Danny Felts

Good Funny People #4: Robbie Pankow

Danny Felts

It’s difficult to think that Robbie isn’t the most affable person you’ll meet in your day, which if you’re a square may not be your first impression when you see him. I say this because Robbie is at the very least recognizable. Going off clothing alone I’ve seen him in an a very purple t-shirt prominently featuring the rapper Cam’ron, straight magenta Vans sneakers, and a stark black hat with the word “Death” written in Old English letter on the front. And I’m 100% for all of it. Full Disclosure: As of writing this I’m wearing robin egg blue shorts and a t-shirt with a hamburger/american flag pattern repeating over itself so “casting the first stone” and all that jazz.

The cool thing about Robbie though is that everything he does and says comes from a genuine place. I know half a dozen dudes with weirdo WWII era haircuts who couldn’t tell you why they got them, but everything Robbie does is fairly purposeful and even more importantly something he genuinely enjoys. That combined with what I can only describe as an effortlessly chill stage demeanor makes for a really interesting cool person who's very much excelled in the past months.

(For Context: The night before recording this myself, Amanda Warder, and Robbie weirdly lost and then miraculously found his phone in Oldtown/Chinatown which should come as a miracle to anyone who knows what I nightmare that part of town can be.)


Hella Open

Hella Open

Danny: Not to be too in the present but that was quite a night last night. Wasn't that the most intense experience that's ever happened?

Robbie: One of 'em. I mean for the viewers (points to recorder) I lost my phone, we ran all over town finding it--me, Danny, and Amanda Warder--and we found it! Listeners at home: If you got a phone, get an App! To find it!

Danny: Find my iPhone. It's an extremely useful app and probably the reason we got it back.

Robbie: It is the entire reason. Amanda gave her number to the app so that it called her when the phone was found and she kept hitting the "ALERT" button so the phone would make noise and annoy the person who was trying to steal it.

Danny: It was such a crazy situation. It was making me nervous and insane just because I've had those situations where I don't even care if I've lost my phone, but just let me knowhow I lost it.

Robbie: Just the mystery was bad, I didn't know if it had fallen out my pocket. I guess that must be what happened.

Danny: The funny part is how did it get across town so quickly.

Robbie: Amanda and I have talked about it at length and determined that the guy who gave it back to us stole it and since he was at a halfway house kind of place they check you whenever you go in and out so you don't bring in drug paraphernalia and whatnot. So they may have been like, "Hey! This isn't your phone!", and then made him return it?

Danny: I didn't know that about halfway house protocol.

Robbie: Well the fact that he got led downstairs by a woman is usually a sign that they're not allowed to go in or out without some sort of supervision. Whether that be because of crimes or mental problems or whatever. Amanda's more set on it than I am, but I believe it. That is, that that man stole it and got shamed.

Danny: I guess I bring it up because last night was the first time I actually saw you sad. Like, I don't think I've ever seen you more sad than in that moment.

Robbie: I'm a real cellphone boy. I don't want to be missing that iPhone 5. I mean iPhone 6. That's the most pretentious shitty thing. What am I making myself sound poor cause I've got an iPhone 5. It's a 6 gang.

Danny: You're not a mongrel.

Robbie: Nah, I'm not a nightmare human. But yeah, that's the first time you've seen me real bummed out. Amanda's seen me bummed a few times. Mostly when people were mean to Meek Mill at the Nicki Minaj show. That was a real bummer for me.

Danny: We'll get into that later for sure.

Robbie: We could talk about that for hours.

Danny: Do you feel super connected to media and technology? Or was it purely the financial thing that bummed you out?

Robbie: All of those. The idea of not being able to interact with people is a nightmare. Just being alone. I take buses a lot. Like, hour long buses so doing that without podcasts or music is a nightmare. No alarm clock to wake up for work; that's right there in the phone. So, uh, basically all the stuff that I like that isn't talking face to face with a person. Or in groups for that matter.

Danny: I was going to say sometimes you feel like people are freaking out because they just don't know what they'd do without their phone anymore, but I feel like you genuinely utilize a lot of the stuff in it.

Robbie: I mean, it's sitting next to me right now but it's usually not out of my hand for more than 30 seconds?

Danny: You feel good?

Robbie: Oh yeah! It's back, it's fresh. I didn't have to buy a new one. That's another thing I didn't have the money to buy a new phone. I don't have $500 to just throw down. That's more than my rent. I can't just toss that out because I'm an idiot. So here's the lesson learned: If you have a big bulky hoodie pocket just don't put it in there. Set it in a sleek back pocket or in your hand.

Danny: Or front pocket?

Robbie: Yeah, but check this out though.

(at this point Robbie tried to put his phone in his front pocket and it only went in half way)

Danny: Oh man! It's just peeking out!

Robbie: For everyone not viewing this in person (everyone) I'm wearing ladies skinny jeans and they do NOT have deep pockets. They fit about a chapstick, a lighter, keys, and a pipe.

Danny: And that's about it.

Robbie: Nailed it.

Danny: Lets get back to Meek Mill for a second. Because you went down to San Diego, CA.

