Insults have come out of Tony Hinchcliffe’s mouth ever since he was an elementary school student, to the point where teachers were concerned about Hinchcliffe’s future, he recalls.
“They told my mom they were worried about me keeping a job due to my mouth,” Hinchcliffe said in an interview with The News & Observer, while calling from his Los Angeles home.
However, Hinchcliffe, 34, who will perform this weekend at Goodnight’s, has had the last laugh. The clever wordsmith has become a successful insult comic.
Hinchcliffe, who writes for Comedy Central’s Roast series, has skewered celebrities, ranging from hip-hop icon Snoop Dogg to President Trump. Here are his takes on his particular brand of comedy.
1. Hinchliffe paid dearly after delivering his first insult when he was 7 years old.
“When I was in first grade on my very first day I was riding the bus to school in my hometown of Youngstown, Ohio,” he said. “I saw that a kid’s grandma took him to the bus stop, and I insulted him. I called him a dork for having his grandma take him to the bus stop. He punched me in the mouth. I still remember rinsing the blood out of my mouth at the water fountain in school. The funny thing is that we became good friends, and whenever I perform in Cleveland, he comes out to see me.”
2. Martha Stewart is the celebrity who surprised him the most during a celebrity roast.
“I was shocked by Martha Stewart and how she executed during the Justin Bieber roast. The celebrities usually don’t go all out with what I write for them. They’ll cut things out, but not Martha. She went for the jugular.
“My favorite things she said to Bieber and (rapper) Ludacris are a bit much for a newspaper. She went for it. Martha is hilarious and she has guts.”
3. He aspires to be like roastmaster Jeffrey Ross.
“Jeffrey Ross is the anchor of it all. There’s a reason he’s known as the ‘roastmaster general.’ He has a thematic presentation. When he shows up, it’s like going to a UFC fight and Michael Buffer or Joe Rogan is there. When I see Jeffrey, it’s like, ‘It’s going down tonight.’”
4. Don Rickles is his hero.
“Rickles is the OG master. I remember watching him when I was a little kid when Johnny Carson was still on the air. I loved his rapid-fire delivery and how he made fun of everyone. He was an imaginative beast.”
5. Rickles also is a father figure.
Hinchcliffe grew up without a father and sometimes wishes Rickles was his dad.
“That would have made me stronger. I needed a tough dad. I grew up with a poor single mom in a very bad neighborhood. I was scared my entire childhood. I grew up uncomfortable. I didn’t know what would happen. If Don Rickles was there, I would have been all right. My house got broken into a number of times. My VCR and Nintendos were stolen.”
6. What Hinchcliffe would say to a burglar?
“That’s a hilarious question. I would say, ‘Hey, take off that mask. Give me something to work with.’ I would steal his confidence from him.”
7. Hinchcliffe lets the insults fly during his shows.
“When I go out and perform, it’s my nightly therapy session. I go out and set the tone and nobody is safe. Nothing is off limits. I don’t mind pushing the audience away and winning them back.”
8. Insult comics take a risk.
Just ask Hinchcliffe’s pal Jeremiah Watkins, who felt the pain after roasting a member of the audience.
“Jeremiah ripped a guy in the front row, and the guy punched him. Jeremiah went down and was hilarious doing so. Security ejected the guy.”
9. Hinchcliffe hopes to roast a hip-hop legend.
“I would love to go at Kanye West. It would be fun to roast someone who is as emotional as Kanye. There’s a lot to make fun of considering his wife is Kim Kardashian. Rim shot please!
Who: Tony Hinchcliffe. Jeremiah Watkins will open.
When: 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. Jan. 11 and 12
Where: Goodnight’s, 861 W. Morgan St., Raleigh.
Tickets: $21 Friday and $25 Saturday.
Info: 919-828-5233, goodnightscomedy.com