Comedian, writer, and filmmaker Niles Abston has a lot on his mind.
He most recently made a short film, Notice To Quit, he's returning to the Pacific Northwest to work on material for his second stand-up comedy special, and he recently began writing for the hit FX show Dave.
It won't be Abston's first time in Seattle—he did a show here last November—though he'll play at a different venue this go-around. I spoke with the comedian a few weeks before his newest PNW trip about what we can expect, how much he liked Everything Everywhere All At Once, and the state of the stoner comedy.
We edited this interview for length and clarity.
HUTCHINSON: It's been a while since we last spoke, how are you doing?
ABSTON: Man, I'm doing good. It's good to hear from you, how are you?
Good, where am I reaching you? I know you're on the road all over these days.
We're on the way to Prescott, Arizona, so we're in some traffic because we got to go through where Coachella is.
I remember last time you came through the area you went from Portland to Seattle and now you're going from Seattle to Portland. Are you excited to come back?
Yeah, I'm so excited because I'm taping my next special in July, so I picked places that aren't on my tour to do a one-night-only thing and get a little warm-up, so that I can practice some stuff. I'm really excited about it.
I wanted to ask because I was at your Seattle show last time, and it was great—though the audience had a weird vibe. How did that leave you feeling now for this time?
Yeah, it was weird. I don't think we really knew, like the people that booked me for it, I don't think they really knew what kind of venue it was for comedy. The staff there were also kind of weird to me and my people from the get-go. It was just a weird vibe. Thankfully, we're at a different spot this time. We're gonna be at The Jewelbox Theater for two shows, so I'm excited to do it at a different place because I do love Seattle and I want to make sure it's a great show.
What are you hoping to tackle when it comes to this new material for the next special?
It's very much the thoughts from somebody that was locked up for a year [laughs]. I really needed to get them out so this next special is just all the things I wanted to say on the internet but didn't have the space to say them while I was locked in the house and watching everybody in Atlanta partying and having a good time.
The last time we talked, I had asked you about touring during a pandemic and I had hoped by this next time that wouldn't be something you had to worry about. Has it been challenging navigating the pandemic and still getting out there?
Yeah, it is one of those things where you book a show and you just hope that everything will be fine. I remember when the omicron variant hit, all the shows got canceled. Luckily Basement Fest, my festival I ran in New York, was a month after all of that so things had kind of died down. But if I had done that festival a month earlier, it wouldn't have happened.
Are you planning to show your short film before everything in Seattle?
That is the plan. Hopefully, that'll happen. It's on the internet, but I feel like everybody hasn't seen it and I think movies are best watched with a group on a big screen.
I saw that short and there was a lot of your comedic voice in it while still being its own thing that gets darker. What motivated you to take on this challenge? Any inspirations you were drawing from?
I've never really written short films, but somebody reached out about a film grant they could submit me for after they saw my comedy special. My roommate is a comedian, Johnny Mac, and a really good writer. I told him 'hey, we're about to get some money, let's come up with a short film idea.' We just started talking it out and we both hated our landlord at the time. We were both just like 'man, how do we make a landlord a villain?' We just started going through ideas for that. We were very inspired by movies like Pineapple Express, The Big Lebowski, Friday., and Next Day Air. All four of those are stoner comedies that do get dark with violence and people die and all that kind of stuff. It was something that we took that vibe and put it into our own story. We made the stoner movie we wanted to make.
There aren't a lot of stoner comedies that come out anymore.
Nope. It's definitely something they try to shy away from, which I don't really understand. If it's done well, it'll do well. If anything, weed is even more popular. We don’t really have any Half Baked and How High type movies. I'm actually writing an article about it for Vulture, but comedy has gone away from silly. We don't get too much silly stuff anymore.
What's your favorite stoner comedy?
Friday. It's stupid, it's quotable, the characters are great, and it has a funny little lesson at the end. That movie is literally like being a stoner. You smoke weed all day and then something crazy happens.
Do you think you would ever get the chance to work with Chris Tucker or Ice Cube if they did another Friday?
[Laughs] No, I doubt it but that would be fun though. I think Chris Tucker doesn't do movies where he has to cuss or smoke weed anymore.
I think Jesus or something, I don't know.
Speaking of other movies, I remember the last time we talked you said how much you loved Shiva Baby.
It's so good!
Have you had a movie as good as Shiva Baby for this year?
Oh, Everything Everywhere All At Once is really dope. I really liked it a lot. I haven't seen too many movies in 2022 just because I've been really busy, but I got out to see that.
Speaking of being busy, how do you find time to sleep with everything you got going on?
I take naps during the day. That's the other thing, I sleep late. I get started at like noon to one. I'm not going to be able to do that anymore because I just got hired to write for my first TV show that I start next week. But that was the plan originally, I just don't wake up till twelve.
You just got hired to write for a TV show?
Can you tell us which show?
I'm writing for Dave, the Lil Dicky show, season three.
Congratulations! Well, I wish you the best of luck with that and the upcoming shows.
Yeah, I appreciate that because if there is one thing I want people to get from this article is just like please come out to these shows because I'm really trying to put this new special together. Everybody is a part of the experience and so I appreciate you taking the time.
You can see Niles Abston live at The Jewelbox Theater at The Rendezvous in Seattle Thursday, May 19, and The Siren Theater in Portland on Friday, May 20.