"My life philosophy is pretty straightforward,” says Adam Carolla. “Grit is better than I.Q., intestinal fortitude is better than any degree, and always blame yourself.”
Given the success that the 49-year-old Carolla has enjoyed in radio, television and film, there might be something to his pearls of wisdom.
A child of divorced parents who came of age in North Hollywood, Carolla spent his 20s working as a carpet cleaner, a custom-closet installer, an earthquake rehab contractor and a boxing trainer. It was that last gig that led Carolla to Jimmy Kimmel, then known as “Jimmy the Sports Guy” on L.A. radio station at KROQ. Carolla coached Kimmel for a boxing match in 1994 and the two became fast friends.
Carolla soon rose to notoriety on “Loveline,” a raunchy sex advice show he co-hosted with the straitlaced Dr. Drew Pinsky. Over 10 years, the odd couple answered questions about everything from genital herpes to “I want to be with a man and a woman and a donkey at the same time — and what’s so wrong with that?” as Carolla recounts with a chuckle. The show also featured celebrity interviews and appearances by bands like No Doubt.
Carolla went on to create “The Man Show” with Kimmel for Comedy Central, write two New York Times bestsellers (“In Fifty Years We’ll All Be Chicks” and “Not Taco Bell Material”), and launch a line of ready-to-drink cocktails called Mangria. His current podcast “The Adam Carolla Show” — for which he’ll tape two live installments Friday at the Varsity Theater — set a Guinness World Record for the most downloaded podcast ever.
In the process, Carolla has amassed a loyal fan base, which he rallied this summer to raise more than $1.4 million for his forthcoming directorial debut, “Road Hard.”
“I spent over a decade doing mindless donkey work. Now I’m overcompensating and trying to make up for all that lost time,” Carolla says of his unrelenting ambition.
Considering Carolla’s impressive media empire, could there be anything left on his bucket list?
“I’d like to start a bucket company — no, a line of signature, high-end buckets,” he answers, deadpan. “Beautiful oak buckets with beautiful rope handles.” It doesn’t seem that far out of the realm of possibility — the man once taught himself to ride a unicycle, after all.
Carolla offers this advice to college-age fans who are newly entering the workforce: Use setbacks as learning experiences and be realistic about your abilities. Just because you have your heart set on a certain profession doesn’t mean you’re qualified to do it.
“There’s a lot of people who are untalented hacks,” Carolla says regarding those aspiring to work in showbiz. “They want to produce, they want to direct, they want to write. Well, you know what? They’re not any good. And thus, they’re going to have a very hard time making a living because they suck.”
While Carolla uses his no-holds-barred humor to address polarizing topics like affirmative action, police presence and gay marriage, he makes it clear that he doesn’t see his comedy as a vehicle for social change.
“I don’t really break it down along those lines,” he says. “I don’t even think ‘What’s funny?’ ‘What’s not funny?’ I just think about ‘What do I want to do? What do I want to convey?’ and I do it.”
And even though most of Carolla’s podcast episodes skew pessimistic and focus on his pet peeves, the married father of twins doesn’t really hate everything on Earth.
“The focus on the stuff that drives you nuts is comedy,” Carolla says. “As long as we got iTunes, iPhones and professional football, I’ll be happy.”
Adam Carolla Podcast
When: 7:30 & 10:30 p.m. Fri.
Where: Varsity Theater, 1308 SE. 4th St., Mpls.
Tickets: $40.50-$50.50. 7:30 p.m. show is sold out. www.ticketfly.com.
Mangria bottle signing: 6 p.m. Fri. at Surdyk’s, 303 E. Hennepin Av., Mpls.