Whether you know him as Frank Rossitano from 30 Rock, Toby Radloff from American Splendor, or as his guest characters on Flight of the Conchords or Curb Your Enthusiasm, Judah Friedlander is one thing and one thing only: The World Champion.
The 44-year-old comedian has been performing stand-up for more than 20 years now, and he's bringing his routine to Phoenix on Thursday for a three-day stint at Stand Up Live.
Friedlander is the self-proclaimed Champion of the World, and it's become his selling point. He used his champion status to publish a book in 2010 called How to Beat Up Anybody: An Instructional and Inspirational Karate Book in which he teaches readers to, you guessed it, beat up anybody.
The seasoned performer, famous for his deadpan delivery and quippy trucker hats, has been touring the world for the last five months. The World Champion (the title with which he signs his e-mails) took a quick break to talk with Jackalope Ranch via e-mail.
As you approach the tail end of your tour, what would you say was your favorite moment or show from the last few months? Performing in Sweden. They were a great crowd. My opening acts performed comedy in Swedish. And I performed in English. The audience did not miss a beat. They speak fluent English, seem to know American politics better than most Americans, and it's easier to understand them speaking English than it is for me to understand half of the people in England when they speak English. And they're a good mix of energetic and polite. And they like twisted dark stuff as well.
What about in a bigger scope? Your extra-dark black belt not withstanding, what would you say has been the biggest accomplishment of your career? I have not made that happen yet. But I will. I feel like I am still in the Rocky 1 phase of my career. I've been doing stand-up for well over 20 years, but have yet to get my shot at the title. By next year I will release a stand-up comedy album and stand-up comedy concert movie. Those are the two immediate big projects that I'm working on.
Explain the theme your stand-up routine in as few words as possible. Winner. America. Justice. Karate. Future President. Global Sex Symbol. Role model to children.
What is the most valuable lesson people will learn from reading your book, How To Beat Up Anybody? Never fight foot-to-foot with a Bigfoot. Attack its upper body first. Bigfoot attacks are on the rise because of deforestation.
Do you design your own hats? If not, where do the ideas come from? All of the hats I wear that say "World Champion" were awarded to me when I won the World Championship. Any hat I wear that does not say "World Champion," I made myself.
And the question on all of our minds, which is your favorite hat? "Juara Dunia." It means "World Champion" in Indonesian.
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What can people expect from your show in Phoenix? They will laugh harder than they ever have before and will laugh more frequently than ever before. It's the most intense abdominal workout any human can do. Everyone will leave with a six pack. People might want to get medically cleared before attending the show.
Friedlander is at Stand Up Live Thursday, November 14, through Saturday, November 16. Friedlander performs his first show on Thursday at 8 p.m. and his last show on Saturday at 9:45 p.m. The Thursday and late Friday show are 18-and-over, the rest are 21 and up. For more information on showtimes and to purchase tickets ($22), visit www.standuplive.com.
Editor's note: This post has been modified from its original version.