An Evening With Adam

Adam Carolla will step out of the studio and onto the stage at the Rialto Theatre on Friday.

From The Man Show to Loveline, Carolla has been slinging comedy since the 1990s. Now known for his record-breaking podcast, The Adam Carolla Show, Carolla will be leaving his podcast partners-in-crime, Alison Rosen and Bald Bryan, at home in favor of an eclectic evening of solo comedy.

"It's a combination, sort of: one-man show meets standup, meets improvisation, meets PowerPoint presentation," Carolla said in an interview. "It's pretty unique. It's not just standup; it's kind of 'an evening with.'"

Though he has performed in the greater Phoenix area many times, this will be Carolla's first gig in the Old Pueblo. During the interview, he inquired about the rivalry between Phoenix and Tucson and proposed a solution of his own.

"It's an arbitrary line drawn in the desert that separates Tucson from Phoenix—that's why you should get along," Carolla said, "Start hating on Montana. Find some place different than you, and start channeling your ire toward those places."

Carolla has proved himself to be a comedic jester-of-all-trades. After his eponymous show was booted by CBS Radio in 2009, he took his act to the airwaves independently via the podcast.

Guinness World Records dubbed the dispatch the most-downloaded podcast in the world in 2011. At that point, it had been downloaded more than 59 million times.

Carolla has also made reality TV appearances on Dancing With the Stars and The Celebrity Apprentice with Donald Trump.

The road to recognition started out in a one-bedroom apartment Carolla shared with three other men after he moved out of his parents' house. His work résumé includes stints as a construction worker and ditch-digger. Once he acquired his own set of tools, he became a carpenter for hire.

"It became pretty apparent, pretty quickly, that it sucked—that it was really hard work, and it didn't pay much, and it didn't have any perks or benefits whatsoever," Carolla said. "I decided comedy would be a much better life—harder to pull off, but if I did pull it off, it would be a much better lifestyle."

So he traded a life of under-the-table payments and IRS debt for comedy. However, his new career started out with a series of what he calls "open-mic disasters."

"I just kept stinking, and eventually I went from stinking to not stinking. It was a slow process," Carolla said.

He didn't direct his comedy focus into any one area, rotating between sketches, standup and, at one point, something he calls "comedy traffic school." He broke into the radio biz after becoming Jimmy Kimmel's boxing instructor during Kimmel's radio career. He later took off the gloves and put on headphones as part of the Kevin and Bean radio show. His voice has rarely been absent from the airwaves since.

After nearly two decades in comedy, Carolla said that his style and perspective have remained the same, although he's become more polished.

"I have hopefully gotten better—evolved—sort of like a musician who gets better at his craft, but not necessarily picks up another instrument or plays another type of music," Carolla said.

The key to comedy greatness, according to Carolla, is repetition and practice. In addition to his daily podcast, he does live podcasts and standup shows almost every weekend.

"It doesn't give you a lot of chance for the rust or for the barnacles to settle in on you, "Carolla said.

Carolla's most-recent book, Not Taco Bell Material, came out in June. In it, Carolla jokes about the 16 homes he has lived in since he was born. He said a few of those stories will probably make their way into his Tucson routine.

Carolla described the experience of performing onstage as similar to a band choosing songs from a set list.

"I always end with a 'Stairway to Heaven,'" he said, before confessing: "I don't even know what that means."