Adam Carolla spent many of his formative years with just one plan in mind for his future.
“And that was Plan A,” said the 47-year-old radio personality, television host, comedian and actor, who will take center stage at the Borgata in Atlantic City on Saturday.
“Growing up in California I always loved sports, and all I ever wanted to do was play professional football. I played Pop Warner football for seven years, so why couldn’t I play professionally?” he said. “I guess you’re kind of naive when you’re ten, and I was no different. I was just thinking of a fun way to make a living when I grew up.”
Eventually, Carolla did grow up, spent one year in college and quit.
“Trouble was,” he explained, “I didn’t worry about education or studying or applying myself or focusing on anything but going the pro football route, my Plan A. Unfortunately, I never had a Plan B.”
So for the man whose Plan A never did work out, Carolla was forced to take menial jobs just to get by. He worked as a carpenter, a carpet cleaner, a ditch-digger and a boxing instructor, among other jobs.
“I didn’t come from the kind of environment that encouraged you to get out there and chase your dreams, and that with a little hard work and a little luck you could make it happen,” Carolla said. “Things like that weren’t really discussed in my house.”
And although Carolla had a definite funny streak, he believed comedy was just for other people.
“I obviously was aware of George Carlin and Richard Pryor, but they were not me. I mean they were George Carlin and Richard Pryor and I was not. I didn’t realize there was anything in between,” he said.
But in his mid-20s, Carolla grew desperate to make something more of his life, and knew if he wanted some kind of success, he’d have to figure out what he was good at.
For example, he explained, “Before I was a carpenter I didn’t know how to be a carpenter. It took me ten years of training to be a good carpenter. But I realized I had a strong back, a good head for numbers, was good with my hands, so there was no reason I couldn’t be a carpenter. And eventually, I was.”
Later, realizing he might have a true flair for comedy, he decided to approach it the same way.
“I didn’t have any stage presence,” he said. “I didn’t know what ‘upstage’ or ‘stage left’ meant. I didn’t understand the phrase ‘breaking the fourth wall.’ I had no experience onstage, or writing or delivering jokes. But I did have a good mind for comedy and a good sense of humor.”
And so he set off on his quest to be the best comic he could be, believing that with the right training, experience and repetition, he could take it all and turn it into something successful. He started taking classes and doing open-mike comedy nights.
“I didn’t judge myself too harshly in the beginning because I knew I was pretty bad at it,” he said, “and why wouldn’t I be?”
But eventually his natural ability and belief in himself began to shine through. In the 1990s he co-hosted the radio show Loveline with Dr. Drew, and he went on to co-host the television program The Man Show. As co-creator and performer on the television program Crank Yankers, he continued his comedic climb.
Currently, The Adam Carolla Show, his talk show distributed as a podcast, has made the Guinness Book of World Records, officially taking the record from comedian Ricky Gervais for the most downloaded podcast in the world.
“It’s crazy to have your name in that book, especially growing up and being a real fan of that publication,” Carolla concluded. “I’m a lucky man — for that and also to make money with my humor and not worrying about having to punch a clock. Next up? Who knows?” ••
For times and ticket information, call 1-866-WANA-TIX.