Christian Finnegan is a regular on “Are We There Yet,” a show with 44 episodes already under its belt and entering its third season on TBS this fall. But talk to him and he comes off like the average working comedian.
“Right now, I’m able to pay my rent and go on the occasional vacation. If I want to order an appetizer, I order an appetizer,” said Finnegan about his success. “Next year, who can say?”
Finnegan credits his wife for his abilities, the only plug he gave me was for his Twitter (@ChristFinnegan – a joke about the hubristic nature of his name), and is even humble about his remarkable weight loss. While many people would throw that in the face of anyone who’d listen (and even some who wouldn’t), Finnegan doesn’t even mention it in his act.
“I don’t talk about it onstage,” Finnegan said of dropping a startling 88 pounds in under a year. “I’ve found that there is nothing less funny than actual accomplishment.”
Which are two words I’d use when discussing Finnegan: funny and accomplishment. A former writer and guest on “Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn,” Finnegan has been on “The Late Late Show,” “Last Call with Carson Daly,” “Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” and dozens more. He was a series regular on “Best Week Ever,” had roles in movies like “Knight and Day,” and has had two very successful albums. But when I asked Finnegan when he turned pro, his answer was, “any day now.”
Even when it comes to “Chad,” his iconic character on the “Mad Real World” sketch on “Chappelle’s Show,” Finnegan cites luck and not his obvious talent.
“How cool is that?” Finnegan asked about of having “Chappelle’s Show” on his resume. “I’ve always felt like a guy in the stands who caught a home run ball.”
Finnegan first started his journey towards turning a hobby into a career in 1997 at an open mic in NYC in “a room full of wacko poets, musicians, drug-addicted ranters and wannabe cult leaders.” And it was these early days of getting knocked around that helped him stay grounded.
Finnegan’s first big goal was to perform on a show called “Eating It,” the most popular live standup show in New York at the time. He finally got his spot the same night that Wanda Sykes dropped by.
“The show went great and I walked out that night foolishly thinking that Wanda Sykes and I were now ‘peers’,” Finnegan said, before explaining that his day job at the time was to dress up like a Christmas elf and take Polaroids at corporate holiday parties.
The next day, Finnegan put on his costume and snapped photos at a party at Caroline’s on Broadway, the biggest comedy club in New York. The featured entertainment that night was Wanda Sykes.
“As I stood there in my green tights and rubber pointy shoes watching her absolutely destroy,” said Finnegan, “I realized maybe Ms. Sykes and I weren’t peers after all.”
Maybe that’s why Finnegan’s comedy is so relatable. Even when he’s a television star, he still manages to be the everyman, going through the same daily humiliations we all face.
“There is no such thing as having ‘made it,’ there is only ‘making it.’” Finnegan said. “A good comedian never stops feeling demeaned.”