Exclusive: Comedian Dan Soder talks internet porn, Louis C.K., and his ‘Not Special’ special

Dan Soder does not tell jokes as much as he spills laughter out of your body with his stream-of-consciousness rants.

Dan Soder is funny, because Dan Soder is funny — a perpetual laugh bubbling under the surface that manifests in spastic facial expressions and extended tangents. If you’ve never laughed at one of his jokes, you probably will soon. In addition to his recurring gigs on Showtimes’s hit drama Billions and The Bonfire on Sirius XM Radio, co-hosted with Big Jay Oakerson, he’s also appearing in the upcoming comedy Drunk Parents with Alec Baldwin and Salma Hayek, as well as the new season of Inside Amy Schumer.

In addition to his other gigs, the 32-year-old comedian’s first hour-long special, Not Special, will air on Comedy Central this month. Digital Trends recently spoke with Soder on a variety of topics, from his work on Billions to how internet porn has taken away the awe of naked women.

Digital Trends: How long have you been pursuing comedy and when did you know this is what you wanted to do?

Dan Soder: I’ve been pursuing comedy 11, going on 12 years. I feel like I started in 2004 when I did my first open mic, then around 2005 is when I really knew I was going to start pursuing it.

What was the big break that made you feel like you’d finally “made it?”

I don’t think I’ve really had an “I made it” moment. I don’t really know how good it is for a comedian to kind of think that. Personally, I always think you should never be content in comedy. I don’t know if it’s a healthy way to look at it. When I did Live At Gotham on Comedy Central, that was my first moment of “oh, wow, this is pretty cool. I’m on a TV set.”

At the start of your career YouTube and Facebook were just getting started, Twitter didn’t exist, and there were no iPhones. Comparing 2005 to now, how has technology changed comedy?

Technology has affected comedy in positive and some negative ways. Positive ways, I can record every one of my sets with little to no hassle and have a quality recording on my iPhone so I can go over my sets and jokes that way. I can record them, video-wise, to see what it looks like. I’m able to connect with fans and put a lot more information out there about how people can see me. There’s a lot of good. People can bootleg my stuff and I always say you shouldn’t be mad about a bootleg. It just means someone wants it. I think all of that was A LOT harder in 2004-2005.

Also (there’s) the negative stuff. People are able to reach out to you and sometimes it can be purely malicious. People will talk shit to you and not understand there’s another human being at the other end of this line.

How important is getting a special on Comedy Central to a comedian’s rise?

It’s really important. This is my first hour special, but more importantly, this is my first album. If there’s fans of mine that are out there and have only seen me do shorter sets in a Comedy Central half-hour special, this is a good opportunity to get a full album. I’m going to take my time and work this in more detail. I always say the half hour special is kind of like the EP and the hour special is like the LP. The full album.

Your special has a lot of really funny insights, such as how porn is way too easy to get in the internet era. How has the internet changed porn for children? 

It’s made it so readily available that it’s insane. There’s really kind of desensitized. My personal opinion, and I could be completely wrong, but I feel like when you see naked women or when you see hardcore porn from an early age, it’s just going to desensitize teens. I remember seeing naked breasts for the first time on TV or on movies and being like “ohhh man, that’s crazy. I saw a titty.” Now it’s nothing. I don’t like that little kids have that cool guy mentality where you’re not excited to see a naked woman. I stopped watching porn  just to get away from it and appreciate and bask in a naked woman. I feel like these kids when they see a naked girl they’re like “yeah, so what?” You should be blown away.

If you have to use the word ‘artisanal’ you’re grabbing at thin air.

It’s even crazier because this is the first generation that are “sexting,” able to send and receive a naked picture of someone within seconds …

I remember how uncomfortable I was as a kid. It’s amazing that kids are sexting in high school. If I knew a girl had interest in me in high school, it would throw me into such a panic. Now, kids are good at sexting. I think that’s a weird sentence to say. There’s a kid out there who’s a romantic like “oh, I’m going to send you a nice loooong sext.” [Laughs] You’re a fuckin’ kid.

The world is changing so quickly with the unconventional and taboo now becoming mainstream. You touch on the phenomena in your special when you say the new wave of marijuana legalization has turned your formerly unemployed stoner friends into “the leading experts in their field.” What other new professions do you think are hilarious?

I think anything with the word “artisanal” in it. If you have to use the word artisanal then you’re fuckin’ grabbing at thin air. You’re not really creating something that fancy. The egg sandwich at Wendy’s for breakfast is called The Artisanal Sandwich. Yeah? There’s a guy who dropped out of art school to make a fuckin’ quick breakfast sandwich at Wendy’s? No. Stop using that word.

You’re a busy man. You co-host The Bonfire on Sirius XM Radio, you are developing the Comedy Central digital series Used People into a TV show, but to me, the most impressive is your regular role on one of my favorite shows this year, Showtime’s Billions. I love Billions so much I’ve pirated it a few times. 

[Laughs] Hey, good for you. I don’t care, as long as you’re watching it. Now, obviously people who run the networks and shit, they have a vested interested. I think just as a comedian, a person on this side of it who is just trying to make something, I don’t think I’ll ever be too upset about a bootleg. Unless someone indirectly is making a lot of money off work that I’ve done — then it’s a problem. If someone is putting it out there just to share it and people are listening to it, I feel flattered by that.

Speaking of Billions, besides David Costabile who plays Wags, your character Mafee is the only real comic relief on the drama. What are those sets like for someone like you?

The cast is fuckin’ amazing. The writers and entire crew is awesome. It’s a fun set to work on. Obviously it got intense when it needed to get intense, but most of the time it was a real fun, cool environment. Just a real cool place to work.

Are you back for season two?

I don’t know. They start filming season two in June. I hope to be back.

We’re a tech site, so here’s a tech question for you: If you could invent one tech product that would help your life, what would it be?

I would probably do an app that reminds me when to respond to emails. Sometimes I read an email or text messages and I’ll just be busy. There’s so much coming at you today with our cell phones. I think it’s overwhelming being a human being right now, because we haven’t evolved to catch up with our technology. I would just need something that helps me play catchup. It’ll be like “hey, here’s three emails.” You can tap them and put them in an app, and then you go to that app later in the day and it’ll remind you. Sort of like a to-do list app for emails.

Who’s a comedian you would want to model your career after? 

There’s so many guys. The most contemporary comedian I would want to model my career after would be Louie [ Louis C.K.] and Bill Burr, because those two guys are always going to have an audience. They built their audience the right way. Louie is very famous, but Bill Burr is famous too. Bill Burr is famous for being fuckin’ hilarious. Just being the man and the best comedian working. There’s a lot to be said for establishing yourself like that.

To hear more from Dan Soder’s hilarious take on the modern world, catch his hour-long special, Not Special, on Comedy Central May 21 at 11 p.m. ET/PT.

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