For comedian Ian Bagg, who originally hails from British Columbia, receiving a royalty check isn't as glamorous as it sounds. Often in the $1.16 range, those checks are usually for much less than the cost of gas it takes to get to the bank to cash them. But those tiny little checks are also big reminders of a few small, somewhat embarrassing film and TV commercial roles he's landed. They include—but are not limited to—"Fat Man" in the made-for-television film Double, Double, Toil and Trouble starring Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, and "Disgruntled Worker #4" in the 1999 Tim Robbins-directed The Cradle Will Rock. He's also currently starring as himself in an Internet-only vehicle called Hollywood Burn. Bagg and cohost Karla Cavalli satirize the likes of Entertainment Tonight using clips from actual celebrity interviews to poke fun at the rich and famous. It's a cross between People magazine and the Enquirer on the Internet. But no matter how much face time Bagg gets on the big, little or PC screen, he says that for him, stand-up is where it's at.
Bagg, who when asked his age says, "I'm between 30 and 38," spends most of his time on the road. When BW caught up with him over the phone, he was a bit subdued at the tail end of a nine-show weekend in Miami. "Last week I was ... uh ... I'm trying to remember. It all becomes a blur," he said. "Oh, last week I was in Las Vegas, the week before that I was in D.C., and the week before that I was in New York. I'm working constantly. Constantly."
Bagg moved to New York in 1995 and then Los Angeles—which he now calls home—in 2000. He said the move to Los Angeles was prompted by his work. "I was doing a lot of commercials," he said. "I did Domino's, Mrs. Butterworth, Buy.com, anything and everything."
Living in Los Angeles seems the perfect choice in order to pursue a career in film and/or TV, and Bagg agrees ... to a point. "Sure, a television show helps comedians," he said. "More people come out to see you perform." But it seems that many of the comedians who move into television and movies no longer do much stand-up. "That would not suit me," Bagg said. He said he wouldn't turn down a TV show, "but honestly, my love is stand-up. That's where I want to be. I want to be doing stand-up." And he wants to be spreading the funny all across America.
When asked where his favorite place is to perform, Bagg said there's nowhere he really doesn't like to perform, but there are a few places he's especially fond of. "I'm really attached to Chicago, New York and Miami. I love to play the Palms in Vegas, and I really do love Boise," he said. "I have a great history with Boise. It's one of the first places I played in America on the road. I dated a girl from there for a while so I've spent a lot of time in Boise."
For over 15 years, Ian Bagg has been slouching in front of audiences all across the United States, offering at least 80 percent of them a side-splitting good time. Though his routine seems almost entirely improvisational, Bagg says it's really only about half improv and half material he's written. The half that is improv, with Bagg playing off members of the audience, makes each show seem fresh. "I'll see the same people two or three times [during a stay]," he said. "I have so much material, I can bring it in and out, and it makes the show seem much more off the cuff."
"The style [of comedy] I do freaks some people out," Bagg said. "It's punch, punch, punch. I keep moving and having fun all the time. I remember somebody once telling me I wasn't professional because I was having too much fun. Comedy scares people. It's awesome."
Bagg will perform Wed., Nov. 28 through Sun., Dec. 2. Shows are Wed., Thurs. and Sun., 8 p.m., $10; Fri. and Sat., 8 and 10:15 p.m., $12 and $15. The Funny Bone, 405 S. Eighth St., 208-331-2663, BoiseFunnyBone.com.