Why is Brad Paisley doing comedy? Brad Paisley, star of the new Netflix comedy special Brad Paisley’s Comedy Rodeo, now streaming, can answer that for you: “A few years back, I got really interested in doing some stand-up,” the singer tells EW. “I like what that does to me as a writer, how it forces me to look at different perspectives. It gets me out of my comfort zone, which I think is important.”
He turned that passion into a Nashville-filmed stand-up special that features comics like Nate Bargatze and Sarah Tiana — not to mention a few jokes from Paisley himself. Also, there’s… a cameo from David Hasselhoff? We asked Paisley to explain all that and more.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: There’s an old saying that comedians really wish they were musicians, and musicians all really want to be comedians. Have you found any truth to that in your experience?
BRAD PAISLEY: Well, it’s true for me. But I don’t know. I mean, the comedy world is really something. Just getting to know these guys, the five comedians in my special, as well as several stand-ups I’m good friends with. Guys like Kevin Nealon, who is one of my best buddies, and Seth Meyers is a good friend, and Jimmy Kimmel. And these guys that stand up to deliver jokes nightly, that is such a crazy, amazing way of life.
And one of the coolest scenes anywhere is the backstage at a comedy club. Getting to be one of the people backstage as a performer on a comedy night is something that’s hard to describe — what a thrill, and what a strange behind-the-curtain kind of feeling that is.
Did you have any favorite comedy idols growing up?
Oh, yes. Steven Wright. I remember in the ‘80s discovering him. Everybody was infatuated with him for a while I think. I mean, this is a guy whose perspective on life… just the one-liners! All of these crazy ways he looked at the English language and phrases. He’s one. And I loved Seinfeld. I loved all of the comedians that are essentially the rock stars of comedy. And since then, there’s so many new guys that are just off the hook. John Mulaney is one of my favorites right now. I just think he’s amazing.
Who’s the funniest guy that you know in the music business?
Oh, let me think. I would say somebody who always makes me laugh is a guy named Tyler Farr, who was out on the road with me. Tyler has a knack for just being… he’s just funny. He is so self-effacing and I instantly like anyone who doesn’t take themselves very seriously, and Tyler’s that way. That’s why I get along so well with people like Darius Rucker, who is one of my best friends. He’s funny as can be.
The same with Carrie Underwood, who was willing to stand up at the CMA Awards with me to make fun of ourselves. She’s really up for anything. And it’s interesting because sometimes I’m funny in real life and sometimes I’m not. But I think that’s typical for people who do comedy. A lot of comedians aren’t funny all the time. Like, Steve Martin isn’t funny unless he’s getting paid. You know what I’m saying? But then there’s guys like Kevin Nealon, who’s funny all the time. Kevin is 100 percent on all the time, looking at humor in life and doing bits every second of every day.
David Hasselhoff shows up in the special. How did that come about? Do you guys have a good relationship?
I got to know David because of the current single “Last Time For Everything.” He’s in the video for that. And the reason he’s in the video is we rented the Knight Rider car, and he heard about it and he said, “Hey, I’m a fan, and I’m around if want to say hi or anything.” And so I said, “Do you want to be in it? Could I possibly talk you into appearing in this music video?” He said, “Yeah, I’ve got nothing to do tomorrow afternoon!” So he shows up and he really played along great.
He’s a guy that doesn’t take himself seriously at all. He’s great at marketing “David Hasselhoff” in that way. I love guys like that. Guys like Hasselhoff and Bill Shatner. These guys, they’re legendary. There are people who weep when they see guys like that. But they are willing to do comedy at the drop of a hat. Like Shatner’s a good example. He’ll come out at the CMAs in a Stormtrooper outfit.
Same with David. He’s fair game. He’s like, “I’m in — what can I do to make you laugh?” So we came up with this opening skit, which is me trying to get a ride to the special. And as you can imagine, he has a little pull with a ride that can get you there.
A certain special car?
Yeah. Kind of like Uber.