Local Standup Josh Arnold on Singing Alone in the Car, Baseballs and Being "Half-Fat"

Aug 2, 2011 at 11:33 am
click to enlarge Standup Josh Arnold: "I'm fat blah" - Photo by Nils Hinshaw
Photo by Nils Hinshaw
Standup Josh Arnold: "I'm fat blah"
Fenton-born standup Josh Arnold is a big, good-natured, chuckling bear of a comic who never misses a chance to broadcast his own foibles. And we mean that literally: On Wednesday, the 33-year-old funnyman is returning as a guest on the nationally syndicated Bob&Tom Show

You've been a guest on Bob&Tom a few times now; I think those unfamiliar with standup don't realize how big of a deal that is.

If you get on Bob&Tom, and you do well and you go back, it can do for comedian what The Tonight Show used to do. They have five million listeners a week. People come out to clubs to see guys they heard on that show.

Here in town you've opened for big names such as Dave Attell and Todd Barry, but you're kind of a road warrior too, hauling to gigs all over the Midwest. How do you pass the time in your car?

Singing. I sing a lot in my car, whether it be along with CDs, or with songs I'm making up. Which is pretty psychotic, but it happens. Far too often. I do listen to recordings of my sets, and try to rework them. I talk out loud new ideas. I clearly don't have a Bluetooth in my head, so anybody who passes me has got to think I'm a lunatic.

Some of those gigs are in tiny Midwestern dives. What's that like?

I did this show -- I don't even remember the name of the town. It was in Illinois, about a half hour away from Springfield. We pulled up and it looked like someplace that Leatherface would live. It was like two shacks put together, with a tent in a middle. It was just this crazy, biker hillbilly bar, and I thought, 'This is going to be the worst night of my life.' And the show was amazing.

At these places, they almost don't know how to act. They don't heckle so much as just talk out loud, as if we [the comics] are on TV and we can't hear them. The only thing I could equate it to would be like a gospel church, where I'll say something and they're like, 'Ain't that the truth!' or 'That's you, Fred!" They can't help themselves. It definitely keeps you on your toes. 

What were you doing before you made the switch to full-time comedy?

I still do some stuff for [the St. Louis-based sporting goods company] Rawlings. I've done everything there from working in the mail room to writing copy, but lately it's been more presentation-type things. I used to get up in front of people, and I would do demonstrations on how baseballs were sewn.

No shit?

A lot of people don't realize that every baseball is hand-sewn. There's not a machine that can do it.

Any other factoids?

There are 108 stitches on every baseball.

click to enlarge T-shirts inspired by one of Josh Arnold's bits. - Image via
T-shirts inspired by one of Josh Arnold's bits.
Saw that one of your bits has spawned a line of t-shirts. What's the bit about? 

I'm definitely overweight, but really, I'm 'half-fat.' I'm fat from my face to my waist and that's it. I have legs that deer have admired from afar.

So how are the 'Half-Fat' t-shirts selling?

Very well! Can you wear a large?

I prefer a medium.

I didn't order any mediums because they're for half-fat people.