Robbie: I did. I went down to see the Nicki Minaj "Pink Print" tour originally co-staring Meek Mill...no longer the co-star. Now, he gets to do a 10 minute set in the middle of Nicki's set that the audience does not like.

Danny: What happened!

Robbie: He went on Twitter about a month ago and just said that Drake doesn't write his own songs and that he has ghost writers. Then Drake came back at him with diss tracks and A LOT of memes. Like, Drake did a show in Toronto, CA where he played one of the diss tracks he had written and then in the background on the screens behind him there were just a bunch of Meek Mill memes. Talkin' shit.

Danny: Really?

Robbie: Yeah, and he won. America decided, "Yeah, fuck this guy".

Danny: Oh my gosh. That's gotta say something about our culture.

Robbie: it says that Drake is unstoppable, just like Scientology. You don't say anything bad about Drake or you're done.

Danny: Drake says: "Look! I get I was on that TV show. And now I'm working 10x as hard to be great, so don't cross me.".

Robbie: Yeah, and he's got the muscle of the people. He's the people's champ! He's like The Rock in '99. Don't wrong him or you'll get The People's Elbow.

(btw Google "The People's Elbow" next time you're bored. There's something oddly cathartic about The Rock's finishing wrestling moves, and it's not surprising he's had such a long lasting career)

Danny: I actually just watched "Straight Outta Compton" and there's scenes where Suge Knight is telling Dr. Dre how he'll off people to retaliate and in 2015 is Drake being like, "I'm gunna make some memes!".

Robbie: We live in a softer era. Which I like, I don't need my favorite rappers getting murdered. I'd rather they're just made to look fools. That's a lot more my speed. It makes me want to have a real comedy beef. I mean, I don't know that I want to do that because...airing public laundry does not seem like a good position to be in. To genuinely explain to everyone, "Hey fuck this guy. Here's a bunch of memes explaining how dumb he is.". That'd be so funny to make those memes, but I don't need that drama.

Danny: People are ok with beef and feuds in music but in comedy it just gets to be too much.

Robbie: Yeah! It's the being a shitty person thing and it's also a community thing. In mainstream huge music it's not really an all for one kinda vibe because everyone's trying to be the number one person. Which I guess in comedy everyone is trying to be the top dog as well, but there's a lot more help from friends. Supporting one another and things of that nature. If you were on a mission to take some dude down in comedy people would probably not think you are nice.

(at this point an exact replica of the General Lee from Dukes Of Hazard drove by us. It had a custom horn and everything)

Danny: Well, at least that guy's happy.

Robbie: Is he though?

Danny: Let's get back to beef for a second. I keep finding it's good not to push it too much. Like, I think it's the id to air beef but ultimately you can't do it.

Robbie: It certainly wouldn't do me any favors. It's not going to skyrocket me into success. Like, if I just went head to head in a bitter rivalry with someone and aired all their secrets and dirty laundry I don't think that would benefit anyone.

Danny: Well comics go too far. We all know exactly how to hurt a person. Rappers can say some shitty things, but I feel like not many are going to write a diss rap that says something like, "I know your existential dread terrifies you.".

Robbie: Rappers also just aren't that open. And the way people in town talk on stage I know things about them that could really fuck with their heads better than if I just listened to your rap album.

Danny: Otherwise things are pretty cool for you. You were in the finals this year!

(Robbie was one of twelve comedians to be in the finals in this years Portland's Funniest Person contest. Deservedly so.)

Danny: It was cool because I wanted to see you there, I wanted to see what would happen.

Robbie. I wanted to see me there! During the preliminaries I didn't feel like I was going to go further than that. Last year I did them--which anyone can do all you have to do is pay $20--and I didn't go past that. Some people thought I might have deserved it, but it just didn't happen. So I expected the same this year but that's the thing about comedy, I guess you get better with time so I went from not even a preliminary round passer to a finalist.

Danny: I guess it kinda feels like, "Cool? I guess this is fine?".

Robbie: It's the kinda thing to me where when you start open mics you see other people doing cool stuff and you aspire to one day do that, and everyone tells themselves that, but it's notreal. It's just your goals: What you hope to do. And this was the first time in my entire life probably where, "Someday I'll actually do that." happened.

Danny: "Someday" is "Today".

Robbie: It's the furthest I've gone in comedy yet.

Danny: How does that factor into perspective?

Robbie: It's tough. I can only say what's happenedliterally?Which is bookings have gone up, respect has gone up from random people I wouldn't have expected. People just coming up to you like, "Hey! You're great!" and now I know this random dude likes me all of sudden. That's weird.

As far as plans go though I don't want to be a dummy. I don't want to trick myself and think I'm at a certain level where I can do certain things and then realize that's not the case.

Danny: Not to paint an inaccurate portrait but I feel like lots of people see you and think you're very chill and reasonable--which is true--but I also think you're not a dummy. There's lots of calculations going on in there.

Robbie: Yeah, I'm aware of more than I say probably. I don't know. I feel like if you say things like, "Well this is where I belong, and we'll see what happens next. I bet it's going to be good!", like that seems like having an ego with blinders. It's easy to fall on your face from that position and look stupid. I guess deep down I'm just afraid of looking stupid.

