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Comic Carl Kozlowski Finds Humor in Unexpected Places

The Radio Titans host opens up about his health struggles, realigning his career and the numerous life lessons learned along the way.

Comic Carl Kozlowski Finds Humor in Unexpected Places

The Radio Titans host opens up about his health struggles, realigning his career and the numerous life lessons learned along the way.

Nine years ago, Carl Kozlowski ’93 was disheartened. Health problems had landed him in the hospital at least 30 times in a dozen years, and the cycle was taking a toll on his quality of life and his ambition.

Los Angeles area arts editor and film critic Carl Kozlowski '93, photographed in the VIP Room of the iconic Hollywood Laugh Factory where he regularly performs stand-up comedy. Photo by Christine Gandolfo

Los Angeles-area arts editor and film critic Carl Kozlowski ’93, photographed in the VIP Room of the iconic Hollywood Laugh Factory where he regularly performs stand-up comedy. Photo by Christine Gandolfo

Nose surgery breathed new life into his health and career. Having lost about 100 pounds, he is enjoying the results of his hard work, persistence and never-give-up attitude.

An arts and entertainment writer and film critic, Kozlowski is on staff at Pasadena Weekly. He  freelances for the Catholic News Agency and other publications. Talkers.com named his podcast station, Radio Titans, among the 50 best talk radio outlets in the country.

A stand-up comic, Kozlowski has performed in some of the biggest clubs in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. Last year he founded Catholic Laughs, which produces clean and clever comedy shows for Catholic and other Christian audiences, and plans are underway to launch a secular division. Working with a Catholic production company, he is also pitching several TV shows around Hollywood.

Kozlowski was open about his health struggles, realigning his career and the numerous life lessons learned along the way.

Listen to your friends. I had been seeing a doctor but wasn’t getting the right care. It took me going on the road on a comedy tour with my friend and him freaking out when we had to share a hotel room and he heard my snoring. He said, “You’re letting yourself die, and if you don’t get this thing taken care of by the end of the year, I will never talk to you again.” So, I saw a specialist and had surgery the next week. And that’s also a funny story: I had an orderly named Blessed, a doctor-nurse team named Adam and Eve, and an anesthesiologist named Mrs. Butterworth — like the syrup. God just keeps putting these crazy things into my life.

Don’t ever think you’re too old. Nobody cares how old you are.

Carl Kozlowski has performed in some of the biggest clubs in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. Photo by Christine Gandolfo

Carl Kozlowski has performed in some of the biggest clubs in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. Photo by Christine Gandolfo

Be persistent. I have an insane number of good guests that have been on my podcast station, Radio Titans — Kevin Costner, Anjelica Huston, filmmakers, actors, comedians. I just politely try not to ever take “no” for an answer. I wanted Michael Rapaport really bad for an interview on my podcast. I showed up at three different screenings where he was talking and went up and said hey after every one of them. Finally, after the third time, they said yes. If you want something bad enough and if you’re polite about it, you’ll get what you’re after.

Lose the attitude. I worked in Chicago for eight years after TCU and made it pretty far in stand-up comedy. When I moved to LA, I stupidly had an entitled attitude. I finally got through my head that nobody owes me anything. I had to start over, accept starting over and humble myself.

You can’t be jealous of anyone else. If you want to make it, you have to figure out what your path is and just worry about you.

Being able to say “sit down and shut up” in different languages comes in handy.

Stop worrying about what the crowd thinks. Find your confidence. Mine is in writing. If you figure out what you’re good at and find your confidence, then it should carry over into any situation.

Carl Kozlowski is the founder and host of the Radio Titans Podcast. Photo by Christine Gandolfo

Carl Kozlowski is the founder and host of the Radio Titans podcast station. Photo by Christine Gandolfo

“Get out of your own way” is a phrase I picked up. I was sort of around the fringes of the comedy scene here until I got over my health problems, and I finally sat down and made a list of all the projects I wanted to get done. I decided, enough with excuses. Figure out what you want to do and figure out what’s getting in the way of that. All these things fall into place when you get out of your own way with all the distractions and bad decisions.

Point all your goals in the same direction. I was trying too much to be halfway in the Catholic/Christian scene and also be the “really cool” podcaster. I still don’t censor my podcast, but I did get rid of shows that I thought were putting me at odds with my image if I want to do something with churches. The second I started trying to line everything up with my real values, that’s when everything started flying.

Trust in the Lord and he will provide. Matthew 6:34 says don’t be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. That’s something that has always resonated with me. It’s a good reminder. I had a lot of worry when I was in the hospital so much all those years, but I always made it through. If God gives you a purpose, find that and direct your life toward it and things will open up for you.

Enjoy the life you’re living. I’ve had so many weird things happen to me. A friend said I should pray against serendipity. I’m like, “No! Someday it’s going to pay off!” A lot of my creative stuff is rooted in variations of odd experiences I’ve had. I just wake up in the morning and let life hit me.

Talkers.com named Car Kozlowski's podcast station, Radio Titans, among the 50 best talk radio outlets in the country. Photo by Christine Gandolfo

Talkers.com named Carl Kozlowski’s podcast station, Radio Titans, among the 50 best talk radio outlets in the country. Photo by Christine Gandolfo

Don’t automatically assume you can’t do what you want. Don’t be afraid of following what your heart really wants to do. If you want to follow the traditional American dream and climb a corporate ladder, that’s fine. But if you feel drawn to something more unusual, don’t be afraid of that either. If you’re doing what you love and you’re managing to survive, that’s success in itself. What I do is not a conventional way to make a living, but every day I enjoy what I’m doing. 

Find humor in life. For almost any problem in life or the day-to-day stuff we get upset about, you just have to resolve not to let things hit you in a terrible way. Look for the humor and how you can laugh it off. For me it comes fairly naturally. It’s a matter of how you look at things.

— As told to Rachel Stowe Master

Edited for clarity and length.