Shaun Latham loves food. When we connect by phone, his girlfriend has just placed a delivery order of bolognese for dinner. “I smoked a joint and had a few glasses of wine, so [this call] is perfect timing.” Timing appears to be one of the reasons Shaun’s relationship is so successful. When he’s not recording The Shaun Latham Show for Sirius Radio (weekly 10am-11am ET) or shooting episodes of “20 Dollar Chef” for Barstool Sports (new episodes every Wednesday), he’s in the kitchen cheffing up meals with his girlfriend. They cook together all the time, and her support is one of the key ingredients to his success.
It sounds like [your girlfriend] wants you to be your best self on and off the stage.
Shaun Latham: She’s way more of a homebody and she’s also not in a performance-related field. She loves that I’m a comedian and always gives really good advice and has great perspective, but you couldn’t pay her a million bucks to go on stage and do a five-minute comedy routine.
I think that’s why this relationship works compared to a lot of other relationships in my life. I’m also in a different place. I feel a lot more confident in myself and that I actually bring something to the table as opposed to being just a broke-ass comedian trying to make it. I’m not anywhere where I want to be yet, but I’m definitely more well-off than where I was. You can’t really question the timing of the universe.
You do your part with good intentions and the rest shakes out as it should.
Shaun Latham: Yeah, nothing can be forced. In my career, I’m always a step or two ahead in my mind of where I want to be. But nothing can be forced, you just have to accept things as they come. Occasionally, a younger comedian will ask me for “secrets.” I always say, “Just keep going.” The only secret is to keep going. To keep moving and have patience. There’s no two similar paths.
My favorite thing [about the journey] is the next new joke. Where am I going to find it? How is it going to present itself? How am I going to perfect it? And then when it hits, I’m so excited.
The craft of the joke is, in your case, a microcosm for people loving what they do, and the energy, time and patience that goes into that.
Shaun Latham: If you don’t feel like that, I don’t think the journey lasts. If you don’t find satisfaction in the smallest parts of the day-in day-out path, then what are you doing it for? The satisfaction comes from the art.
You moved around a lot as a kid. How did being the “class clown” ease the transition moving from place to place?
Shaun Latham: Nothing tops humor. If you show up and you’re funny, that’s it. It’s almost like instant respect. “Oh man, this new kid is funny.” If you’re funny, it’s an automatic invitation. Like as a comedian, when you finish a show, if people connected with you after an hour of comedy, they will open up their lives to you like you have been their brother for twenty years.
Moving around a lot as a kid, I had to find the right kind of funny. There’s “obnoxious” funny, there’s “corny” funny, there’s “get in trouble” funny. Then there’s just “regular” funny. I got in trouble a little bit while figuring out my medium. Some kids could be assholes, but funny, and their mom wouldn’t care if they got in trouble, so they could keep doing that. In my life, if I got in trouble at school, I would get my ass beat [at home], so I had to be funny but in a likeable way. And being funny definitely will make people like you right away.
I’ll finish a show and some people will invite me to places they won’t invite their closest family members. They open up the door and are like, “You are my friend now. You are super funny, I can relate to you, let’s be friends.” [That happens] whether you’re seven, eight, 10 or 30.
Humor is the great unifier.
Shaun Latham: It really is. Look at other comedians right now; Trevor Noah, Jo Koy, Gabriel Iglesias, Sebastian Maniscalco, Bill Burr, Burt Kreischer…these guys are selling out theaters and arenas. People just want it, they can’t get enough. I’m just a goofball who likes to cook food and be funny while I do it. And somehow it’s worked out.
What was your path to getting there?
Shaun Latham: I’m from Los Angeles, but from 15 to 25 I lived in Phoenix, and I started stand-up when I was 23. The Internet wasn’t even really a thing then. I mean it was, but not for like, normal people. I got a job as a food-runner and then a waiter at the Tempe Improv. While working there, I became friends with Gabriel Iglesias’ merchandise manager – Ivan Cuellar – who still works and tours with Fluffy around the world. And let me tell you, Gabrielle Iglesias selling shirts…that’s a business that brings in more than several stores in the mall. That’s how much merch he sells.
A really good buddy of mine – who is now the owner of a humongous place in Phoenix called O.H.S.O. Brewery – he [was the manager of] this bar in Tempe called Dos Gringos. It’s now a chain, but [the one I worked at] was the original one in Tempe, which is now a pile of dirt from violations of several different liquor license laws. It was an unbelievable place. I was clearing $300 to $400 a night bartending. My buddy, the manager, was always in my ear saying, “Leave Phoenix. Go to LA. Go do something with yourself. If it doesn’t work out, whatever I’m managing, I will hire you as a bartender.” So if things didn’t pan out, I’d be good. Right back to where I was. I said, “Alright, fuck it,” and just left.
