HOLLYWOOD -- As a young man, Adam Carolla believed ''something" -- preferably memorable and funny -- would break for him in show business by the time he was 30. He was wrong.
At the time, the best work from the born-in-Philly, raised-in-LA carpenter-turned-comedian was appearing on local floors, walls, and roofs, not on national radio and television programs; the closest he was coming to the big time on a regular basis was listening to talk radio as he pounded nails or spread roof tar.
''I'd be at someone's house or be up on the roof all day and I'd get lonely -- stir crazy -- and talk radio became this soothing voice in my life," said Carolla, who especially enjoyed morning drive-time shows. ''But the idea that I was making $10 an hour and stacking drywall while these guys were making a few hundred thousand, and they were having a party, and there were Playmates and there were good times, I just couldn't imagine it.
''I had two thoughts about it," he added. ''One was 'I could do that,' and the next one was 'I'll never get to do that.' "
He was wrong again. Today, after becoming known largely as a comedic counterweight to radio and television partners, Carolla has become a hot Hollywood property on his own.
Earlier this month, the 41-year-old known for his mix of crude humor and edgy wit launched ''Too Late With Adam Carolla" on cable's Comedy Central. In October, he rolls out a program on cable's TLC, a home improvement show called ''The Adam Carolla Project," in which he buys and rehabs his childhood home in North Hollywood.
Most impressive -- or perhaps daunting -- may be that Carolla is poised to take over for shock jock Howard Stern in key California markets late this year or early next. While he said nothing has been signed yet with Infinity Broadcasting, whose contract with Stern expires at the end of the year, Carolla acknowledged that a deal is imminent. (Infinity spokeswoman Karen Mateo would say only that ''there is no announcement at this time.")
For a guy who's on record as despising a heavy workload -- he once quipped, ''Figure out what you wanna do, then take a nap" -- Carolla is doing a good imitation of a workaholic. Some wonder if he will be able to multitask between mediums.
''Historically, it's been hard to make the transition from radio to television and from television to radio. They involve different psychologies," said Michael Harrison, editor of the radio industry magazine Talkers. ''But he's a talented guy, and I think this is a smart way for him to go."
So far the TV show's initial ratings haven't exactly blown up the late-night landscape, attracting less than 1 percent of the 18- to 49-year-old late-night audience share, according to Comedy Central.
The critics have been mixed as well. They generally praise Carolla's satirical abilities but knock his penchant for base humor that frequently relies upon crude insults and jokes about masturbation and homosexuality. Comedy Central has committed to airing three months of the show.
''I know this show is never going to have mass appeal," Carolla said. ''I'm fine with that. We're not going to be Ford or GM over here, we're going to be Saab. But that's OK; they have dedicated owners."