Interview with John Caparulo

Kelsey Misbrener

Comedian and Kent State graduate John Caparulo went from patching potholes for Kent State parking services to cracking jokes on national television on E!’s, “Chelsea Lately.” He will be performing at Hilarities Comedy Club in Cleveland Oct. 21-24 and took a break from his stand-up tour to answer a few questions about his alma mater.

Kelsey Misbrener: Thanks for agreeing to do this interview.

John Caparulo: Of course, I always wanted to be in the Kent Stater.

KM: You were born in East Liverpool?

JC: Yes, it’s a town that used to have the steel and pottery industry and now they pretty much just have Walmart and nothing else.

KM: Why did you come to Kent State?

JC: I started off going to the University of Akron. I went there for my first year and a half, and it’s just not fun. There’s like bums asking for change on my way to class. My sister was at the Kent State main branch so I transferred to the East Liverpool branch then the main branch.

It’s funny, every time I mention Kent State, kids are always like “Oh, that’s where those kids got shot.” But Akron’s the place where somebody got shot like, yesterday. So I actually went to the less scary school.

KM: So, you were a member of Phi Sigma Pi?

JC: Yeah, I joined the honors fraternity. It was kind of easy to join, and my GPA was pretty high. It’s not hard to keep your GPA high in communications. It wasn’t like I was participating in any sort of independent study or we were figuring out theorems. I just happened to have an easy major.

KM: Did you ever get in any trouble at Kent State?

JC: You know what, no. Nothing major. Just hi-jinks, basically. I worked for parking services. I was one of the guys patching potholes. I worked for the road crew, and they tried to make me a ticket writer for maybe a month. I didn’t write any tickets because I heard about people getting punched and chased. I’d come in and they’d be like, “You don’t have any tickets?” and I’d be like, “Nobody was parked illegally. I didn’t see any violations.”

KM: Why did you leave Kent?

JC: I basically couldn’t afford my rent at Summit Hill apartments. I was doing open mic nights in my hometown and Pittsburgh my last year of school. When I knew this was what I wanted to do, I moved to LA pretty soon after with my best friend from high school. I wanted to move somewhere so that my family and friends couldn’t come see the shows, so I could just do my thing in private and nobody had to watch me suck. My two choices were to move to New York and LA, and I thought I’d rather be broke and warm.

KM: Do you mind performing back home in Ohio nowadays?

JC: I’m okay with it now a lot more than I was 10 years ago. But it’s still more pressure to have people you know see the show. They could tell me Steven Spielberg was in the audience and I’d be like yeah, if I suck, I won’t have to see them again. But if you bomb in front of your aunt, you still have to go have dinner with her. It’s a different kind of pressure.

KM: Do you like California better than Ohio?

JC: It has its pluses and minuses. For what I do, I have to live someplace like LA. I don’t miss (Ohio’s) December. People always say you’ll miss the season changes, but you only miss the good season changes. You miss April, like, “Oh, hey, it’s sunny.” You don’t miss like, “Oh, I wish I could see the leaves falling and the sky get gray.” But you still miss the simplicity of living someplace like Kent. Going to school at Kent State is a nice little bubble that you get to live in for four years or five years, or however long you want. You miss that lifestyle no matter where you go.

KM: I have to ask, what’s it like working with Chelsea Handler?

JC: It’s the most fun I’ve had in show business. I love doing that show. I know nothing about celebrity gossip nor do I really care, but the fun about that show is they just let me take it where I want to take it when it’s my time to talk. It’s just so fun to do. I wish I did it every day.

KM: Do you think you’ll perform at Kent State again like you did at the Rathskeller last year?

JC: Yeah, actually we were trying to schedule something for this tour, but there was something else going on at the Rathskeller. But yes, I definitely want to and I definitely will.

You can contact Kelsey Misbrener at [email protected].