Yes, he’s that guy from Fox NFL Sunday and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, but comedian Rob Riggle was a proud Jarhead long before he was a professional talking head. “I always separated my comedy from my marine duties,” Rob told us during a recent phone chat. “I was an officer, I was expected to lead. I didn’t want to get up there and act like a jackass in front of my Marines. They needed to know I valued their lives, and I was taking it seriously….but now [comedy] is like lifeblood to me.”
In time for the NFL kickoff, we kicked off a conversation with Riggle about his time in the USMC, the weird world of football fans, and, of course, his favorite funny words. Watch or read the interview below—and please, forgive the smell.
Reader’s Digest: Thanks for spending some time with Reader’s Digest today.
Rob Riggle: Absolutely!
RD: One of RD’s longest-running features is [the column] Humor in Uniform. Because you were in The Marine Corps I thought you might be able to set something straight for us.
RR: Fine, hit me.
RD: What smells worse: a pro football player at halftime, or a marine after a day in the field?
RR: A marine after a day in the field. I’ve been there. I’ve also been in a pro football locker room, and I can say this unequivocally—it’s a stinky marine in the field.
RD: Can you give us a sense of what that smells like?
RR: Indian food…with just a light amount of dog poo…and some old odor eaters from your grandfather’s orthopedic shoes. Put that all in a blender, mix it up and put it on a burrito wrap with some jalapeños on top.
RD: Wow…I hope you don’t slip into any PTSD!
RR: [laughs] I’m going back there now, and I’m getting a little sweaty and light-headed.
RD: Are there any funny stories from your time in the military that you can share with us?
RR: You know, not off the top of my head. People ask me that all the time and I wish I had a better answer.
RD: Your sense of humor never got you in trouble?
RR: No, you know, I always kept my sense of humor…not under wrap, you know, I was always myself. But I always separated my comedy from my marine duties. I was an officer, I was expected to lead. I didn’t want to get up there and act like a jackass in front of my marines. They needed to know I valued their lives, and I was taking it seriously.
RD: So what made you decide to act like a jackass professionally?
RR: Probably because I needed to after being in the marines [laughs]. No, I’ve always been a fan of comedy, I’ve always enjoyed it. It’s something I’m very passionate about; it’s like lifeblood to me. I had to pursue it. I thought I had a little bit of talent, and if I could make a living at it, I would do it. It’s worked out so far.
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RD: Congratulations! Let’s move onto football, then. What can you tell me about the Bud Light fan superstition survey?
RR: Well, Bud Light went out and did this huge survey of all the fans in the NFL—close to 10,000 people, and over 300 fans per team—and they just found out some interesting stats and figures about what fans care about, how superstition affects them. And it turns out, the Baltimore Ravens are the most superstitious fans in all of the NFL. Of course, what are you gonna say? They won the Super Bowl! There’s probably something to this stuff. But it was fun just hear some of these things. For example, the Jets fans are most likely of all fans to curse, or put a hex or jinx on the other team.
RD: A hex? Wow…
RR: Yep. So be careful when you come to play at MetLife stadium.
RD: Any other weird superstitions that came up?
RR: Just traditional stuff—wearing certain socks, wearing underwear a certain way, rubbing people’s heads—especially bald guys. That kind of stuff.
RD: How do you wear underwear when you watch football?
RR: I never wear underwear. Never.
RD: Good policy. Well, we like to end our interviews the same way no matter who we’re talking to, and that’s with a joke. Do you have a favorite joke you can tell us?
RR: A lot of ’em, but none that I can tell you!
RD: (laughs) Alright, well, we’ve got a backup: is there a favorite word you can share with us?
RR: Absolutely. Demi-glace.
RR: Demi-glace! I love it! It’s gross, it’s like slacks, or buttermilk. There’s just certain words that are ridiculous.
RD: Thank you very much Rob, and thank you for your service.
RR: Awesome. Thank you!