I moved to Los Angeles in 2004, did stand-up there for 12 years. I had opened for Felipe Esparza and then in 2009, Gabriel started letting me go up on stage before him. After he brought me on tour, things started to happen. I got on [Gabriel’s] Comedy Central show a few times and then went out on my own. But things weren’t that great after I left the Fluffy tour. Once you’ve been around the world performing in theaters and arenas, it’s really hard to follow that by yourself.
Back in Los Angeles, I didn’t like what was going with myself. Around the same time, now it’s late 2015, there was this club I always played in Indianapolis that was the best club ever. Morty’s Comedy Joint. They owned a club in Louisville, which is now called The Caravan, and they owned a club in Dayton, Ohio called Wiley’s Comedy Club. [They hit me up] and were like, “Listen, we’re starting this group up. We’re inviting one comedian from Chicago, New York and LA and we’ve got a few here in Indy. Think more along the lines of an improv group, but we’re doing stand-up and a bunch of other stuff, too. Now, we know it’s not going to make you money, so in order to get you to come, we’ll get you in with our agency – The Yoder’s – and since you’re already headlining, you’ll headline all our clubs.” (They had like 30 clubs in the midwest you could just drive around and hit on the weekends).The only thing I wanted to do was be on stage, so in 2016 I took off for Indianapolis. And I still have a Goddamn storage unit in LA that I’m paying 180 bucks for! I need to go get rid of that. I’ve been paying that shit for five years.
Anyway, I left. I just brought my Prius, my dog and my stuff in my car. And Indy worked out well. I started doing shows for a while, and then one night I met Pat McAfee. He was a player for the Colts, but he was also starting to do stand-up here and there. We became good friends and started hanging out all the time. He’d get a private jet for a whole group of us and we’d go different places, like Detroit where another of our buddies was an Indy car driver. That’s another thing about Indianapolis that was cool, everybody had some cool shit going on. Like, I was just a comedian, and yeah, I had some tv credits from when I was out in LA. But one kid, Conor Daly, was a race car driver for Indy. Pat was a punter in the NFL. Todd, another guy in the group, was a 21 year old undercover state trooper, another guy was a motivational speaker. It was a really eclectic group of guys.
Pat later retired from the NFL and got hired by Barstool Sports to start his own operation in Indianapolis. He brought me on as a podcast guy with him and was like, “If we do video content, what do you want to do?” And we would always cook at my house and make cooking Snapchat videos. So I said I wanted to try a cooking show. And it started working. When Pat quit, he gave me his blessing, and I moved to New York and started working for Barstool. And it’s the best job possible for comedians. I have a drink episode once a week, I have a food episode once a week. Lately, I’ve been getting CBD sponsors. I can’t wait for shit to go legal because that just opens the door to weed sponsors and I can just start letting loose with weed content. “Cooking with Weed.” “Smoking Weed While I Cook.” I feel lucky everyday to be on a such a monster ship like Barstool Sports. It doesn’t make sense I get paid to work there. For “20 Dollar Chef,” in the episode where I smoke weed, you can just see the happiness in the comments.
What inspired you to cook?
Shaun Latham: Growing up, the number one rule in my house was at 5pm, you had to be home for dinner. There was no “being late to dinner,” no matter what I was doing in my child life. We never really ate out much, so as an adult, when I’d go home, all I’d really crave was my mom’s food. She’d call ahead of time and ask me what I wanted her to make, and then I’d give her a list of all the things I’d love to eat out of all the options she’d cooked over the years.
When I started touring, me and my buddy and roommate at the time – Martin Moreno – started cooking together. He’s a really good cook. After six months on tour, the last thing we wanted to do was leave the house and go somewhere to eat. So cooking dinner became our ritual and I would make videos of it.
Later on, I had another roommate [in Indy] – Todd McComas – and we started cooking together all the time. That’s when I started Snapchatting it up in Indy, and it just kind of worked itself out. I didn’t really decide, you know? It decided. I went from having 2,000 followers on Instagram to 20,000. Twitter went from 5,000 to 30,000. Then 40,000. It’s all from the show. And I just love food.
A lot of people are so intimidated by cooking. But anyone can do this. If I can do it, you can do it. I haven’t done shit that makes me any more special at [cooking] than you. Except for the fact that I love doing it, I love eating, and I’m stoned. And I like cutting stuff.
You know when you get in the zone and you’re good and lit? I’m not telling people to get stoned and cut food, but personally, I’m at a stage – the “black belt” stage – where I’m in the zone. There’s a satisfaction of having my favorite knife and I’m sitting there, rolling through an onion, carrots and celery.
Chopping away the stress of the day.
