Gabriel Rutledge: Comedy and Family Life

Gabriel Rutledge is one of the funniest comics in Washington. He lives in Olympia with his wife, Kristi, and their three young children. Kristi and Gabriel record a podcast, The Rutledges, where they hold forth on every possible topic with an honesty that would be considered ill-advised if it weren’t so funny. The podcast offers a peek at the intersection between comedy as art/commerce and comedy as it is lived in the home. I asked Gabriel some questions about marriage, his career, and his son Johnny’s YouTube dominance.

You travel around the country headlining comedy clubs while your wife [at left with Rutledge] stays home with three young children. How does she not hate you, or does she?
I’m sure she does sometimes. I would hate me. Taking care of three kids alone is a Navy Seal training-level of psychological torture and sleep deprivation. She definitely owns all the complaining rights. When she tells me how she only slept two hours because the baby has an ear infection I can’t be like “Oh, you think that’s bad? Last night while I was onstage, the audience would not stop buying me shots of Jaeger. So annoying, right?” In my defense, although the comedy career is 100 percent my fault, the three kids are at least 50 percent her fault. Probably more like 75 percent.

On The Rutledges podcast, you speak very frankly about youthful indiscretions, “parent sex”, weight gain, and embarrassing stories involving your kids. Has that caused any awkward moments at the playground?
I’m used to talking about my penis in front of friends and strangers, but I think Kristi struggles with that a little bit. A lot of her friends listen, so if she’s at a kid’s birthday party and she knows half the adults in the room heard the podcast that week where we discussed proper morning sex etiquette, yeah, I think that causes her at least some internal awkwardness. I think we’re both worried about what our kids will think eventually. We’re really honest with our kids about everything, so I hope they’ll be cool. That being said, we don’t even swear in front of them, and we just did a podcast where we talked about fart porn for five minutes. I have the same worry with my stand up. I heard Louis CK asked in an interview how he would justify to his children the jokes he’s made about them. He said something along the lines of “I’ll tell them those jokes bought this house and all your stuff.” I guess if my kids ask me, I can say “Well, your grandma bought this house, but those jokes made the minimum payment on the credit card we maxed out buying all your stuff.”

Are there any topics in your marriage that you consider off-limits, for onstage or for the podcast?
Yes, but we’ve only done 15 podcasts. We might need the content eventually. Sometimes the things Kristi considers “off limits” surprise me. We’ve had incredibly frank discussions about monogamy, masturbation, her bi-sexual tendencies, all kinds of super-personal topics. She was fine with all of that, but the time I brought up that she was a cheerleader in high school, she freaked out a little bit. We left it in the podcast though. (Episode 3!)

Kristi can riff right alongside you like a pro. What special skills do you need to be a comic’s spouse?
Kristi is funny, but she’s not funny in the competitive one-upmanship way that sometimes comedians seem to fall into with each other. One of the great things about doing the podcast, for me, is being able to riff with someone who would never use the word “riff.” We’ve been married for 15 years, which is like 223 in comedy marriage years. She’s been incredibly patient, supportive and tolerant of my comedy career, which is really all you can ask for in a comedy spouse. I’m not sure I’ve done anything right or wrong to deserve that, but I definitely appreciate the gift from the universe. Also, I think it helps that I was in a punk rock band for 10 years, so when I started doing comedy it actually seemed like a move toward normalcy.

Your son has a YouTube video that has gotten, like, 1000 times more hits than any of your comedy videos, correct?  What happened there?
I am a professional comedian who has appeared on Comedy Central and performs all over North America. As I type this, my most popular YouTube video has 11,248 views. When my son was 7 he made a video of himself playing with his Ben 10 toys in our backyard. About two minutes of the video is actually an accidental close-up of some ivy on our fence. His video has 1,723,888 views. He also has one that has 635,000 and one that has 457,000. He’s kind of a dick about it, too. He even asked me if I wanted him to put a link to my videos on his, so I could get more views. The good thing is I monetized his videos and he’s made $200-$275 a month for about the past year. We put it into a savings account for him that he can use to pay for community college or counseling when he’s older. Also sometimes we borrow money from him when I’m waiting on a check and we run out of grapes.

Subscribe to The Rutledges podcast. Check our Gabriel’s act in the clip below.