Before he was a successful comedian, radio/TV personality, and best-selling author, Adam Carolla dug ditches for a living. After graduating high school with a 1.75 GPA and dropping out of community college, he needed work. He was 18 and on his own, which meant sweeping construction sites, doing earthquake rehab, cleaning carpets, teaching boxing, and instructing traffic school. Hollywood was just down the road, but he didn't dream of stardom.
Carolla, who has just released President Me: The America That's in My Head, a pseudo-political treatise about engineering a less annoying society, took almost as long getting his construction career off the ground as rising to national stardom. He began as a day laborer picking up garbage, sweeping scraps, and stacking dry wall for $7-an-hour. His greatest achievement at the time was saving up $1,100 to buy a used Mazda pickup truck that had barstools where the bench seat had been and an 8-ball for a gearshift knob. He agreed to use it on a work site in exchange for a dollar-an-hour raise.
Carolla continued to work as a manual laborer until a gig hosting Loveline made him a household name in Los Angeles and, subsequently, nationwide. He got famous – The Adam Carolla Show set the Guinness world-record as the most-downloaded podcast of all time and his books In 50 Years We'll All Be Chicks and Not Taco Bell Material became best sellers – but he still enjoyed working with his hands. "I'm a good comedian," he says, "but I'm a great carpenter."
Carolla, who now hosts Catch a Contractor on Spike, gave Men's Journal some guidance on what men can do around the house to make sure they don't have to hire a contractor in the first place.
Update the Lightbulbs
"I love LED bulbs," Carolla says. "Forget about the compact fluorescents – that's going to be the 8-track of this new generation. Weird little knobs, like a little novelty item that existed in between records and CDs or cassettes."
LED bulbs are great for outdoor lighting and last 10 times longer than fluorescents. They are also the safer choice because they have to be replaced less often, which means you'll have fewer opportunities to fall off a ladder. The only downside is the price. Carolla says to "bite the bullet."
"You do it once, then walk away," he says. "It saves a ton of electricity."