Torio Van Grol : Comedian You Should Know
The ‘Comedian You Should Know’ series highlights funny people performing in San Francisco. We’d like to give some dedicated press to people who make us laugh in the city. He’ll be at the Punch Line July 21st and 22nd opening for Sam Tripoli.
Torio killed a bunch of people in a basement the other week and we loved it. Torio’s bit comparing the guilt of Uber customers to the guilt of a Nazi sympathizer had everyone talking after the show. I almost hesitate to mention the weekly Mission Position at the Lost Weekend Video Shop because it’s already tough to get a seat there if you show up late.
Torio is a transplant, another white, privileged butthole washing up on the shores of San Francisco, only he’s not here to fix your computer, he’s here to tend bar and make you laugh. And he will. Observant, self-deprecating, funny and nice enough to answer a few of our questions…
When did you arrive in SF?
I moved to San Francisco a little over two years ago. I didn’t know what the gentrification thing was at the time, but I knew I wanted to be apart of it.
What district do you live in and why?
I live in North Beach. Like most people in San Francisco, I live there because that’s where a room opened up that I could kind of afford when I was moving to the city. A friend from college posted that she was looking for a roommate, so I texted her relentlessly until she finally agreed to it. I’m pretty sure she regrets it everyday.
Have you ever bombed? what happened?
I did a show at a bar in Redwood City, where the stage was up against windows looking out to the parking lot. I bombed for like three minutes, before someone pointed out there were two ladies fist fighting in the parking lot behind me. Sometimes when I think I’m getting good at this comedy thing, I remember that I will never be more captivating than two ladies fighting in a parking lot.
Ever have a strange or crazy night in SF? What happened?
The riot, after the Giants won the World Series, was pretty wild. I grew up in San Diego as a Padres and Chargers fan, so I had never witnessed what it’s like to win something. Nothing about that riot made any sense, and that’s why I loved it.
What was your first job in the city?
Lyft driver. Remember when owning a nice car was a sign of wealth? Not in San Francisco. Rich people apparently don’t like the stress of parking, so we get to live that part of life for them. I hope they start not wanting to own other things. Maybe someday I can own a swimming pool and they can all pay me to use it.
Whats is your favorite basement to perform in?
Lost Weekend Video. I don’t know how to describe it other than to say it’s the best place in San Francisco. Whatever happens with my comedy career, I’m pretty sure I’ll look back at the times in that basement as the best of my life.
What’s your 2nd favorite basement to perform in?
Doc’s Lab. It’s just a cool place to be. And the booker, Jeff, really knows what he’s doing. It’s not just about finding a headliner that people recognize from a TV show or movie. They put up some of the most creative comedians in the game.
Do you have a favorite 1 liner?
“If the terrorists hated freedom, then the Netherlands would be fucking dust.” – David Cross
What’s your favorite joke in your set right now?
I have a joke about how if God created humans in his own image like the bible says, shouldn’t that mean God looks like a caveman since the first humans were cavemen? I like it because it’s one of those jokes that can go a lot of different ways, and the audience reaction can really vary. With some jokes, you have a pretty good idea of what’s going to happen, but for this one I can’t just go through the motions. If I don’t work for it, it doesn’t do well, and that’s when I feel like a real comedian. Plus I get to talk/impersonate God as a caveman, which is pretty fun.
Who’s a performer you’re embarrassed to like?
People give me so much shit about my taste in things, that I gave up feeling embarrassed a long time ago. With comedy it’s easy, because if they make you laugh, then you shouldn’t be embarrassed to like them. I don’t even know what kind of music it’s cool to like anymore. Rap? Is rap still cool? Or is it called hip-hop now? I see Dave Matthews Band at least once a year, if that gives you an idea of where I’m at.
Your Top 5 Comedians of all time?
1. David Cross
2. Mike Birbiglia
3. Tom Segura
4. Brendan Lynch
5. Bill Hicks