Danny: Buddy, you don't have to tell me about feeling stupid. Probably #2 or #3 fear of mine.

Robbie: And it's not like I constantly think about it or anything like that. Maybe it's from being a kid, I guess? It just sticks with ya. Trying not to look dumb and get made fun of.

Danny: Do you think there's a moment where you can let go of it and just be confident? Part of me thinks that fear just sort of stays with you forever in a weird way where it doesn't matter how much you achieve.

Robbie: I feel like it never probably goes away completely? But, you can get away with more shit. With confidence and what have you. Like I'm a much more confident person then when I started because I've put in time, done enough stuff where I know what's a bad idea and what's a good one. I know when I've done bad one night, or when i've done good, or when it's a weird crowd, you know what I mean?

I feel like when I started I said a lot of dumb shit out of sheer ignorance. I just said a bunch of dumb stuff, and whether or not any of those things are true they still sound really dumb. Now, I still feel like I have the inherent fear of looking stupid or being proven wrong but the stakes are different. Cause it's not like anything I say is wrong and stupid. I've proven myself more.

Danny: You're not going out there with nothing. Your social collateral is higher.

Robbie: Even if I was to say to myself, "Tonight I'm going to go up and be really funny.", enough people have seen me actually do that to say, "Yeah, you are!". Whereas if I had said that a month into comedy they would've been like, "Alright buddy don't get ahead of yourself.". I feel like that's really all it is. Ya learn more.

Danny: You wanna talk about Bongcast Live real quick?

Robbie: Oh, I'd love to.

(Robbie is half of a Periscope show/podcast called Bongcast Live. Every week at 8:20PM he and Jen Tam broadcast from Jen's apartment usually and talk about all the latest news. There's also callers, guests, and snacks. And weed. There's definitely weed.)

Danny: I feel like Bongcast has a fun individuality to it that is extremely personable and interesting to me.

Robbie: Well, what happened is me and fellow Bongcaster, Jen Tam, had been talking for at least a year if not more about having some kind of show. We just knew the two of us together we needed to do something. Originally we talked about filming sketches for the internet like a web series, we talked about having a regular Podcast through iTunes, we talked about having a late night variety show with a live band and then interview guests and none of that ever happened. And then Periscope came out and it was very easy.

For people who don't know Periscope is just an app where you Facetime with everyone that wants to watch? People can view from home, they can chat with you. We actually made it a call in show because I think that's fun. I like "The Best Show". It's one of my biggest influences just in life. I grew up listening to Love Line and Howard Stern so they idea of having people call in and interact was always something I wanted to do. So I give out my personal phone number on the air and let whoever on the internet is watching call and talk to us.

Also, it's called Bongcast because we smoke weed out of Jen's bong. Eventually we're going to work out how to give out shitty prizes. Shitty prizes were an original goal. But yeah, it's a lot of fun it's weekly on Thursday at 8:20PM Pacific Time. Follow us @bongcastlive. I think we've been doing it for about 2 months now.

Danny: I think it combines two things people like on Periscope which is people doing drugs in a semi public fashion, and fun popular culture.

Robbie: Yeah, exactly. It's everything you would want from a show you would watch on your phone.

Danny: Have people gotten into it? You got some viewers?

Robbie: It's slow building. Last I checked we had 105 followers, which is pretty good for Periscope, I don't even know who uses Periscope to be honest.

Danny: I mean it may go the way of Vine, but who cares.

Robbie: For now it's fun and we can always find a different place if necessary. I mean we do have a total of 13,175 ♥s.

Danny: That's a lot of ♥s!

Robbie: And now we've got 109 viewers actually, four more since I last checked which was like two weeks ago so they're building fast. I mean, if Periscope goes away we'll find something else to do.

It's fun to do different things if that makes sense? Like post a broadcast as opposed to just doing stand up because I feel like it sharpens up different sides of things. I definitely feel more comfortable being mean to crowds than I did two months ago because I do a lot of that on Bongcast.

Danny: One may even say you are notoriously mean to the callers on Bongcast.

Robbie: Well, we have a policy which is, "No Wack Dudes". That was coined by Katie Rose Leon who is often in the audience. We get a lot of dopes who just saw the number and call in with poop jokes and as soon as that red flag goes off the crowd will start chanting, "NO WACK DUDES", and then we hang up on them and I say what I think about it.

Which is never nice. It's ribbing. It's playful. It's sincere?

Danny: No punches are pulled.

Robbie: I mean it's a joke, but I mean it. When someone calls in wasting time and I'm like, "Well this is bullshit", I mean that. But I'm saying it in a humorous way. I was never a tough kid so I had to figure out how to be funny and get out of fights while still standing my ground without actually having to be in the fights.

Danny: Well I'm excited for it. I think it'll be fun. No wack dudes.

Robbie: No wack dudes.


Check Robbie out at Helium for TEST TUBE! on 9/16 and The Sweet Spot on 9/19 @ N Williams. Say hello, but don't be a weirdo.