Tom Segura isn’t just a one-trick bear. He’s four Netflix comedy specials deep, a producer, someone who sits by a lot of celebrities on planes, co-host of a pair of podcasts — “Your Mom’s House” with wife/mommy Christina P. and “Two Bears, One Cave” with Bert Kreischer — and on Tuesday he becomes a published author with the arrival of his first book, “I’d Like to Play Alone, Please.” Seems the only thing Tom can’t do is be a doctor.
Segura’s quick wit and irreverent charm come across loud and clear in “I’d Like to Play Alone, Please,” a collection of essays that reads like a stand-up set deserving of a standing ovation. While on the road for his, “I’m Coming Everywhere Tour,” we got the comedian to slow down long enough to discuss balancing family and work, the love/hate process of writing his book, ignoring cancel culture, and pissing off his mom.
With everything going on, how did you even find time to write all of these essays?
I got an initial call to do this a couple of months into the pandemic. I’d written a couple thousand words and talked with the publisher and my agent about the concept being essays. Then she's like, "Could you write a few thousand more words?" So I put together more and sent them in. Then they’re like, “Just get to writing and send them in as you get it.” Immediately, I talked to some comedian friends, and they were like, “Oh, you don’t want to do this. Writing a book is terrible.” I’m like, "What are you talking about? I’m enjoying it!" They’re like, “You haven’t really started. Can you get out of it?!”
Did you get into a rhythm with the writing where it all came together?
Some days were slower than others. At one point, I sent in 30[,000] to 35,000 words and was working on the notes they sent back slowly. Then I got hurt in December of 2020. [Segura broke multiple bones attempting to dunk. Trying to make it sound cooler for him.] I feel like when I was in the hospital, that’s when my publisher checked in, like, “Hey, do you have those notes?” I’m like, "Um…I’m in the hospital." When I got out, “So how soon until you get through those notes?” My left hand doesn’t work, and I have, like, nerve damage. “OK, how soon will you be done with your notes?” I'm like, "I don’t f— know!" Some chapters looked great and then the next chapter they’re basically like, "How about you just go ahead and rewrite this full chapter?" The best part was one time they checked in with, “You’re pretty much done with the notes — when is your next submission coming in for the rest of the book?” I’m like, "What? How much more do you need? Because I sent in about 35,000 words." She’s like, "Yeah, about that much more." The night before my deadline I was like, "I’m going to need like two more months." They shut that down quick and I turned it in a week later.
I’m glad you didn’t give up because this book is so damn funny. People tend to focus on the moms, but dads being away from the kids for work is tough too.
Yeah, It’s such a bummer when you're getting videos. And you know how FaceTime works, but these two little dudes, they just punch the phone. So we send videos to each other and some days I'm really sad that I’m missing things. But I fly home and just went fishing with my oldest, which I like to do. The reason I signed up for such an aggressive tour schedule is because I signed up for it when I wasn't working. You get these calls like, "Do you wanna do Louisville and then the next day you'll be in Grand Rapids?" I’d be like, "Yeah, just put it on the calendar!" Then later it’s like, oh OK, this is nuts. I feel super cool that my wife is so supportive. She’s so devoted to those little guys and still manages to tour and put out a Netflix special. She’s just the greatest mom. Those kids would probably be in foster care if it was just me.
Enthusiastically agree. Keeping with the family theme, you mention in your book how your mom will react after she reads it. Has that happened?
I read her the chapter about my dad and then I told her the name of her chapter and she literally said, “You did not do that. You said that about your own mother?” I was like, "Yeah." Then I started reading her the chapter and she just started shaking her head and said, “You’re a piece of s—.” It is exactly, and I mean exactly, the way I describe her.
If someone actually did get mad at your book, it would probably be a doctor because you wrote about how you thought you could be one. If you were a doctor with a billboard slogan, what would it be?
That was legit, by the way! I thought I could be a doctor! My slogan would be, “Lemme Hook You Up.” It’d get all of the cash buyers. In my picture I’d be holding an IV bag in one hand and a bottle of pills in the other.
Since you also could’ve been a rapper, if you could be pulled on stage at any concert and annihilate the lyrics, which group and what song would it be?
Wow, that’s a good question because there are so many. My brain just fired off like insanity when I heard that question. The first thing that came to mind is [A] Tribe [Called Quest]. I'm a big fan of "Midnight Marauders." When I think back to a time where you really clicked with music, that’s my album. "Electric Relaxation" is probably my favorite hip-hop song, so that would be one. Pharcyde’s “Passin’ Me By” would be another. That would be a dream.
The way you addressed cancel culture as it relates to jokes versus truths in the “America’s Most Wanted” chapter and offering some major positivity in “What’s My Theme” all felt really important.
Thanks! I don’t know if you’ve felt it, but I feel like the tide is shifting. Not everyone’s in, but people are figuring out that you don't have to pay attention to certain stuff. You can completely disregard a lot of that blowback of people being upset. You can just keep saying what you wanna say and keep going while ignoring that kind of noise. In “What’s My Theme,” of course, I had to preface it by saying I’m being serious, so people know. I've always liked being around any artist, whether they're literal painters, actors or writers. I always try to encourage them because I think the arts are so important and I love consuming art. Sometimes when you're like, "Why am I doing this? Nobody cares," hearing something or reading something when you’re in those times can be a boost, so I just try to encourage people to keep going.
You mentioned on your podcast "Your Mom's House" that you’re shooting some shorts. Are any based off of chapters in your book?
They’re not. I wrote these shorts and what I ended up doing was shooting three of them. So now I'm making my own episode of television. I spent a f— fortune doing it. An absolutely insane amount of money. I did it because I wanted to make it. It’s cool to me. It’s a huge undertaking when you’re doing it all on your own. I think it’ll be done late summer/early fall. Then I’ll be looking to put it out in some way by October.
You think you’ll try to push your deadline an extra two months like your book?
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.