Brody Stevens, Standup Comedian, Speaks Out About his Infamous Twitter Meltdown
Show business, they say, is all about big highs and big lows. That certainly has been true for comedian Brody Stevens -- in recent years, he both nabbed roles in major summer blockbusters and had a mental breakdown. On Twitter. In front of 15,000-plus followers.
So now a guy who defined himself by living in the San Fernando Valley, where he grew up, has been forced to move. Now the funny man who was starting to hit the big time is trying to claw his way back.
But you can say this for Stevens: He didn't hide anything when he was cracking up, and he's not hiding anything now.
"I had an episode, and I had to move out of the Valley," is how he begins. A tall, swarthy 41-year-old who pitched for Arizona State, his greenish eyes can range from aggressively mischievous to suicide-bomber intense. "So what started out as a story about a guy who's from the Valley living in the Valley, went to a guy from the Valley who's now living on Hollywood Boulevard. The nicer part of Hollywood Boulevard. The seminicer part."
|Stevens performing with Chelsea Handler on Chelsea Lately|
Stevens -- who was born Steven Brody but reversed it for performance purposes -- had gone on a 12-day trip to comedy festivals in Dublin and Montreal in late July. He was extremely emotionally high from a few recent successes. He hypothesizes that this, combined with recovery from a brutal case of strep throat he caught on the trip, plus running out of his prescription antidepressant Lexapro, added up to a physiological perfect storm of manic, supercharged behavior upon his return.
"A close entertainment friend tells me I'm being too loud and leaves me a mean voice mail: 'Don't talk to me like that in my house.' It was really bad. This guy told me he didn't like my new attitude. But I was happy!"
Stevens' last few years had been a roller coaster. Among the lows: the sudden, bitter end to his three-year audience-warm-up gig on Chelsea Lately, the result of butting heads with producers who, in Stevens' estimation, just didn't understand or appreciate his job there. He also had a falling-out with longtime friend, and now ex-roommate, Johnny Spanish over a shared podcast.
But the highs were considerable. Stevens' longtime friend Zach Galifianakis got him small but notable roles in The Hangover (the original and the sequel) and Due Date. Galifianakis then helped sell HBO on a quasi-reality show about Stevens; they successfully shot a pilot. Stevens' sets at prestigious comedy festivals had won accolades, and he had recently guest-hosted TMZ for a week while Harvey Levin was on vacation.
"TMZ went very well," he says. "And I start tweeting a bit: 'Brody & TMZ -- power couple!'
"A few people thought I was too 'up,' or this wasn't the Brody they knew," Stevens says. "Well, I was happy. I was doing a victory lap."
That Saturday, Stevens went to a party thrown by Sarah Silverman, where he hung out with David Cross, Robert Smigel and Garry Shandling. He felt that he'd connected with Marilyn Manson. But he recalls that Silverman asked him, "Brody, does it all have to be about you?"
|Stevens chats with Kevin Nealon at The Laugh Factory|
Stevens, who has logged more than 17,000 tweets, reaches a dedicated (and sometimes influential) audience. But the "wrong" tweets can have consequences. After his friends' comments provoked him, the very next day, by Stevens' own account, he went "nuts" on Twitter.
"They upset me by saying that stuff about me: 'What are you doing?! This isn't the Brody we know.' So you're telling me to go back to being miserable? I'm happy for, like, a week. Let me be happy."
Stevens tweeted a flurry of "fuck yous" to people he felt had been disrespectful jerks. Other tweets aimed inward.
I'm off Lexapro & I have a gun in my mouth! Do you believe me? #trust #me & #magnets - #5150 on roof, ok? #PositveConnection #belief #daisy
"People started texting me: 'Brody, what's wrong with you? I'm afraid for you.' They're thinking I'm gonna hurt myself."
Many in the comedy community interpreted the behavior as some kind of performance art.
"I know @AllThingsBrody," one fan wrote. "He ain't killing himself. But he might kill you. He's just sick of taking shit. And sicker of the Dodgers' record."
Added another, "I firmly believe that @AllThingsBrody's Twitter meltdown is just the best viral marketing tactic in the history of media."
Stevens retweeted that remark. When someone on Twitter compared him to Charlie Sheen, he retweeted that, too.
"That's the danger of his 'persona,' " an astute commenter would later write on the alt-comedy Web forum aspecialthing.com. "It was very difficult to discern the difference between a bit and a genuine breakdown."
That Monday, LAPD showed up at Stevens' place. One of the cops recognized him from The Hangover and TMZ.
"They say you might be suicidal, or wanna hurt somebody," the officer told him. To which he replied, "I'm fine. Why would I -- I just hosted TMZ!"