Dylan Carlino: Eat, Gay, Love

October 22, 2023

Photo Credit

Andres Rodriguez


Valerie Lopez


Richard Goodwin

300 and more to go

This week marks our 300th episode, and we couldn’t be more excited. (First time here? You can catch up in the back catalog!) Valerie Lopez has talked to stars big and small, I've talked to many and written about many more. We couldn't have known how much work it would involve, what we'd learn (and that the learning never stops), and how rewarding it would turn out to be. It's impossible to imagine our lives without Comedy Wham, and we hope you feel the same.

In com­e­dy, as in life, all roads lead to some­where, quite often a bar. For Dylan Car­li­no, our 300th episode guest, and Cap City Com­e­dy Club’s Fun­ni­est Per­son in Austin 2023 Win­ner, the roads seem to both start and end with Eliz­a­beth Gilbert.

Yes, she of the sem­i­nal book/​movie/​ever bur­geon­ing empire of Eat, Pray, Love. Car­li­no sum­mons Gilbert’s name moments into the inter­view with Valerie Lopez, and trust me she’ll be back mul­ti­ple times. (Actu­al­ly, lis­ten to the episode, I’ve giv­en you lit­er­al­ly no rea­son to trust me, yet.) Match­ing Gilbert plug for plug is CW dar­ling Colton Dowl­ing, whose empire is a tad small­er but — much like the man’s mus­tache — shows no signs of stop­ping. We’ll return to both titans in a few.

Carlino’s sto­ry doesn’t start in Austin; to find his ori­gins we have to turn to the pic­turesque area of Mass­a­chu­setts known as The Berk­shires. The city’s cur­rent tagline, Life is Call­ing”, sug­gests to me that – if it is – it’s not call­ing droves of peo­ple to The Berk­shires. It’s where Car­li­no first start­ed per­form­ing, with the ground­break­ing rou­tine of smok­ing weed and telling peo­ple I was­n’t gay”. No great come­di­an nails it out of the gate, as he reviews his own mate­r­i­al: Lackluster…no one was buy­ing it”.

The cohost of pod­cast Some Of This Is Bad (with oth­er-co-host Dowl­ing) had dreams aplen­ty in that dreamy berg: being a nurse, being a writer, try­ing standup. So, after high school, Car­li­no pur­sued them the way he knew best, say­ing he kicked the sum­mer off by get­ting real­ly fat and work­ing at a gas sta­tion”. As we know, that more than qual­i­fies a per­son for the pro­fes­sion he ulti­mate­ly decid­ed to pur­sue. (If it isn’t clear yet, check the bit in our name before the Wham”.)

It's me, and...like hundreds of upper middle class white women holding each other and crying
Dylan Carlino, on weekend workshop with Elizabeth Gilbert

Every­one’s first open mic is usu­al­ly a coin toss, with fame and glo­ry on one face, and a bomb on the oth­er. For Car­li­no, he came up lucky the first time, and felt like I was killing it”. The sec­ond out­ing got the reverse side, as he strug­gled to com­pete with bar-side TV’s and chat­ter, utter­ly tank­ing with the same mate­r­i­al. But it got him noticed, and soon he was get­ting tapped to appear reg­u­lar­ly as an open­er for comics vis­it­ing from such lofty heights as New York City. With his con­fi­dence grow­ing, he got the chance to attend a work­shop with the afore­men­tioned Gilbert, and it played no small role in Car­li­no’s next steps.

It’s me, and…like hun­dreds of upper mid­dle class white women hold­ing each oth­er and cry­ing,” Car­li­no says, laugh­ing about the expe­ri­ence. From the tears flowed per­son­al break­throughs, and he cred­its the three days as seri­ous­ly one of the best things that’s ever hap­pened to him. Eat, Pray, Love is noth­ing if not about get­ting out of your rut and into the world, and Car­li­no was ready to take the leap; life, it seemed, was call­ing after all, and the num­ber was from out of state. He’d recent­ly lost 75 pounds, which no doubt did­n’t hurt the spring in his step, and decid­ed to take the leap.

