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No Bottoms On: Interview with Dave Terruso of The Pornologues

Porn is everywhere. In fact, the idea that you are in front of a computer right now and reading this instead of looking at porn is somewhat amazing. Unless you have multiple windows open and you are reading this and watching porn at the same time, then I commend you for your multitasking skills. But you should pause the movie and focus on reading, because Dave Terruso┬áhas figured out everyone’s dirty little (no-so-much-a) secret – that all of us have some sort of experience with porn. All of us might not be comfortable talking about it and sometimes that makes for great comedy. This Wednesday night at L’etage Dave and some of the best comedians in Philadelphia will go on stage and talk about all things porn at The Pornologues. We caught up with Dave to ask him some questions about what you might find hidden underneath his mattress.

WITOUT: Do you think that porn is one of those things that almost everyone has a funny story about but might be embarrassed to talk about openly? Have you ever bonded with new or old friends over porn stories? Is this the purpose of the show?

DAVE TERRUSO: I think that all stories about watching porn are inherently funny when you think about them. Most likely you’re sitting in a computer chair with no bottoms on. Or you’re on your couch with no bottoms on. Or you’re in an internet cafe with no bottoms on. Even if you’re not touching yourself, you’re watching two people bonking, which is weird. So I think everyone has a funny story about watching porn, I just bet they don’t realize the stories are all funny.

Yes, I love to talk to good friends and total strangers about their porn experience, and their sexual experiences in general. The part of your brain that makes these intimate bits of information embarrassing, I was born without it. The reality of life is that we all get naked and make our genitals hum. It’s unavoidable. So why keep it a secret? In comedy and in life I gravitate toward the universal truths that unite us. I have no problem telling a bunch of people an embarrassing story about me ejaculating. I do it onstage. I do it at parties.* That’s just who I am. And that’s who many comedians are. Most of us were born without that embarrassment part of our brains.

This show was created from just such a conversation. I was at the bar at Helium talking to Ryan Carey (host of the PORNOLOGUES) and Alex Pearlman (one of the performers). We were talking about how kids today have it so easy because of the internet; they don’t know how to scavenge like we did. Life before internet porn was our version of The Great Depression. And other people around us started adding to the conversation and we were all laughing so hard. We realized there was something to this idea and that it should be a show.

*I should make it clear that I talk about ejaculating onstage and at parties. I don’t physically ejaculate at those places.

WO: Tell us about your first experience with porn?

DT: I do talk about my first experience with porn in the show, but that wasn’t really a porn, it was THE HONEYMOONERS. (What the heck do I mean? You have to come to the show to find out. It’s only $15.)

The first time I saw a porn movie was in seventh grade. I was at my friend Sal’s house. It was me and my best friends, Sal, Marc, Joey, and Matt (real names– sorry, guys). This was not the first time my friends had watched a porn in my presence. But the other times I hadn’t watched. I went into my friend Sal’s room and played video games because I thought porn was immoral. I really wanted to be a priest at the time (seriously, I wanted to be a priest until I was 14). They called me Father Dave for not watching porn with them. But this time they convinced me to watch it for the comic value. And it WAS funny as hell. And I didn’t expect that. The dialogue was so silly. The scene I remember was this woman in a restaurant talking to a man. They were both wearing business suits. And she said “Are you gonna fuck me, or am I gonna have to beat my meat?” And we all lost our minds at how funny it was to hear an adult woman say that phrase. Other than that, I remember how utterly uncomfortable it was to have a boner in front of a bunch of guys. I covered it with a pillow. (To this day I do not like to have a boner in front of other men. Going to a strip club? Guess who won’t be coming: Father Dave.)

WO: Porn and comedy seem to be forever connected. What do you think it is about the two that links them together?

DT: I’ve always wondered when jokes found their way into porn. Could it have always been that way? Did it happen when those weird Victorian porn stories first got written? I think it stems from the release of joy that happens during sex. It’s endorphin overload, and giddiness leads to spontaneous laughter. When you’re pounding your girlfriend, once you’re really comfortable with each other, things make you giggle. You keep it serious when you first start dating because you want them to be turned on. But eventually one of you will accidentally make a fart sound with your mouth against the other person’s thigh or butt or ballsack. And then it becomes okay to be silly. You crack jokes. Part of it is because it’s just funny to be naked in various Greco-Roman wrestling positions with another person. It brings you back to your animal state. No clothes. No social mores. You become a couple of feral cats playing with leaves in a forest, except the leaves are covered in pubes.

