Andy Milonakis, Comedian
Andy Milonakis jumped into public consciousness after making some freestyle rap videos on the web, which led to him appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live, and then getting his own MTV program. Andy's come full circle and is currently at work on a full length rap album, but despite all he's accomplished so far he remains hard on himself for not doing more. Milonakis finds inspiration in his roommate, a newcomer to the industry who managed to make his very own film using only his wits and initiative, which stands in sharp contrast with the desperate amateurs that ask Andy to help pitch their pilots or read their scripts. In this LAist Q and A, Andy discusses the phoniness he despises, his return to online shorts with My Damn Channel, and his plans for touring the country by bus.
How long have you been living in LA now?
I have no idea. Either one year or six years.
I thought you were living in New York the whole time you were doing the MTV stuff.
No, actually I've been here for about five years. I moved to LA to work on Jimmy Kimmel live. About a year after that we pitched my show and it got picked up, and then I went back to New York to do that.
How do you feel about New York compared to LA?
Overall, I think New York is much more fun, because of the million things to do all the time, never closes. Real people who don't have one-track minds. It's not like the whole fucking place is a popularity contest. When I go to these douchey clubs-- because I do go to the douchey clubs sometimes, I'm not going to try-- it's really like a fucking middle school, it's so immature how much of a popularity contest it is.
If you're in Hollywood in the mix of hot nights out-- I was thinking about how fake girls were. I made a point in a douchey club to look around and listen to girls talk and see if I could find one real person that's not completely wack. And I'm not even basing it on looks. They could be good looking, they could not be good looking, they could be average. And after scooping out the whole place, every single girl in the place seemed like a complete fake moron.
What sort of stuff were they talking about that gave them away?
This girl came up to me and started to talk to me, but acted like I was lucky to talk to her. And I'm like, "You're the one fucking coming up to me, don't act all arrogant." Because she came up to me and started to talk to me and started judging people and pointing out people, like, "Ugh. How can she wear that? What is that? Is that even a dress?" And I'm looking at her, and flat out was like, "Are you out of your mind? Are you here to talk about people and how they look? You sound so retarded." And she didn't like that at all, because I don't think a lot of people call that out. They just drink Grey Goose and talk about how wonderful they are and hot they are.
Is calling people out on their phoneyness something you'd like to do?
I love to do it. The only reason why I don't like to do it is that it's kind of stating the obvious a little too much, but there's no way I can survive without calling people out on their complete bullshit. It's like my way of venting. And I vent to people, too. When people are wack, I don't always look for confrontation and start shit, but at the same time, if they do something that really rubs me the wrong way, I'm going to call them out for their bullshit, because I don't care about people like that, and I don't care what they think about me. So I'm just going to be bold enough to tell them that they're fucking wack.
When you go out to a club, how often do you get recognized?
There's no way I'm answering this question without seeming like a douchebag. I don't know, a good amount I guess. It's much different in different places. In LA, a few people come up to me here and there. In some clubs I get left alone. Put it this way: in LA, I get bothered by people who have fake projects and are just trying to pitch something. In any other state, I get people who just want to talk to me and maybe get a picture or something, and just kind of be, "Okay, I'm meeting this guy," not, "I have this scheme to involve him in something."
What sort of things have people tried to get you involved in?
These are really beginner people, I can tell. It's people trying to do their first thing and attach my name to something and being like, "Oh yeah, it'll be great, you can just do this thing, it'll be awesome, we'll attach your name tomorrow. We just got this pilot, nobody knows about it yet, but we'll put your name on it, and we'll bring it to people." This one guy came to me and was like, "So, we're going to pitch a show together next week. This is what the show is. I'm amazing and I'm the ladies' man, and I'm some cool guy and I go up to girls, and you're going to come pitch it with me."
Do you also have waiters come up to you and say, "Hey, Andy, can you take a look at my screenplay?"
Waiters, that only happened to me twice. This trendy place called Coy in LA, the guy was nice, so I'm not going to call him out for being a dick or anything, but we had a big dinner, and it was just uncomfortable at the end of the dinner. He's like, "I got this screenplay, I really want you to read it," blah blah blah. He didn't hand it to me there, but he uncomfortably asked me for my email address and contact info, and it's just not the right way of doing things. I don't know why people are so naive and why they don't realize that you're putting people in awkward positions, and all you have to do is try to do it the real way and go through managers and agents.
People are desperate. It's really, really desperate, because it's such a hard industry to break into. I kind of relate it to people who are not well off or maybe homeless. When people are homeless, they will try to manipulate you into giving them money. I feel like that's what the industry is like for all these beginner people. I think it's important to grind it out and bust your ass, and I would never fault anyone for thinking differently to get something made, that should be applauded, but when you put people in an uncomfortable position, it's pretty wack.
