Everyone who knows Shaun Latham from the always controversial Barstool Sports site-blog and his ‘$20 Chef” segments knows he talks fast and carries a mean wallop with every criticism and witticism. Yet, when this writer chatted with Latham in anticipation of his Helium Comedy Club gig on October 17, he was also moving fast, as he was packing hurriedly to move to New York City.
$20 Chef Shaun Latham brings his stand-up to Philly
“I’ve been working for Barstool Heartland under Pat McAfee for a little over a year in Indianapolis, he quit, and they offered me a ton of money to stay, but only if I moved to New York, so I’m going,” said Latham in one breath, while packing. With that, Latham’s “$20 Chef” bit – a YouTube and Facebook sensation where he cooks to impress the ladies, but on a budget – is now, somehow, legitimized. His advice tips such as “buy an Emeril towel,” and “cut that s%$t fast” Have already made him a favorite of cost-conscious dudes and budget focused bros.
“I’ve done like 70-something shows, and between that, and doing radio, it’s all coming together – we’re going to step up a level,” he said, proud of the fact that ‘$20 Chef’ works despite his not being a real chef. “I shove that fact down everyone’s throat. I’m a comedian way before and beyond being a chef. But, when Pat and I began to discuss the chef show, he wanted to send me to culinary school. I wanted that idea to work so bad, I got off the road, and began hanging with line cooks at a steakhouse we loved, and didn’t get paid – I just learned all I could about cooking, the basics, so that I could be as real as possible. I wanted to be accepted as a chef, just as I do the comedy industry.” Latham’s $20 Chef works because, in his estimate, 90% of the people watching are also not chefs. “If I can do it, you 100% can do it,” he said.
Being accepted by the industry means something to Latham, especially as he has been doing stand-up for so long before the $20 Chef thing. Before heading to Indianapolis, Latham did the LA comedy scene run with his own gigs as well as a tour with his pal and comic mentor Gabriel Iglesias. The scene at the Improv where he started had Latham running into the likes of Mitch Hedberg, Daniel Tosh, Robert Schimmel, and his hero, Rodney Dangerfield. “I wish I could write like Dangerfield, man.”
As he does with cheffing, Latham is used to making his comedy thoroughly improvisational, and without a net – to say nothing of being without a script or penned jokes or stories. “Overall, it ’s just me talking s%#t and making up stuff,” Latham said with a snicker. “Some of the audience – just like the Barstool people – get it, some of them don’t. That’s fine. It’s like Gabriel used to tell me, ‘if they all like you all the time, you’re doing something wrong.’ PLUS, my favorite thing is the clap back. I love to s%^t talk, and I’m really good at it. These little goofballs, on stage and online, I can give as much as I get. That’s why my routines work. I’m doing something that is 100% myself. If I f%^k up a chicken dish, so be it I’m a comic, not Anthony Bourdain.”
As a chef, he’s not a fan of “little baby plates filled with carrots or stuff”– he’s not about the art, but, rather the fill of food. As a hip-hop aficionado – another passion of his – Latham is a big fan of the new Post Malone and Lil Wayne but isn’t a fan of many new rappers. “I’m old school all the way,” said the comedian. “DMX, Dr. Dre, Tupac. The Nineties guys. I’m actually working on a joke about loving both Nineties hip-hop and Nineties country where I don’t know whether to hold the door for a woman or call her a ho. That’s Nineties, right?”