've always hung around with assholes, so they called me that to remind me I have a drunk dad. It came back in college when everyone was always drunk. I like it. My Puerto Rican room mates call me Pan Tostado when I'm drunk or Pan Con Queso because I live off meat and cheese.
What's your biggest comedy pet peeve? Laziness and not trying other's advice. If you're gonna do it, let it rule you're life. If someone who's been around longer in the game suggests something, try it. It was so nice of them to fucking offer advice. It's a slap in the face to let it go un-attempted.
What's the weirdest interaction you've had with a fan? I used to sleep with an embarrassing number of fans. Does that count? I used to hang out with Pete Davidson and Jessimae Peluso, one time I was on their Instagram pretending to be cracky Ryan Gosling. A fan followed me, came to one of my shows and then followed me around asking about those two. It was so bad. I thought they were gonna kill me. Oh wait, she's gonna kill me for this.
Why are there no hot comedians other than Natasha Leggero … and you, and you. Did you just call me hot? That'll get me through my day. When you're ugly you have to cultivate a personality, no one wants to hang out with someone ugly and shitty. It's why people who don't peak in high school are better adults. Ugly people grow and see things for how they really are. If you've always been handsome, you learn to rely on that.
What Tweet are you most proud of? None of them. Tweets are my trash bin for my good jokes. I'm just too narcissistic not to do something with them.
You can email Bread all your innermost hopes and dreams at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter.