the grub street diet

Comedian Shane Torres Chases Workouts With Popeyes

“I know it’s New York and I am supposed to go eat an endive salad after, but fuck it.”

Shane Torres at Vida Verde. Photo: Mark Abramson
Shane Torres at Vida Verde. Photo: Mark Abramson

You have probably heard Shane Torres’s genius-level defense of Guy Fieri — our friends at Vulture called the stand-up’s bit one of the last decade’s best moments in comedy — and maybe you’ve also watched Torres wonder why everything bagels are the same price as plain (“Name another thing where the deluxe model costs the same as the base model!”), or seen his food series, How Good Can It Get. Turns out, food isn’t just part of his act: “I have this terrible habit of going and working out, and then just getting the worst fucking food after,” Torres says. This week, he found himself unable to resist the siren song of Popeyes, grabbed a Little Debbie’s Nutty Buddy (“No other Little Debbie even comes close”), and found a tuna melt the size of Shaq’s hand (“this all can’t be from the same tuna”). You can read all about it in this week’s Grub Street Diet.

Thursday, January 9
I woke up around 8:30 a.m., which might as well be sunrise for me. Having just purchased a brand-new, expensive mattress and bedding, I don’t mind being up so early. I don’t want to brag, but there was almost a comma in the price. I spent the night before with some friends drinking at the Palace in Greenpoint and I was not quite as hungover as I had anticipated, so I already got a point on the board. I was thinking to myself that my New Year’s resolution about being more aware of what I am putting in my body — food, drugs, booze — is going better than anticipated.

My friend Anastasia was coming over with coffee and to work on stuff with me while I made breakfast, so I unlocked my door, emptied my butt, crawled back into bed, and rewatched episodes of New Girl. I call it getting Schmidt-faced. So far my resolution to not rewatch things is going terribly.

Anastasia came over with coffee as promised and then spilled it on my FUCKING BED! My brand new GODDAMN BED! I got up and we pulled the sheets off and threw them in the wash. I then made Anastasia apologize on video about my bed’s first stain not being a sex one and put it on my Instagram.

For breakfast, I made eggs over easy on butter-fried toast with Greek yogurt, granola, blueberries, almonds, and honey. I pounded coffee and paid bills for the next few hours while texting with my friend Kyle Kinane. I looked in the bathroom sink and realized I left some spiced almonds in there after brushing my teeth. Gross. It’s not a metaphor for anything, it’s just super-gross.

After breakfast I went to the gym for two hours and made a smoothie.

That night, I had four shows. One was at New York Comedy Club, one of the best clubs in the city, after which I bolted over to the Cellar, the greatest comedy club in the world. I know NY folks will read this and think I know, but it is to comedy what the Guggenheim is to art and by the way comedy is art.

Then I jumped on the B train to Dekalb Market Hall for a show underneath a food court for a benefit my friend Vanessa Peruda put on. I bombed and ate my nuts which was the only snack I had since my smoothie.

Called an Uber to get to my fourth spot of the night, Hart Bar. When I got there, MB — a friend from when I lived in Portland — was onstage. Room was half full. Did my set and it went well. My buddy Will from Colorado was here for some reason and we talked and had drinks for hours. I had not had a real meal since breakfast. Some other friends at the show who are also neighbors said, “Let’s have another cocktail in the ’hood.” I live in Bed-Stuy, so we went to Turtles All the Way Down and polished them off. It had been hours since food entered my body unless you count vodka as potatoes.

We had an immense amount of cocktails.

I got back to my place a shade after ten drinks, brushed my teeth vigorously after putting down two handfuls of almonds — I mean dinner. At 4:11 a.m., I thought, Jesus Christ, how am I alive?

Friday, January 10
Noon. I woke up hungover and had to make a few calls that lasted forever. I’ll tell you this: If you ever want to make a hangover worse, you can do it by having someone tell you to post on your Instagram more about your shows in Syracuse. Every call was longer than the last one and the only thing that gave me solace was my new bed, even though it still smelled like a barista that worked a double thanks to the Anastasia spill.

I got up and had some more yogurt and granola and then decided to go to the gym to sweat out some of the booze.

After my workout I tried to resist the temps of Popeyes but I couldn’t and slammed a two-piece biscuit with a strawberry Fanta. Popeyes is the best fast-food chicken joint in New York until Bojangles comes to New York. I know it’s New York and I am supposed to go eat an endive salad after, but fuck it, I love Popeyes.

I ran home, scrubbed up, and jumped on the train to meet my friend Emily Panic for dinner before we went to see David Motherfucking Byrne on Broadway. I had carnitas and we shared guacamole at Vida Verde. We each had three tamarind margaritas, too, to get a little merry before the show.

We bolted out of the restaurant and made our way into the stream of open-faced cod that fill Time Square. It was so much fucking warmer than I had anticipated and I was sweating my ass off.

We got to the show, cooled off a bit, and I got a beer and she had red wine in a can. My friends are classy. The show was the best thing I had seen since John Wick 3 and I’m considering going back another time.

We jumped on the train, and Emily still had some canned wine left so we drank it while we made our way down to the Village. I had a 1:40 a.m. set at the Cellar, but as we were walking to a bar I ran into my friend who seemed nervous. They told me they were going to sell drugs to another comic and that’s why they had a weird energy. I told them to meet us for a drink. They did when we ended up at MacDougal Street Ale House and had a few more cocktails. They mostly made fun of me. Emily jumped in her Uber and texted me later that she was frying a chicken thigh and watching 10 Things I Hate About You.

Around 12:30 a.m., my friend who will remain nameless and I went to FBPC and had two drinks and talked about how neither of us date. We ate wings and I walked her to the train. Then I rolled into the Cellar for my first and last set of the night at 1:40 a.m. This might actually be the latest spot in the city which kind of feels cool now that I recognize it. It’s pretty fucking great.

After, I stopped at Ben’s Pizzeria for a slice of pizza and then jumped in my Uber and canceled an appointment to look at a new place. I crawled into my new bed and I am honestly so in love with it I am thinking about naming it. If anyone has any good bed names, my ears are open.

Saturday, January 11
At 11 a.m., I woke up in New Bed. Yeah, I am calling it New Bed till I settle on a name. Got up to go meet my friend Terry Thomas, a great comic from Alabama.

We had a coffee at Hungry Ghost and I loaded mine with sugar and cream. Hyper-disappointment after I found out they were out of breakfast tacos. As a Texan, these are a sacred meal and I let out a yelp. I resisted the temptation to scream something along the lines of “You’re out or you’re keeping them for your GODDAMN SELF!” Instead, I said, “Oh then just the coffee, thank you.” Then I complimented their shirt.

Terry and I walked and talked bullshit for an hour and decided to get something to eat at this German brunch place. Biscuits and bratwurst sausage gravy with poached eggs. Fucking awful. Seemed like a combination that would be awesome, like Michael and Scottie, but it turned out it was more like an unflushable turd.

I gave Terry a big hug and told him I was going to the gym.

At 3:30 p.m., I really went home and slept till 7 p.m.


I got up and walked to my bodega to get a giant bottle of water and a Little Debbie Nutty Buddy bar. My all-time favorite. No other Little Debbie even comes close. If you think Oatmeal Pies are a treat, you are the community college of people.

My first set was at the Parkside Lounge. I got to the show and asked to go up first and got a soda water. I was determined to not drink on this night. I did my set and and it was the definition of fucking average. That’s what will get me to the next level of the career.

Had time before my next set, so I stopped at Remedy Diner. I got a tuna melt that was slightly bigger than Shaq’s hand, and thought, This all can’t be from the same tuna. I ordered onion rings on the side and put ketchup on the side with a pool of Cholula in the center with pepper and salt sprinkled on top.

I ate as much as I could and watched the Ravens get destroyed in a loss nobody really saw coming. This was while the guy next to me talked about how much money he was losing and the guy on my left hit on a gal at the countertop. He was from the same town as me in Texas, and he was laying it on pretty goddamn thick.

She was buying it and I left before I threw up the $13 of tuna melt I forced down and jumped on the M21 bus to go to the Cellar.

There was no one on the bus but me, and this is a thing I love. Feels like you are in a working-class limo.

Around 12:30 a.m., I walked around the corner to my set at the Village Underground, also owned by the Cellar. I saw my buddy JFOD on my way over and asked him to watch my set and see what he thought of something I was working on.

Did my spot and talked to JFOD about my new bit. We agreed to go to yoga in the morning. Yeah, I do yoga. It’s not all binge-drinking and late-night stand-up sets.

I went home and stopped at my bodega. Picked up yogurt and blueberries for the morning and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and a Snickers for the night, along with a Hal’s watermelon-flavored seltzer. I used to hate Hal’s — I think it’s because it almost has no flavor — but it has grown on me.

I walked home eating some of the chips and saw my neighbor Jimmy. He told me I’ve lost a lot of weight. I got in and threw the chips in the trash because of Jimmy. Ate half the Snicker and brushed my teeth.

Crawled into New Bed, resisted the temptation to eat trash Cheetos. I didn’t, but mostly because I was so tired.

Sunday, January 12
I woke up running behind and had a coffee, banana, and mushroom-fontina croissant from Mike & Pull. I got to yoga early and beat JFOD. The class was packed with people and I was by far the worst. It was only my third class and every bit of it showed as I perspired and agonized about how everyone was clearly looking at me. Why would anyone go to yoga to focus on themselves?

After class I had a cinnamon roll and some quiche in the café next door, Kávé Espresso Bar, with JFOD. I have noticed, by the way, that all the exercise I have done is for no real reason at all. I then had a call and had to excuse myself to talk with my friends about a show idea we are trying to pitch.

I talked with JFOD about a dilemma he is dealing with and we walked to another coffee shop, Bake Shop, where I had my first taste of Beyond Meat. It was covered in peppers and pastry similar to a kolache, so I couldn’t tell if it’s actually good, but I really enjoyed it.

At home, I had more coffee and worked on the show I have, Good God, with three other comics at the Turks Inn. We talked on the phone and we got a very exciting special guest for the next show we are not allowed to announce, but she is a Brooklyn/New York favorite. Then I figured out that all my press releases I sent out had the wrong date and screamed out loud for ten minutes. Clearly I am a dumb fuck and all those people at yoga knew it from the start.

Went to the Cellar for my first spot. I had dinner with my buddy and roommate Sam Evans. We talked about a variety of different horse shit. I ordered a side salad and some chicken skewers with couscous. This is all food I am trying to eat instead of 7-11 taquitos in an effort to lose weight and not look like the human equivalent of a beanbag chair.

Sam ordered a chicken cutlet and my mouth was literally watering looking at it with a mountain of mashed potatoes on the side. There was grilled asparagus next to it, which seemed like a waste of space considering the rest of the plate. I told Sam I got to go.

I went to IFC to see Parasite with the friend who was selling drugs the night before. I met her there and got my Reese’s and Cherry Coke. That was a fucking movie!

I ran back to the Cellar and performed. Had a great set and worked over the bit that JFOD and I had talked about the night before. It was coming together, which helps me feel better about the rest of my act. I rode the train home with my friend JJ. She had booze in her water bottle and as we got to my stop I realized I hang out with a lot of rad ladies who drink on trains.

Monday, January 13
Coffee, granola, blueberries, and yogurt: the only healthy thing I did this day.

Then went to therapy and I actually had a good session but still managed to cry later about my station in life. I stopped and got an egg-salad sandwich, if you were wondering how white trash I can be. Then I ate on the subway and made direct eye contact with whomever was willing to look into the abyss that my eyes were in this shameful moment. Nothing like the piss smell of the G train and egg salad to disturb someone.

I got to the gym, did my new workout and jump-roped. I got home, ate the remaining lone spicy almond, and then ordered drunken noodles from this place Golden Thai. Who the fuck gets that sober?

I ran to a party at the Stand, with the good people at the Moontower Comedy Festival in Austin who are in town, and had a drink, then took an Uber to West 77th and Broadway to go to a holiday party at Stand Up NY. I had a few drinks and ran down to the cellar for my late set and talked with my buddy, the hilarious Adrienne Iapalucci, and then ordered my standby at the Cellar: the Mediterranean Platter (baba, hummus, cucumber salad, tabouli, pita, grape leaves, and feta) with chicken skewers. But as I was enjoying my meal the manager told me I was going up early. I had a very fun set with a belly full of food.

The best thing about the late-night spots is that you get to go to bed with that satisfaction. I was about to leave after talking with my friend Cipha Sounds and said, “I’m getting a treat.” Cipha said, “What are you getting?” I said, “Candy bar or baklava. Not sure,” and he said, “Get a baklava — you can get a candy bar anywhere.” He was right. I went next door to Mamoun’s and grabbed one.

I honestly don’t know if I have made a better purchase in my whole life.

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