His jokes are powered by a manic energy coupled with quick, acerbic wit.
To the casual observer, Todd Glass appears as if he could perform stand-up for days and never run out of topics.
Kmart. The dynamics of relationships. Being compared to famous actors.
“I had a girl once tell me I look like John Goodman,” Glass says as he sets up one of his more well-known bits.
“I know it upset me because it happened 10 years ago and I haven’t shut up about it . . . She goes, ‘Oh no, a young, thin John Goodman. Young and thin.’ That doesn’t make me feel any better.”
Throughout his act, Glass, who begins a four-night stand at the D.C. Improv on Thursday, oscillates between different facial expressions and hand gestures, bringing each of his bits to life. He also has a penchant for launching angry rants, not afraid to call out society’s faux pas, from racial insensitivity to bad personal hygiene.
Even infomercials can’t escape his comedic wrath.
“It seems like the later you’re up, the more every advertiser thinks you have a problem,” Glass says in another bit. “Sometimes I’m just up late. They come on with ads at four in the morning, ‘Do you have genital herpes?’ . . . ‘No, I’m just not tired.’ ”
Over the last decade, Glass, 47, has become a familiar name in the stand-up world, aided by two appearances on NBC’s “Last Comic Standing.”
A native of Paoli, Pa., he began performing stand-up in Philadelphia while he was still in high school. After seven years on the Philly scene, he moved to Los Angeles in 1990 with just a car, his clothes and a thousand bucks. For his first two years out there, Glass stayed with the parents of a friend.
He still makes his home in L.A., and things have been going well lately. Glass has recorded an hour-long special for Comedy Central, which he says will air at some point in 2012. This past fall, he launched a podcast called “The Todd Glass Show,” which is generating 50,000 downloads a week, even though it’s in its nascent stages.
He also shot a pilot called “Dinner with Todd,” which features various comics coming over to Glass’s home for — yes — dinner.
Earlier this year, Glass made headlines for a reason other than his stand-up. In January, Glass called his friend Marc Maron, host of the popular “WTF” podcast, and asked if he could appear on the show. There was something he had to get off his chest.
Glass wanted to come out of the closet.
It was a decision he wrestled with for years, he admits: “There were two main reasons that I decided to come out.
“First, it was better for my soul. I knew it was a good thing for me to do. There are many people who are both young and old who are in the same position. Now, I don’t think that everyone has to go and come out. It’s something that you need to do when you are ready and comfortable.”
There was another reason he decided to come out, however: He felt he had a responsibility to do so after stories about LGBT youths committing suicide became ubiquitous over the past few years.
“There were these kids who were killing themselves left and right and it began to bother me,” he says. “I thought, ‘I’ve got to (come out), because if I’m not going to, them I’m just validating that it’s something you need to keep in.’ ”
After appearing on “WTF,” Glass says, his friends and many other people he knew were “overwhelmingly receptive.”
“People don’t understand why it’s something that you hide,” he says. “For me, it started at a very young age and you get comfortable with it. Then you think, ‘I’ve lied this long, I need to keep going with it.’ ”
Since appearing on Maron’s podcast, Glass says that his life has been marked by a sense of peacefulness.
“It’s really made life easy,” he admits. “It’s shown people that ‘Hey, I’m gay, but you know, I’m still a regular guy, just like everyone else.’ ”
performs Thursday through Sunday at
D.C. Improv, 1140 Connecticut Ave. NW. (202) 296-7008, firstname.lastname@example.org.