WO: What are some of your favorite stand-up bits or sketches about porn?

DT: I can’t think of a single bit that’s specifically about porn. Weird. I know there are plenty I’m blanking on. I love Dave Attell, he does a lot of it, but I can’t think of a single bit of his to reference.

It’s not technically about porn, but Patton Oswalt’s bit from Werewolves and Lollipops about cleaned-up filth in his own jokes for TV always kills me: “I’m gonna fill your hoo-ha with goof juice” never gets old.

Louis CK does a great bit on Word about how porno actors work so hard that if we put them to work doing something altruistic the world would be a better place. If only dudes could get off on seeing people do charity work: “Ohh, yeah, giving those kids a chance! Ahhh, that’s fuckin hot!”

I love the Kids in the Hall skit where the Chicken Lady calls a phone sex hotline.

And Boogie Nights, though a great art house film, has 45 minutes of the funniest lines and observations about porn ever assembled. To name just one: “I like simple pleasures, like butter in my ass, lollipops in my mouth. That’s just me. That’s just something that I enjoy. ” Thank you, Paul Thomas Anderson.

WO: Did you pick the line-up for the show based on material the comedians already have about porn, or a gut feeling like they’d be masters on the subject? If so, what made you think so?

DT: I wanted a real spectrum of the porn experience. I had a pool of hilarious comedians in my mind who I knew wouldn’t mind working blue, and from those I picked ones that fit different parts of the spectrum. So my first thought was How do I dice up porn? First, by era: magazine/VHS, then slow-loading JPEGs and MPEGs, then streaming porn. Kensil is old enough to remember the 70s and 80s. Pearlman has a great bit about waiting for a JPEG to load. And Joey Dougherty is young enough to not remember a time before streaming porn.

I wanted to have people talk about gay porn, married men and porn, black porn, what women watch and read, etc. So I filled each of those slots with someone who cracks me up. (I just said “filled each of those slots” and “cracks” in the same sentence. You’re welcome.) Some of them I picked because I’ve heard them be really dirty, like Darryl Charles and Juliet Hope Wayne, but for most of them I haven’t heard them be filthy, and knowing that they will be filthy in this show is an exciting prospect. And Mary Radzinski suggested Timaree Schmit to me, telling me that she has her PhD in Human Sexuality. That added a category I hadn’t thought of: the expert opinion.

WO: Ted Bundy blamed his addiction to porn for his violence and once said: “I’ve met a lot of men who were motivated to commit violence just like me. And without exception, without question, every one of them was deeply involved in pornograpy.” What would you have to say to Ted Bundy?

DT: Ted, I have watched thousands of hours of porn. Defiled a million tissues. And I have never struck a woman. Unless she wanted me to because we were having rough-times sex.

Ted, most killers are loners. Everyone is somewhat into porn, or at the very least naughty thoughts. Loners are obsessed with porn because it’s their only outlet for a simulacrum of human intimacy. But most loners are just nerds, not killers.

Ted, I bet every single man who perpetrates violence against women is deeply involved in eating pizza. Are you suggesting that we outlaw pizza? Are you suggesting that pizza has blood on its hands? That’s not blood, Ted, that’s sauce. Don’t be crazy, Ted.

Oh, you can’t help being crazy? That was actually insensitive of me to say? Well, I apologize.

Hey, Ted, do you need help getting that couch into that van? You probably can’t do it yourself with your arm in a sling. Here, let me get the front end of that for you…

WO: On the other hand, defenders of porn (like Dirk Diggler) say that viewers can use it as a learning tool. What have you learned about comedy from porn?

DT: [Dave Terruso has been missing for the past 24 hours. If you have any information about his whereabouts, please come to L’Etage at 8:30 on October 10.]

THE PORNOLOGUES are (as the robot filling in for the missing Dave Terruso just said) this Wednesday, October 10, at L’etage. Tickets can be purchased online.

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