The wide-angle shot of Chad Zumock's career reveals a lot of notable stops: the early days with Last Call Cleveland; a stab at stand-up in L.A. sharing bills with big acts like Sarah Silverman and Daniel Tosh; and today, a place on WMMS's afternoon line-up. As co-host of the Alan Cox Show, Zumock pipes in with a class-clown swagger listeners love to hate. While the show holds top ratings, Zumock still finds time to work a stage with fresh material. See this week's Get Out pages for info on his Friday show at Reddstone.
I know you're a Cleveland guy, so let's say you're locked in a room with LeBron. What do you say?
You know what's awesome? I know a lot of people in his camp and they say, "LeBron knows exactly who you are; he knows what you say on air." He's a psychopath — he acts like he doesn't care, but he pays attention to everything. If I was in a room with him? Jesus, I'm trying to think of the two years of hatred I've spewed, condense that down. [Pause] You know, I'm a pussy. I wouldn't say anything. I'd just be like, "Oh my God, here's a 6'9" black guy." I'm a coward who hides behind a mic.
The Alan Cox Show is killing in the ratings. What's the secret?
I really do think it's a chemistry thing. Each of us appeal to somebody. Erika [Lauren] is young; she has a younger point of view. Alan is very intelligent, very quick-witted. We can cover a lot of ground. There's no ceiling. We can go from politics to 1920s cinema. We talk about what we want to talk about; if people enjoy it, cool.
Are people who call into radio shows really just stupid? Or do you guys filter in the morons?
Alan and I have different philosophies on that. Alan wants all callers to go through because he loves trying to spin gold from something awful, where I just don't have the time or patience. If you're gonna sound like an idiot, I'm going to call you an idiot. They can be fun, though. Some of the callers have become part of the show.
You have Mark Nolan on the show all the time and he's always incredibly nice. Is that legit? Or does he have dead hookers buried in his basement?
Either that's going on — he's a mass murderer — or he just is a gift from God. He's hilarious and the nicest guy. Alan and I are almost turning him into a cult hero, some sort of iconic symbol. But he's a good sport. I really do think he became more famous because of our show. He'll come to some of our events and people just chant his name.
You've made the sweater vest your trademark. How'd that start?
I used to be in Last Call Cleveland, and we used to do sketch festivals. One year, we decided to all wear sweater vests. Then I quit doing Last Call, started doing stand-up, and moved to L.A. I was doing open mics for like six months, and then I got an audition at the Hollywood Improv. I was going on after Jim Gaffigan. I was nervous — a newbie auditioning to be a regular at the club. That night I wore a sweater vest as homage to my old sketch group, and as a good luck charm, just to feel comfortable on stage. I murdered. I killed. I had one of the best sets to this day. I don't know how it happened; it was lightning in a bottle. And I remember after the show a lady asking, "Who was that kid in the sweater vest?" It dawned on me: I'm the guy in the sweater vest.
Radio and stand-up are both famous for bloated egos. Has that been your experience?
Comics are crazy, but radio guys are fucking nuts. I've never seen anything like it. The whole business is weird. I'm in the monster, but I'm never going to let it consume me. There's a level of popularity that comes from the show, and we do these Alan Cox Show Comedy Tours that sell out and we're rock stars for a night. But it's so fleeting. I constantly think the next day I'll be fired. I need stuff for a balcony, but I'm not going to buy it. I'm still saving like this is all going to be done.