Having been in the entertainment industry for a while now, has what you want out of a career changed in any way?
I want to get some meatier roles in movies, and I want to continue to do feature films. I also really want to write my own screenplay. And I think I'm an idiot, because I lack motivation sometimes. A lot of good things happen to me thanks to Jimmy Kimmel, but I think I need to learn to be self-motivated more when I have downtime, because there's no reason why I couldn't have written like four scripts by now. I work, and I live comfortably, so I take advantage of that a little too much, and on my downtime, I don't really bust my ass as much as I should be. I want to get better at that and motivate myself. My roommate is still kind of like a beginner in this business, and he wrote his own screenplay, he got funding for his own movie, just going in, branding it out, making contacts, and he got about a hundred thousand dollars, and he made this movie called 2 Dudes & a Dream. I did a cameo in it. And I see that, someone who doesn't have the resources that I do, and he still did it. It's kind of like me slapping him in the face for me not taking advantage of my resources. If he can do it, I can do it. It's kind of inspiring.
Do you find that you were more motivated before you had all this success?
I was motivated in a different way. The motivation wasn't for business at all, so that's why it was a little bit better. I would make tons and tons of videos, because it was the most fun thing for me to do. Even when I posted a video and I got like six replies, that was just so fun. It was such a new time five or six years ago, when people didn't put a lot of videos of themselves up. People still had dial-up modems, even. I had to figure out how to convert video for streaming on the Internet or downloading on the Internet. Now it's a little bit more like, "Okay, I'm doing this because I love it, but there's also the business aspect of it." And I hate the business aspect of it. It does take away the creativity a little bit. I feel like it's a little bit forced.
But when you're working with a company like My Damn Channel, you have a lot of freedom I imagine.
Yeah, that's a little bit different, because it's kind of like I get to go back to the old ways of doing videos. They're really open to see anything. They're not being strict with me, like, "We need this, we need that, we need this." They're giving me the ball and letting me run with it, "Okay, I'm putting this stupid video out, it's more weird than it is funny," but they're not coming back with, "I don't know how this is going to be received," they're just letting me go for it. Not to mention some of the stuff that I normally couldn't do on my own. They give me budgets for certain things. I'm doing a music video for one of my rap songs, and they're going to give me a budget to create it.
Is My Damn Channel sort of the perfect working environment for yourself?
Yeah. It is. I still have motivation issues, though. Right now I'm doing them week to week. I'm doing a sequel to the movie Waiting next week, and I'm doing that for a couple weeks, and I'm working on my rap album, but as soon as I free up some time, I'm going to knock a whole bunch out. I want to get ten of them loaded so they can kind of rotate every week without me rushing to like, "Oh shit, I've got to come up with something on the spot."
When it comes to making the rap album, is this your dream project?
It wasn't until now. When I started doing rap freestyle on the Internet, it was one hundred percent because I knew it was terrible and it would be funny to watch. Then I started freestyling, and I kept doing it and doing it, and I got better and better, and I don't look at myself as the greatest rapper or anything, but I feel like I'm good enough to do it in a real song now, and I have a lot of good people behind me that produce real hip-hop beats, and they work with real artists every day. So it's awesome that they're into it, and we can create a CD that's not going to be a gimmicky comedy CD, and it's not going to be like, Stupid as hell lyrics, but real beats, and try to make it sound as good as possible."
When it comes with hip-hop production, what are some producers you like?
Some of the guys I'm working with that I like are Justin Trugman, Jamie Ride, and Stu Stone. And some of the people that I grew up listening to, I'm a huge fan of Dr. Dre, and RZA is one of my favorites. Wu-Tang overall is probably my favorite group of all time.
Growing up in New York, do you have any memories of, say, going out to the city and seeing some hip-hop group perform before they even got big?
I saw Bone Thugs kind of early on. And one of the ones I remember, it wasn't like before he got big, but it was a very memorable one. I got to stand on stage while KRS-One was performing. It was really cool.
Since you used to perform at the UCB Theater, do you have any aspirations to do a little stage show at the UCB LA?
Yeah, eventually I want to do that. Actually I was at the UCB LA last night. It's not on the top of my priority list right now, because I did UCB for a few years in New York. Eventually I would like to do another live show, but right now my priorities are, once I finish Waiting, to finish the rap album, and I want to get a sponsor for a tour bus and do like forty days all across the United States. There's nothing that could top that as far as what I want to do right now, just getting on a dope tour bus and going all over the place and doing retarded rap songs for college kids. I think that would be really fun.