Comedian, actor and podcaster Tom Segura can now add published author to his resume as his first book, “I’d Like To Play Alone, Please,” hits stores on June 14.
Though he’s been busy in recent years, selling-out comedy shows across the country, releasing four Netflix comedy specials, hosting and producing two popular podcasts — “Your Mom’s House” with his wife, comedian Christina P., and “Two Bears, One Cave” alongside his best friend and fellow comic Bert Kreischer — the pandemic pause on touring during the gave him time to reflect on his life. So he began to write about his misadventures, thoughts on parenting, and all the celebrities he’s sat next to on airplanes.
He didn’t have to mull over the title too long, either. “I’d like to play alone, please” was the first full sentence his eldest son, Ellis, ever spoke to him. Segura recalls the moment vividly. There was little Ellis, surrounded by toys, coloring on a piece of paper with a crayon.
As Segura tried to join him, he got the brush off.
“When I was writing this book I was telling that story, it just hit me like, Yeah, this feels like a title,” Segura said during a recent phone interview from his home in Austin, Texas. He said the rejection did sting a bit at the time, but he respected his son’s space and could also relate to how he was feeling. Sometimes he needed alone time, too.
“That was a few years ago, but that’s really his personality,” he continued. “Sometimes now he gets home from school and he’ll go ‘I don’t want you to touch me or tell me that you love me right now.’ Like that’s the first thing he’ll say and I’m like, ‘All right.’ That could be the title for the next book.”
Segura’s book is a fun read. He dedicated it to his late father, Ret. Marine Corps Capt. Thomas N. Segura, who provided him with plenty of fodder for the memoir; readers may get a sense of where some of Segura’s inappropriate humor stems from. The comedian shares in the book that his Peruvian mother, Onania, always says what’s on her mind, even if the timing isn’t appropriate and admits that it may not be every parent’s dream to have their offspring air their dirty laundry for laughs in a book.
“My mom did read the book already, and surprisingly, she said she loved it,” he said. “I didn’t know how she would feel, but she said it made her laugh and cry. She was very complimentary about it. If my dad were still here, all of that is 100 percent accurate. He’d be like, ‘Yup, that’s exactly right. That’s who I am.’ He’d just nod a bunch and be like, ‘That’s me.’”
Of course, he makes fun of himself, too. He talks about growing up with dreams of becoming a doctor or a professional football player. Inspired by Chris Rock and Dave Attell, Segura wound up choosing a stand-up comedy and shares wild stories of his celebrity encounters while traveling for work.
He’s ended up sitting next to some big names including comedian and actor Chris Tucker, boxer Mike Tyson, tennis great Serena Williams and R&B singer-songwriter Jill Scott. While he included most of these encounters in the book, there are still a few folks he’d like to fly the friendly skies with. “But they probably never fly commercially,” he added.
“It would be fun to talk to like [director Quentin] Tarantino or [director Martin] Scorsese,” he said. “Or fly next to RZA from Wu-Tang Clan. I’d just bombard them with questions.”
Not everyone was super keen on flying next to Segura. There is a quick chapter about sitting next to R&B singer Omarion, who Segura says completely ignored him by placing a blanket over his head for the duration of the flight. “In retrospect, I really respect it,” he wrote under a selfie of Segura seated next to a blanketed person on a plane.
While he doesn’t hope that anyone gets seriously hurt, he says watching people fall, stumble or get injured in some bizarre way makes him laugh uncontrollably. But after years of laughing at others, Segura took his own now well-documented fall on Dec. 1, 2020. He was filming a basketball dunking contest, went in for his shot and crumpled to the ground in a heap of pain, rupturing the patellar tendon in his left knee and breaking the hummerus bone in his left arm.
Though he had to be hauled off in an ambulance and spent several months in physical therapy, Segura said there’s no denying that the multi-cam footage, which he and Kreischer ended up releasing as a ticketed pay-per-view-style event, was painful, but he also knew people would laugh.
“I’m pretty much healed now, but I have some of the residual things,” Segura said. “I’ve gone back and shot some basketball, but I haven’t done any dunking and I’m not gonna jump as hard as I can. I’ve pretty much done a complete 180 since then when it comes to the health stuff. I have a trainer on the road and we work out twice a day. We lift in the mornings and we do cardio in the afternoon and we focus on eating a lot of lean protein. I’ve definitely gotten a lot healthier since I got injured.”
But does he still laugh when he sees a video of someone getting hurt?
“Absolutely,” he writes in the book.
On top of being out promoting the book, Segura is currently on his I’m Coming Everywhere World Tour, which is sold out at Spotlight 29 Casino in Coachella on June 18, but there are still seats available for his show later this year at The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park in San Diego on Sept. 22. With all of the recent media attention on assaults on comedians — whether on stage hosting the Oscars like Chris Rock or headlining the Hollywood Bowl like Dave Chappelle — Segura said those types of things don’t cross his mind while he’s performing.
“What’s really crazy are the people who kind of justify it,” he said. “The people who say things like, ‘You better watch your mouth, if you say something you might get hit.’ Like what are you talking about? What world are you living in that you think that if you hear things you don’t like, you go pop somebody in the mouth? I guess that’s one way of doing things. I think those things say more about the people who think that’s a justifiable thing to do.”
While unable to tour during the pandemic, he was able to podcast. It’s a medium he’s been involved in for a dozen years and he’s glad that he got in early, noting that all of the podcasts that part of his YMH Studios brand grew their audiences during the lockdowns.
“Everybody was blindsided by the pandemic,” he said. “Nobody thought that some global health pandemic was going to shut down the world, but then you realize, yeah, it can, but you still have to continue on working. It obviously affected millions and millions of people and I have friends that are touring comedians that are successful, but still had to sell their homes. So we got lucky that we had this fanbase and this outlet and our business actually grew during that time. I am extremely grateful for that.”
Segura is bilingual and one of his podcasts, “Tom Segura en Español,” began to take off pre-pandemic. He had started to tour and do shows all in Spanish and had a deal to film a Spanish comedy special in 2020, but it was put on the backburner because of the pandemic.
“I would still love to have it,” he said. “I think it would just take having the free time to do it, which right now, I have very little of.”
Tom Segura’s I’m Coming Everywhere World Tour
When: 7 pm Thursday, Sept. 22
Where: The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park, 200 Marina Park Way, San Diego
Tickets: $45-$75 at Ticketmaster.com