Norm McDonald + Dead Milkmen + Chris Jericho = Sean O'Connor

Words: Andrew R. Fetter
Sean O’Connor has already had an established comedy career before releasing his debut stand-up album, James Dean Type. He’s performed stand-up on Conan O’Brien as well as his own Comedy Central special that aired last year. Not to mention writing for shows like “Sports Show with Norm MacDonald”, “The Ben Show with Ben Hoffman” and FOX’s “Animation Domination High-Def” (plus working as a producer on “Upload with Shaquille O’Neal”). However, as I found out in my conversation with him, it wasn’t where he envisioned himself at first.
Was comedy something you had always wanted to do or did you have other aspirations?
Well, I didn’t really want to do stand-up comedy at first. I actually wanted to pursue a career in the music industry. I was in a band called ‘Sean O’Connor’s Fan Club. We just played comedy songs. But the band actually had to break up because scheduling was a nightmare. The other members were in other bands and it was hard to make my little fantasy band a huge priority. So, I then gravitated towards comedy and started performing stand up.
What influenced you as you moved towards comedy?
I guess the best way to describe my influences would be an equal mix of Norm McDonald, Dead Milkmen and Chris Jericho the wrestler.
That’s an interesting mix for a comedian.
Yeah, I was super into wrestling growing up and then I got back into it over the past four years. At some point in my life, I decided that just because I’m growing up doesn’t mean the things I like have to be grown up.
It’s interesting that you say that, because on the album you talk about your obsession with Ke$ha. When did that start?
It started with my girlfriend and I making these cheesy mix CDs for each other. I’ve seen her live a couple of times now and she really brings it every time she performs. And I always figured that the way she is in her music isn’t the way she is in real life. But when I met her I discovered that she totally is. She over-sexualizes things way more than they need to be.
How did you decide on the title of the record? It’s something you say on the record, but it’s almost in passing and seems to go unnoticed.
The title comes from something I said on stage that actually bombed. But I didn’t want to change it. I have a random process for how I write new material. I’ll think of something in the past that was funny and I focus on one thing in particular and just run it into the ground. I think the whole album really fits my vibe of not really caring. I mean we all want people to succeed, but I think part of my act is creating characters that lose. It’s always the biggest fear I have is bombing. You just have to move on and even try to play off it and make it work.
Is this material on this album all new or is there stuff you’ve been doing for a while?
Half of the album is old material and the other half is all new stuff. I lot of the older jokes I told didn’t really work anymore, so I had to move on from it real quickly. A joke is something that if it’s told too much it can go wrong real quick. It’s not like seeing a band where even if some of the songs are a little sloppy, you can still get into it.
You’ve done a few appearances on Conan. I’m curious what the difference is for you between performing in a club as oppposed to performing on television.
Being on TV is just completely nerve-wracking, way more so that performing in a club. I just freak out every time I do it. The first time I was on Conan I licked my lips 17 times because I was so thirsty and…I just wanted to live. That’s where my focus was. What’s so hard about it is that you’re not only performing for all those people and the TV cameras and everyone else who will see you on TV. You’re also performing for Conan, who is sitting just to the right of you, watching you perform.