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Comedian Steven Rogers talks ‘Before He Was Super,’ battling anxiety with laughs

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Comedian Steven Rogers talks ‘Before He Was Super,’ battling anxiety with laughs (Photo by Mindy Tucker)

You may have seen comedian Steven Rogers on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” or as a frequent opening comic for Brian Regan. His debut comedy album “Before He Was Super” just arrived on streaming services, representing (as the title implies) his best material to date. The entire special, filmed live at the National Comedy Center, is streaming free on YouTube.

Rogers’ comedy is clean but unless you’re specifically listening for F-bombs, you might be laughing too hard to notice. During an interview with The Maine Edge, Rogers says he fell in love with comedy while watching stand-up comics on “The Late Show with David Letterman” and he’s spent the last decade forging his self-deprecating comedy style which comes from a very real and, for many in his audience, a very relatable place.

Rogers deals with anxiety and panic attacks, conditions that could be potentially debilitating, but he beats it by making fun of it.

On “Before He Was Super,” Rogers shares stories about dating strong women, growing up in a slightly unusual household with cool parents, lying about being a smoker to avoid socializing at parties and how his male friends become most unhelpful during a panic attack.

The Maine Edge: You’re from Syracuse, New York. When you were growing up, were you the funny kid in your family and at school?

Steve Rogers: Yes in both places but I wasn’t as outspoken about it. If the timing was right, I would just say it, but I was always getting into trouble for it.

TME: You’re up front about the fact that you’re a comic dealing with anxiety and you work it into your show in very funny ways. You’d think the last place to find someone dealing with anxiety would be the stage. How and when did you decide you weren’t going to let it get in the way?

SR: Thankfully, I knew I wanted to be a comedian before I knew I had anxiety. It was about three years before what I found out that what I thought was just who I am as a person was actually a condition (laughs). I said “I’m not going to stop doing this” and let’s find a way to beat the anxiety by making fun of it. I started to write about it and realized that a lot of people related to it and felt safe by knowing the person they were seeing feels the same way.

TME: I heard a podcast where you were a guest describing the ups and downs of trying to get this album out independently two years ago. Has it been a long strange trip to see the release of “Before He Was Super?”

SR: I was going to do it independently in October 2020 but that obviously didn’t work out (due to the pandemic). What was cool was partnering with (label) Blonde Medicine, who turned out to be a fan of the hour that became this album and special. I’m eternally grateful to them.

TME: You’ve done a lot of touring with one of my favorite people, Brian Regan. I bow to his greatness and he’s obviously a fan of yours. What does that mean to you?

SR: You nailed it. The phrase “we’re not worthy” comes to mind when I’m around him. I’m a big fan of comedy, but I was worried that I was more of a fan than I was good at it. Then one of my Mount Rushmore of comedy people saw me and said “Hey, you’re good, let’s work together.” For someone with anxiety, and for someone who’s a self-defeatist, it was enough evidence to keep the imposter syndrome at bay. I didn’t even have this dream, but it came true and it means the world to me. He’s the person I aspire to be onstage and mostly offstage because he is so kind and generous. It’s the right way to be in this business.

TME: You do a podcast called “Panic Attacking” with fellow comedian Andrew Schiavone. Do you hear from a lot of your listeners?

SR: We do and I really love that part of the podcast. Andrew and I get to make light of whatever is making our listeners feel anxious that week. We try to give friendly advice, but we don’t pretend to be professionals. Our listeners tell us it makes them feel like they’re not alone.

TME: Have you brought your comedy to Maine before?

SR: I did a show at Lincoln’s in Portland (on 36 Market St.), and it was one of the best shows I’ve ever had. It made me want to go to Maine as much as possible. Actually, I think I’ve done two different shows there and the audiences were great. I want to get booked again if only for the lobster rolls, (laughs) that blew my mind.

Last modified on Wednesday, 11 May 2022 10:48

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