My Favourite Game
The US standup on videogame escapism, fighting demons, and how Amy Schumer’s mum helped land him a role in GTAV
Standup comic Joe DeRosa on escapism, demons and GTAV
Standup comedian Joe DeRosa is also an actor who’s appeared in TV shows including Better Call Saul, Inside Amy Schumer, Louie and Bored To Death. Grand Theft Auto V players will also recognise him from his voice work in Rockstar’s game, as sleazy Hollywood agent Rufus Bellows.
How did the GTA role come about?
There was a national radio show called Opie And Anthony, and I was one of the regular guests. Lazlow [Jones, Rockstar producer and writer, director and talkshow host] was a big fan of the show. I ended up meeting him at a barbecue at Amy Schumer’s mum’s house on July 4, years before Amy was the most famous person in the world. And he goes, “Hey, man, I like you on the show. Why don’t you come by, and we can get you in Grand Theft Auto V?” And I was like, “Er, yeah...” trying to play it really cool while inside I was freaking out.
How did it go?
We had a lunch meeting and he said he was thinking I could be one of the DJs on the radio stations. So I went in and had to sign all these papers to say I wouldn’t speak of anything I saw within the walls of Rockstar Games. Then they told me they had to fit this thing on my head and put this light in my face and all this stuff. And I was like, “Sorry, what’s happening?” And they said they had to capture my face for the game. It was like showing up to be a Storm Trooper in Star Wars and then being told to take the mask off and being given lines: “Here’s Luke – just stand next to him!”
Were you already a fan of the series?
I remember playing the original ones in college, and they reminded me of this game called APB that I used to play in the arcade as a kid. But I’d never felt as immersed in a game before GTAIII.
You’re a fan of horror and sciencefiction – is that reflected in the games you’re drawn towards?
I’m a big fan of Stephen King, Richard Matheson, Harlan Ellison and writers like that, and I’m a huge horror movie fan. So, yeah, that affects the videogames I play 110 per cent. I’m playing the new Doom right now, and it’s great – I love fighting demons and anything with monsters in it. I was really disappointed when the new Silent Hill never materialised! And I really like ultraviolent games like Ninja Gaiden 2. I’m not looking for violence, but an escape – it’s dumb fun. I want to jump in, enjoy fast and furious action, and then get out again. I hate the Fallout games – they’re masterpieces, but I don’t want to walk around a wasteland collecting cans. I have an old-school mentality – a very arcade-centric mentality. And for some reason the games that capture that best for me are usually horror or stuff like Gears Of War and God Of War. I’m like, “Just tell me who I am and let’s go!”
You mention Mortal Kombat in one of your standup routines – have you followed the fighting-game scene?
“I hate the Fallout games – they’re masterpieces, but I don’t want to walk around collecting cans”
I was obsessed with Street Fighter II, as every kid was. I’m 38, so I was right in the sweet spot when the game came out. I remember my cousin bringing me to the arcade to show me it for the first time. The whole time before we got there I was like, “Street Fighter is one of the worst games I’ve played – there’s no way this game is going to be good.” And he’s like, “Trust me!” And, of course, when we got there the line was practically out of the door to play it, and it was mind blowing. But Mortal Kombat reeled me in because of the gore, and the fact that Liu Kang seemed to be modelled quite intentionally after Bruce Lee. Mortal Kombat was the reason I got a Genesis instead of Super Nintendo, because Genesis had the blood code… I was like, “Fuck you, Nintendo, I’m 14!”
And which game is your absolute favourite?
Resident Evil 4. I was one of the ten people who chose to buy GameCube over PlayStation, and it was an exclusive that came out when a lot of people were talking shit about the console. It was like, “Fuck you – we got one!” I was really mad when they ported it to PlayStation [laughs]. I’d never been a huge fan of the series – it was a little too slow for me. So I just bought it because it was an exclusive, not expecting much, and within ten minutes of playing I was like, “This is amazing.” It balanced action, story and puzzlesolving better than any game I’ve ever played, and it’s one of the few games I’ve revisited multiple times.