By Lisa Wilton
CALGARY — You may recognize Ben Gleib from his various roundtable TV appearances, including a regular spot on Chelsea Handler’s former chat show, Chelsea Lately. His smartass humour and astute comedic take on politics and pop culture has made him a sought-after guest correspondent, while his weekly podcast, Last Week On Earth with Ben Gleib, on the Smodcast Network was one of the most popular comedy podcasts around. The 36-year-old has also voiced characters in Jay & Silent Bob’s Super Groovy Cartoon Movie, Phineas & Herb and Ice Age: Continental Drift. Gleib currently hosts Idiotest, which began its second season on The Game Show Network on April 1st.
BeatRoute caught up with Gleib ahead of his shows at The Laugh Shop this April:
BeatRoute: You’ve worked on stage, screen and television. Which one do you like most or try to concentrate on more now?
Ben Gleib: I love them all. But stand-up is probably my favourite because it’s the purest medium. It’s the most direct way to communicate with your audience and I just love that there’s no filter at all between me and the crowd.
BR: If you knew how much work was involved in comedy, would you have gone into it?
BG: I think I would. I knew going in that you had to hit the open mics and hit the trail hard. I was looking forward to doing it. I really like making people laugh. I believe in expanding returns. The longer you do it, the better you get, the more laughter you bring to people, the better it makes you feel and it gives you sort of an emotional erection because you know how hard it was to get there. It just feels so good when you’re able to perform in a way that pleases people.
BR: Were you the class clown?
BG: I was the class comedian who is the guy who makes fun of the class clown.
I was always, generally speaking, that guy. At least I was that guy in my head. I was always comfortable enough to speak my jokes out loud. In the 6th, 7th and 8th grades I was voted class comedian. In (high school) I was voted most likely to host a talk show and then I went on to host a talk show and now I host a game show where I talk. So they were very prescient. I don’t want to say they had psychic skills, but it seems as though they did. Although the person who was voted best-looking is very ugly now.
BR: Not many people who are voted most likely to be something in high school actually go on to do it. You’re one of the few, so congratulations.
BG: I know! And the fact that the best-looking girl is not that attractive now is also cool, because I might finally have a chance with her.
BR: Where do you want to go with your career?
BG: I’ve always wanted to go to China with my career and that’s what I’m doing soon. I’m going to Shanghai. I’m immersing myself in Chinese-language courses and I’m hoping they won’t be a waste of money because the shows are going to be in English.
As far as career goals, I don’t have year plans. I just want the next year to be better and a bit more interesting than the year before. I’d like a significant acting role in the next year. I’m shooting a movie this May, which I can’t yet talk about. But it’s cool. I’d love to host the Oscars one day. And all the other awards shows. I’ll skip the Tonys though because I can’t dance. You need to dance and that’s not what I do.
BR: Did you grow up watching game shows?
BG: I watched Press Your Luck and Double Dare growing up. I’m a lifelong Jeopardy! fan and I try to pattern most of what I do after Alex Trebek. Not just in the game show, but personal life. I try to follow what he does. When he shaves his moustache off, I shave my moustache off. When he grows one, I grow one. You can only be as good as your master until you become better than your master. It’s advice that might seem like it makes no sense or has any wisdom to it, but maybe that’s the point.
BR: What’s it like being a game show host?
BG: It’s a lot of work. It’s a public service. It’s a welfare program with very strict rules and regulations about how you can qualify for that financial aid. But it’s fun welfare program with bells and whistles and you apply for it in front of an international TV audience. And it’s exciting when people qualify for that financial assistance. And when they don’t, I make fun of them publicly. It’s typically how welfare offices go.
Ben Gleib is at The Laugh Shop from Thurs., April 16 to Sat., April 18.AB, Alberta, Ben Gleib, The Laugh Shop