I typed in gay cities in Amer­i­ca’ ”, Car­li­no jokes by way of explain­ing his choice to pick up and move to Port­land. (Austin was also on the list, but we did­n’t make the cut at the time. Some­thing to strive for!) Once set­tled, he set a per­son­al goal of land­ing a pop­u­lar Port­land show called Dough, and made it after a mere four months. In a bit of fore­shad­ow­ing, Car­li­no also appeared in the cov­et­ed Willamette Week (not entire­ly unlike our beloved Austin Chron­i­cle) Fun­ni­est Five” show­case, ulti­mate­ly tak­ing sec­ond place in the con­test. We gave him first place, just sayin’.

Not a bad start for a guy who first thought Kathy Grif­fin was the only come­di­an out there. I did­n’t know that stand up com­e­dy was even some­thing that was happening…I thought Kathy Grif­fin was the only per­son who had ever done this, because all I watched was Bra­vo,” Car­li­no jokes of his ear­ly intro­duc­tion, not­ing then I found out who Sarah Sil­ver­man was.” 

Give me [the FPIA winnings money] and 6 months, and I'll look like Joan Rivers
Dylan Carlino

This is where we are legal­ly required to inter­rupt the good times and remind every­one that a pan­dem­ic hap­pened. For Car­li­no, it meant it was time for anoth­er lifestyle change. I sat in Port­land and drank in my house,” he recalls, when he was­n’t walk­ing the streets and feel­ing like the star of a film about the zom­bie apoc­a­lypse”, or the even dici­er role: man­ag­ing a Mas­sage Envy dur­ing a pan­dem­ic. (“Can you even imag­ine any­thing dark­er?” Car­li­no jokes.)

When talk turns to the move to Austin, Valerie pulls out her now-almost-sig­na­ture seg­ment – where each pull a card from Esther Perel’s game Where Should We Begin. It turns out Car­li­no is famil­iar with Per­el, hav­ing heard of her via, you guessed it, Eliz­a­beth Gilbert. But Gilbert now must take a rare back­seat as Colton Dowl­ing enters the sto­ry. (If you’ve seen him, you know he would­n’t fit back there anyway…the man has stature.) I can’t do jus­tice to the sto­ries of Car­li­no and Dowl­ing meet­ing, or how they came to col­lab­o­rate, or even how Car­li­no is nev­er real­ly sure where Dowl­ing is; I sug­gest (nay, insist) you lis­ten to the episode.

Suf­fice to say, the two – both new­ly sober – hit it off, becom­ing fast friends. We go on walks three days a week,” Car­li­no says, which is free and better…than gain­ing weight and los­ing mon­ey”. The top­ic of tor­so vies with Gilbert in num­ber of appear­ances in this episode, as well as on stage in his mate­r­i­al. As some­one who has also rid­den the body image roller­coast­er, I can iden­ti­fy with Car­li­no’s seem­ing­ly coun­ter­in­tu­itive insis­tence that he thinks high­ly of [him­self]”, but just does­n’t like [his] body”. Nev­er one to keep things too seri­ous, he soon fol­lows up with a promise: give me [the FPIA win­nings mon­ey] and 6 months, and I’ll look like Joan Rivers”.

With the 2023 FPIA under his belt (as his belt? in his belt?), Car­li­no is quick to note that doesn’t plan to leave Austin any­time soon. The noto­ri­ety of the win, ongo­ing pod­cast with Dowl­ing, and oth­er projects in the works give him plen­ty to work and build on for what looks like a bright future. A Moon­tow­er Com­e­dy Fes­ti­val spot tra­di­tion­al­ly fol­lows an FPIA win, and Car­li­no is ready to take it on. I’m just keep­ing going, no mat­ter what hap­pens,” he says, and would love to do at all…blow up and go on tour…things like that.”

It’s worth not­ing that Car­li­no also jokes that he could see him­self get­ting rich, quit­ting com­e­dy, and remak­ing Phoebe Bridgers albums”, word for word, in his own voice. Our take­away is that Dylan Car­li­no is ready to take on the world, in what­ev­er form and fit he needs to do so. It’s some­thing that Eliz­a­beth Gilbert (and of course Colton Dowl­ing) would eat, pray, lov­ing­ly sup­port, and so do we.

Fol­low Dylan

Dylan can be seen and heard:

  • Some of this is Bad Pod­cast — co-host­ed with Colton Dowling
  • 2023 Cap City Com­e­dy Club Fun­ni­est Per­son in Austin Winner
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Dylan Carlino