Shaun Latham: Completely. Nothing else matters. I’m in the zone, doing it, letting it fly. I think if any young artist, if they don’t like cooking yet, they will, they just don’t know it yet. Because it’s the same thing. Whether you paint, draw, music…whatever it is, that drive of art, it goes hand-in-hand with cooking. Like, I have no training. I worked at a lot of restaurants and bars growing up. And I love to eat, and I just decided I really love cooking.
What role does weed play in your life?
Shaun Latham: A pretty decent role. A lot of my comedy is observational based. Weed makes it so like I’m driving, but I’m really in the backseat, you know? I get to observe everything. It’s like the car is on cruise control and I get to sit and look out the windows and kind of collect [thoughts and images]. When I’m stoned, I’m just one beat different to take things in more. It’s important to my creative process, 100 percent. I’m just one of those dudes [who thinks] whatever you do, it’s better on weed.
I don’t like to get stoned right before I go on stage, though. I tried really hard early on [in my career] to be able to smoke weed and go on stage, but I couldn’t do it. It changes the energy and frequency of how I do my shit, so if I’m smoking before a show, I need to give myself a window to chill and then can pick back up after. Otherwise, my energy won’t match my peak ability on stage.
In addition to comedy and cooking, you’re also an amateur boxer?
Shaun Latham: When I moved to Indianapolis, Chris Lytle came out to one of the shows I did with Pat. I’d been a humongous UFC and boxing fan forever. I used to go try and hunt down UFC videos in video stores before the Internet. We’d go video store to video store before we found one. So I’ve always been into it. I meet Chris, who’s obviously a UFC legend, and we end up getting hammered at a bar, drinking, talking shit and hit off. He goes, “Me and the other guys train on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings at 9am. If you ever want to train, learn jujitsu and get in shape a little bit, just come on by. I’d love to help you learn.”
So I started going. I went for a year and a half or so, two or three times a week. I was sparring and doing jujitsu. It wasn’t like a normal class where one guy is telling everybody what to do. You just got in, right. And you just start rolling with them. They’ll say, “Alright, here’s what’s happening to you.” So while he’s choking me a certain way, he’s explaining it. In the middle of that, we would also box, spar. He’d teach me how to fight.
Later on, Barstool bought this company called Rough and Rowdy, which is an amateur boxing match of people who want to fight each other for three one minute rounds. Put ‘em on, winner takes 500 bucks. When Barstool bought it, they said 10,000 dollars to the winner. I had randomly thrown my name in the mix. Then, out of nowhere, Dave just says, “Latham says he’ll do it.” So then my social media blew up with me saying I’m fighting. So I go, well, I guess I’m fighting.
I’d sparred and sparred and sparred, but there’s no comparison to actual fighting. Sparring is definitely necessary, but then you step into a real ring in front of 100 thousand people, that was nowhere near the same. It was an unbelievable difference. So they got me a guy to fight and I just said “fuck it” for the content, for the brand. I fought this kid and lost but a lot of people thought I won. I knocked him down once but they didn’t count it. He knocked me down once. Then we had a split decision and he won. It was a little bit of a mind fuck. I’m not used to fights in front of 100 thousand people on a Pay Per View event. It was actually insanity.
More people know me from that one fight than they do from “20 Dollar Chef” or comedy. Then last year, some kid was talking shit to someone at our office and I didn’t like it. So I offered to fight a troll on Twitter, and that [fight] I won in 15 seconds.
Shaun Latham “The Vigilante Internet Troll Fighter” seems like something people could get behind.
Shaun Latham: If I was younger, I’d want to do it way more. I’m 41. It’s hard to train two to three hours a day. You’re fighting a bunch of big ass dudes. I was at this gym – Mendez Boxing – in New York City. Great trainers there, it was so much fun. It’s like they’ve been doing it for generations there. We had such a good time training but it’s so hard. You have to be so committed. People always talk about fighters, how crazy they are to fight. They’re way crazier just for the training regimen. The fights are probably the easiest part when you look back. The hard part that I think about is all the training. You’ve got guys who train all-year-round who are unbelievable. I’m just glad I got to get a taste.
When I was sparring with those guys in Indianapolis, everybody there, even the dude who “no one knew who he was”…he would treat me like I was a child. You fight these guys who are real guys…like Chris Lyle was toying with me like I was his three year old son. You know? And I was a 38 year old dude. That’s the difference in skill sets. I love talking about [UFC], but I also always want to make sure everyone understands I’m aware of how small of a scale it is to fight amateur compared to the scale of how these real fighters are. What I’m saying is, I know that I am in no way a real fighter. I fought some amateur fights that I put everything into. And it’s not even amateur, more backyard, guys off the street tough-guy shit. That’s really what it was. But I got two cool pictures out of it. They’re probably in my storage unit in Los Angeles.