Rich Vos was the first white guy on Russell Simmons’ Def Comedy Jam and took a star turn or three on Last Comic Standing. Bonnie McFarlane wrote and directed the film Women Aren’t Funny, penned the book You’re Better Than Me and was booted off Last Comic Standing for a cunt joke. Today Rich tours regularly while Bonnie does stand-up and writes scripts and TV shows, and together they host the hilarious podcast My Wife Hates Me. During a recent threeway (phone call) with HUSTLER, the married comedians talked anything-goes roasts, the beauty of belligerence and who the real headliner is in their household.
HUSTLER: It’s good to interview people who can’t be offended.
BONNIE MCFARLANE: Oh, no, there are topics that could offend him. I’m just gonna wait to see if you fall into the trap.
RICH VOS: I’m offended that you say I get offended!
BONNIE: Do you want me to say what you get offended by?
BONNIE: Jew stuff. Any kind of—RICH: Oh, anti-Semitic stuff, yeah, ’cause—
BONNIE: Okay, there you go!
RICH: I don’t get offended, but I’m tired of Jews getting blamed for everything the WASP has done throughout history.
What about you, Bonnie? Do you have a hot-button topic?
RICH: Oh, really? Really?
Tell me, Rich.
BONNIE: I don’t, but if people make jokes about mentally handicapped people, I think they’re assholes.
RICH: Bonnie’s sister is mentally handicapped. And maybe Bonnie is a little bit too.
BONNIE: I just think anyone who makes fun of someone who can’t defend themselves is a jerk.
RICH: That’s not the only thing that offends Bonnie. I’m not gonna get into it, ’cause I’m not a snitch like her—
BONNIE: I’m offended by snitches!
Okay, on to the Vos Roast that celebrated Rich’s 60th birthday. It was so funny, but was I the only person who felt bad for Jim Florentine?
BONNIE: No, people did. At one point I was sitting next to Jim, and I started to feel bad for him. I kind of put my hand on him and patted his leg, but then I was like, What am I doing? It’s a roast!
All that stuff about his dead girlfriend or the wife who left him for a 20-year-old cop?
RICH: Jim doesn’t get offended pretty much by anything. And like Bonnie said, once you put yourself in the position to be on a roast, you gotta know people are gonna come at you for whatever weakness you have. It’s not a toast; it’s a roast.
BONNIE: It’s like when you sit around with your family at dinner. You make fun of them for things they did two summers ago; that’s the way a real roast is. There’s a mean quality about it, but sometimes that’s how people show affection by, like, poking at each other.
Even I had to cringe when Bonnie said she hated Jim Norton’s radio show so much that she’d rather hear the sound of her own daughter drowning.
BONNIE: Yes, and I stand by that.
Doesn’t that joke give you pause?
BONNIE: No, it doesn’t give me pause because I don’t think your words can affect stuff. That’s kind of magical thinking. If I could affect stuff with words, I’d really turn it all around for myself.
During the roast, Rich, you asked Bonnie, “Who’d you have to fuck to get this gig?” And Bonnie, you were talking about your friend who’d had a stroke and said, “If only Vos could get half as hard as his right hand.” Is that how you guys talk in real life?
BONNIE: Yeah, we do roast jokes right until we start to have sex.
RICH: And then after it. Bonnie was saying the other day that what’s great about our podcast—and our life—is we can say anything to each other and we won’t get upset. An argument is different, but in general the stuff we say to each other would make most couples divorce within a week.
BONNIE: We’ve got grit!
Tough question: Who’s the headliner in your household?
RICH: Wait a sec, real quick. I don’t want to cut you off, but—[Bonnie laughs.] About the roast, I think you would ask—
BONNIE: You’re giving yourself questions now?
RICH: Yeah, I think you would ask, “Vos, were you nervous going up after all those heavy hitters? When they all killed, how’d you feel about that?”
BONNIE: Yeah, because if there’s one thing I can say about HUSTLER, they wanna know your feelings!
RICH: I’m just saying, it was scary, and to do as well as I did was quite the accomplishment.
Rich, I’m impressed with your self-confidence.
RICH: I might have low self-esteem on the inside, but on the outside I’m very confident. I’ve been doing this for 34 years, so with all my accomplishments, I should be confident, from Rosie O’Donnell to Def Jam, hosting Woodstock ’99, doing the Apollo and BET and The View. I’ve done so many, but I do get nervous every time I go onstage, at least until I get the first laugh. And Bonnie is great on like late-night TV shows. She’s done 3 Lettermans, Colbert; she just did Fallon and crushed. And she’s great at that, but we have different fortes in this business. She doesn’t get nervous for that, but I would have a meltdown if I had to do those shows.
BONNIE: I get nervous.
RICH: Not as nervous as I would get.
BONNIE: Okay, you win.
RICH: No, I’m just saying…I don’t know what I’m saying.
BONNIE: I don’t know what you’re saying either. I feel like there’s a compliment in there, but there’s also something underneath that I’m supposed to be really gathering, like, oh, you’re better at the live show. Is that what you’re saying?
RICH: No, not at all. When you love somebody, you can’t compare! You can’t compare Picasso to Rembrandt! I’m saying she’s better at one forte, and we’re both great at the other.
BONNIE: Interesting way you put that.