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Ray Routhier

Portland Press Herald staff writer Ray Routhier will try anything. Once. During 20 years at the Press Herald he’s been equally attracted to stories that are unusually quirky and seemingly mundane. He’s taken rides on garbage trucks, sought out the mother of two rock stars, dug clams, raked blueberries, and spent time with the family of bedridden man who finds strength in music. Nothing too dangerous mind you, just adventurous enough to find the stories of real Mainers doing real cool things.

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Posted: April 22, 2019

‘Stupid Questions’ comic Chris Distefano brings his act to Empire

Written by: Ray Routhier

New York-based comic Chris Distefano, host of “Stupid Questions” on Comedy Central, will be Empire in Portland on Sunday.
Photo courtesy Loshak PR

Comic Chris Distefano has never been to Portland, so his first question about the city was: Does it have a lot of hipsters? Being a lifelong resident of Brooklyn, he has some definite opinions of hipsters.

“You see these people trying to decrease their carbon footprint by struggling with a paper straw. Either use a plastic one or just don’t use one. I want to help the environment too, but that’s just stupid,” said Distefano, 34. “And sometimes I just want to shout (at hipsters) ‘You’re a grown man, get off the scooter.’ ”

Distefano, who hosts “Stupid Questions with Chris Distefano” on Comedy Central and had his own stand-up special on the network in January, will bring his act to Empire in Portland on Sunday. He’s also appeared on late night shows like “Late Night with Seth Meyers.”

Distefano worked as a physical therapist and didn’t start focusing on comedy as a career until he was in his mid-20s. He says everything in his routine is based on somebody he knows or something that happened in his life. Sometimes he has to embellish those stories a lot. Sometimes not so much.

Like jokes about his family members being in the New York mob. His father was in jail when he was a child, Distefano said, and he never really knew what he did for a living.

He has a bit in his routine about his grandfather, who fought in World War II, showing up at battles and acting more like a gangster than a soldier.

“He’d show up 20 minutes late to the battle and say, ‘What do you need me to do? Who needs to go bye bye?’ ” says Distefano in the bit, adding that his grandfather would tell commanders he’d “make the whole thing look like an accident” then try to put the bodies in the trunk of a tank.

He also talks in his act about his 3-year-old daughter, who is half Puerto Rican and half Italian.

“Very emotional, she’s always angry but she loves everything, too,” Distefano said.

On “Stupid Questions” Distefano interviews celebrities in a bar or restaurant, talking about the kinds of things you might imagine middle school kids talk about. In a recent episode featuring actor Justin Long, Distefano began by talking about whether it’s OK to want to eat cupcakes when you’re out with your macho guy friends.

“You know, the other guys are like, ‘Let’s get some beer, some strippers,’ and I’m like ‘What about some cupcakes?’ ” Distefano said.

Distefano went on to pose a series of stupid questions to Long, including whether he’d rather be able to only speak in a whisper or only shout, and whether he’d prefer to wear khaki pants or docksider shoes. The caveat on that last question was Long could wear nothing else.

Distefano is also co-host of a podcast called “History Hyenas,” where he and comedian Yannis Pappas talk about history and nature, but with a comedian’s perspective. In one episode, they discuss Queen Elizabeth I of England and the supposition that she was really a man posing as a woman. Then the discussion turned to whether marrying Elizabeth, if she were really a man, would be worth it to any man who wanted to be King.

“We’re talking about significant things, but from our point of view,” Distefano said.

CHRIS DISTEFANO

WHEN: 8 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Empire, 575 Congress St., Portland
HOW MUCH: $20; ages 21-plus
INFO: portlandempire.com

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