Joey Diaz – Stand-Up Revolution

September 2, 2011 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

The world was a much different place seven years ago for stand-up comedian Joey “CoCo” Diaz. Back then, he was landing small roles in big studio movies like “Taxi” with Jimmy Fallon and “The Longest Yard” with Adam Sandler. Not only that, the Cuban-American funny man was 100 lbs. heavier and far from the social-media butterfly he is today.

“Now I’m on Twitter and Facebook and can talk to my fans online,” Diaz told me during an exclusive interview last week. “Then when I do a show, there they are. It makes things a lot different.”

Along with communicating with his fans via Twitter (@madflavor) and Facebook, Diaz speaks to them on his podcast “Beauty and Da Beast” (beautyanddabeast.com) alongside stand-up comic Felicia Michaels. He can also be heard as a frequent guest on comedian Joe Rogan’s popular podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience.”

Currently, Diaz can be seen on the comedy DVD “Gabriel Iglesias Presents Stand-Up Revolution,” featuring performances from stand-up comedians including Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias, Martin Moreno, and Rick Gutierrez.

The last time I interviewed you was in 2005 for your role in the remake of “The Longest Yard” with Adam Sandler and Chris Rock. What has change since then?

A lot of things have changed. I have some white hair. I have a wife now. I have a few cats. I’ve lost 100 lbs. It’s given me a chance to look at my life and gain more control of it. After “The Longest Yard,” I crashed really hard. The movie came and went and I thought, “When is the phone going to ring?” I thought about quitting completely and getting a day job. But like Shakespeare says, “The fault is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”

How did that affect your life as a stand-up comedian?

Well, I really started looking hard at my stand-up. I was sick and tired of doing dirty jokes, so I decided I would tell more stories on stage about my personal life. Now, my stand-up is more real.

Are you more focused on your stand-up career now than on landing another role in a big movie?

When I did “The Longest Yard” I thought doing movies and TV was everything. I don’t look at it like that no more. It’s not an experience that is going to change my life. I like what I’m doing now with my stand-up and podcast. Before, people would see my stand-up and they’d be like, “Oh, he comes out in that Adam Sandler movie.” Now, I have people who know me from my podcast and for [comedian] Joe Rogan’s podcast, which is the No. 1 podcast in the country on iTunes.

Do you feel podcasting has kind of redefined who you are as a comedian?

Yeah, because I get to be me. It does more for my career than a stupid television show on NBC would. On NBC I gotta play Max the Bookie or Max the Fireman. On the podcasts, I get to talk about the stuff I really feel in my heart.

You’ve been in this business for a long time. Could you imagine what all this technology could have done for your industry 20 years ago?

Yeah, instead of Richard Pryor going home and doing coke, he would’ve been going home and getting on Twitter.

Tell me more about your role in “Gabriel Iglesias Presents Stand-Up Revolution.” Do we see the new and improved Joey Diaz in this?

Yeah, it used to be when I would get tapped to do these types of things I would never really get fired up, but I did for this one. I got to hang out with Gabriel. I put a suit on for this one. I was able to tell more stories. I’m just happy that someone thought about me and knew I was still here rocking the house.

When you get together with a group of comedians like this, what’s the ambiance like? Are you all constantly making each other laugh? Do you size each other up?

It depends on which comedians. But a lot of these comedians [on “Revolution”] are my friends. I’ve known them since Day One. I did a show with Martin Moreno 13 years ago where he got off the stage at a bar and beat someone up and then went back on stage to bring up the next comic. I’ve known Gabriel since we took a plane to Tucson, Arizona for $150 and we both fell asleep and he lost his virginity. I know these guys!

Joey Diaz – The Longest Yard

May 9, 2005 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

Although comedian Joey “Coco” Diaz’s true love is stand-up, he doesn’t mind squeezing in a film or television role every now and then to broaden his horizons.

“Nothing is as fun as doing stand-up – nothing,” Diaz told me in his thick New York accent via phone from Los Angeles. “But that’s what’s great about being a stand-up comedian and an actor. I can book stand-up all year long and if I get a movie, ‘bang,’ I cancel it. I don’t lose.”

Born in Havana, Cuba, Diaz grew up on the West Side of New York where he played defensive end for his high school football team. Now, cast in “The Longest Yard,” a remake of the 1974 film, which stars Adam Sandler and Chris Rock, Diaz finds himself back on the gridiron once more.

“After [high school], I never played football again,” Diaz said. “With this it was a lot different. You had to get used to having a helmet on again.”

Diaz started his film career playing a referee in 1998’s “BASEketball” and then went on to received other roles, including 2002’s “Analyze That” starring Robert DeNiro and 2004’s “Taxi” starring Queen Latifah. He has also made special guest apperances on television shows, including “Cold Case” and “Law and Order: SVU.”

A personal favorite film moment, Diaz said, was when he played one of the train passengers in “Spider-Man 2” who stands up to Doc Ock.

“Oh, I would have beat up Dr. Octopus,” Diaz said, explaining that there just wasn’t enough room on the train during the fast-paced scene. “I would have knocked him out…and showed him who was boss.”

After his brush with cinematic heroism, Diaz then heard about the remake of “The Longest Yard,” a film he first saw as a child, but had doubts about the idea of redoing the Burt Reynolds sports flick.

“When I heard they were going to do a remake and it was starring Adam Sandler and Chris Rock I was like ‘Yughhh,’” Diaz said. “But then I though about it and realized that [“The Longest Yard,” 1974] had a lot of gaps. I knew Adam would break down the characters a lot more.”

In “The Longest Yard,” a former professional quarterback is forced to put together a group of inmates to play football against the prison guards. Diaz, portrays a convict named Big Tony, a “violent, but lovable…ex-mob guy from New Jersey” whose been in the pen for 15 years.

“He’s kind of whacked,” Diaz explains, “but you love him for who he is anyway.”

Once he found out he got the part, Diaz said the first thing he had to do to prepare for the role was get into shape. Although he had been studying Tang Su Do (a type of martial arts), Diaz, who professed that he is an orange belt, knew he wasn’t as physically fit as he needed to be.

“They had a personal trainer working with me just stretching,” Diaz said. “I don’t even have to tell you what kind of shape I was in.”

Despite his flabby appearance, Diaz did look up to muscle-head football players growing up, including New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor. Not one of those hardcore football fans, per se, Diaz, who admitted he was “a fan of whoever covers the spread,” also followed the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Oilers. Like the original, this year’s “The Longest Yard” uses pro-football players to help add to the realism of the film, including ex-Chicago Bear Bob “The Beast” Sapp and ex-Cowboy Michael Irving.

“I first met Michael Irving on ‘The Best Damn Sports Show Period’ and I fell in love with him immediately,” said Diaz, adding that he would rather watch Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) instead of football. “He has this really warm personality and is such a strong-minded guy.”

Along with Irving, Diaz said he also had a close bond on the set with Chris Rock, who he knew from the stand-up circuit.

“I would just turn to Chris and say, ‘Chris, I need a line’ and he would come up with something in like two seconds.”

Improvisation was a perfect match for Diaz who always ad-libs when on stage. He said that working with actors like Sandler, “who doesn’t go by the script,” felt like home to him.

“Anything can happen with Adam,” Diaz said. “I figured it out and made adjustments so I could get into the scene with his type of mentality.”

In one such scene, Diaz said he stripped down to a thong and a pair of work boots and went up to Sandler telling him he was going to do the scene in his limited attire.

“[Adam] said, ‘Hey, do what you want,’ and then he started laughing his ass off. It’s encouraging when someone is open to your ideas like that.”