116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Much has changed in the world of comedy. A generation ago, comics followed a certain path — one with cable television specials and films that led to big halls and stardom.
That was the route Andrew “Dice” Clay followed to arenas. It was the same story for Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock.
However, the landscape is different today. Tom Segura, who will perform Tuesday at the McGrath Amphitheatre in Cedar Rapids, blew up over recent years courtesy of his Netflix specials and podcasts.
Segura's podcast network, YMH Studios, is home to a variety of shows, including “Your Mom’s House,” co-hosted by his wife and fellow comic, Christina Pazsitzky; “2 Bears, 1 Cave,” co-hosted by comic Bert Kreischer; and Segura’s own interview show, “Tom Talks.”
His appearances on such podcasts as “The Joe Rogan Experience” and his specials, 2014’s “Completely Normal,” 2016’s “Mostly Stories,” 2018’s “Disgraceful” and 2020’s “Ball Hog,” have enabled the humorist to play and often sell out big halls.
“Podcasts have changed the game for so many comics,” Segura said. “The great thing is that I love doing them and they’ve had such an impact.”
If podcasts, specials and sold-out concert halls aren’t enough, Segura is tackling another medium. The one-man cottage industry is now an author. “I’d Like to Play Alone, Please,” which hit shelves in May, features essays ranging from his childhood to his life as a celebrity.
That he chose to write a collection of stories isn't surprising, since Segura primarily is a yarn spinner when he hits the stage.
“I do like telling stories,” he said. “Earlier in my career I told jokes, like short jokes. I liked doing the short setups and joked, but I evolved into this storyteller.”
The anecdotes throughout his book are charming, unpredictable and humorous. Segura is a wordsmith on and offstage.
Give the bilingual Segura credit for being smart enough for trying to connect with another audience. Segura does some shows in Spanish and one of his podcasts is titled “Tom Segura en Espanol.”
“It’s never a bad idea to reach a new audience,” he said. “It’s something we all would like to have. I enjoy connecting with everybody.”
Playing to an eclectic audience is the way it used to be a generation or two ago. The late comic David Brenner was proud that his fan base was so diverse. It’s common to find contemporary comics who perform to one demographic.
“I don't get why anyone would settle for that,” Segura said.
And Segura will continue to make Netflix specials.
“Netflix has rapidly changed the way comedy is consumed around the world,” he said.
It’ll be fascinating to see what Segura does next, since he’s never complacent and he’s always working the internet.
That’s how Dane Cook became a massive sensation 20 years ago. The Boston comic-actor kept throwing it out there like Segura. The same can be said for Adam Sandler.
“The reason Adam became such a success is because he’s always throwing stuff up against the wall,” comic-actor David Spade said. “That’s something young comics need to know. You have to work your butt off if you want to be successful.”
Segura, who is at his best when riffing about children, travel and porn, is refreshingly relentless. He has a part in the 2018 film “Instant Family,” which stars Mark Wahlberg. So perhaps there will be more of Segura on the big screen.
“I’m just doing everything I’m interested in to the best of my ability,” Segura said. “And I’m having a great time doing it.”
Segura’s appeal is that he is as cerebral and surprising as the controversial Louis C.K., but he doesn't demonize his family like the cranky wiseguy. Segura also moves on to new material with each special and tour.
Who knows what Segura will deliver next?