Probably summer camp, when I was around six years old. I did the “talent” show as The Unknown Comic, bag over my head and everything. I’m guessing I did a bunch of fart jokes and knocked on the cafeteria—nothing groundbreaking—but it worked, and I was hooked. From then on I was the class clown; always getting in trouble for cracking jokes when I shouldn’t, and generally at the teacher’s expense. I didn’t take the stage, however...
...until after college. I graduated with a degree in English, which doesn’t make you too employable, so I went to an open mic night. Suddenly I was six again. I hadn’t done any comedy since the talent show (Summer Camp), but I always enjoyed watching comedy. Suddenly it wasn’t something other people do, but something I thought I’d take a shot at. I actually did really, really well my first time up, and thought, “Hey, I can do this!”
Then I tanked my next four or five outings. Heh.
What comics did you watch as a kid?
Pryor, and Carlin. I was too young to get most of what they were doing, but as a product of the 70s, that’s who was out there. This is before they were Gods; they were just comedians. I saw “Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip” in the theater at age 10.
Probably shouldn’t have, but I convinced my mom it would be OK. Before that, I was able to con my grandmother into buying me George Carlin’s Class Clown. It had been out for several years, but I had no idea what it was. I just liked the cover: a man picking his nose. That was hilarious to me. Once I listened to it, however... holy shit. Yeah, I was hooked, and in way over my five-year-old head. Following them was Robin Williams. Mork & Mindy hit the airwaves, and I was hooked. Robin was the first comedian I ever saw live. That would have been somewhere around 1987 or 88.
Whoever I’m working with. I don’t watch comedy on TV anymore, and I don’t really listen to comedy CDs. Because I’m always working, I’m always meeting new people, and seeing new comics. It’s a nice existence. Beyond that, with memes taking off, I see new comedians from the comfort of my own home. It's nice. Hopefully I'll bump into many of them on the road.
Now that twitter is becoming an entire art form in and of itself, how much time do you spend working on Twitter material versus stand up material?
I don’t really spend time writing for either; I've never been able to sit down and write or work on comedy. Something either strikes me as amusing, or it doesn't. I’m not sure if that’s good, or bad, by the way. I’d like to be able to sit down and write, but I've also been told that people who write constantly would prefer to be “inspired,” for lack of a better word. What I’ve found is that news topics work (for me) better on Twitter, and life experiences translate to the stage more easily. Hopefully that makes sense.
Personally, I hate Reddit because people are much quicker to criticize jokes and tell you exactly how and why you suck. Do you even look at that stuff, or do you just post a joke and forget about it?
I generally post a joke and forget about it for the reasons you listed. I don’t mind criticism, but there’s nothing helpful about “You suck.” I can post the same joke on reddit and tumblr and see wildly different results. On reddit it will get downvoted and criticized; on tumblr it will be reblogged 3,000 times. I’ve also been lucky enough to have great success on reddit, but even then I (mostly) ignore the comments. If someone offers a compliment, I try and thank them, because I enjoy kindness. But when the trolls come out with personal attacks and better-than-thou attitudes I tune out.
Not too distant future (i.e. I'd like to be doing shows on the road in the next year or so)
Dreamin' Big (i.e. Do you want to do a movie someday or are you a pure stand up who dreams of Carnegie Hall?)
I’ve never had the acting bug. I’m not sure I’d be any good at it. No, I’m pure stand up. To me, dreaming big is barely different from dreaming little: I’d just like this whole gig to get easier, and bigger. Doing theaters would be really, really, really nice. The ability to just headline everywhere—A list clubs like The Improv included/especially—being the goal.
Problem is: You have to be a celebrity to be a big name headliner. So, if I’m not interested in acting, how do I do that? I’ve begun writing. I’ve got two full-length books out, and a slew of mini-eBooks for the Kindle.
(^That's a link, heh)
I wouldn’t say David Sedaris is an idol, but it’s a goal. He performs in theaters, and it’s all thanks to his wits and abilities. My fingers are crossed.
Last but not least, tell me your worst bombing story.
I've got two, both corporate shows/Christmas (politically correct “holiday”) Parties.
At the first, they just stared at me with evil eyes for the entire sixty-minutes I was on stage. No matter what I did, they glared. It was only after I finished was I told that right before I went up, literally right before my introduction, it was announced that instead of a raffle for a television or other nice items, they blew the “prize” budget on me. “No gifts for you this year, instead: a comedian!” So, yeah. They hated me outright.
The second bombing was just a few months ago.
More often than not, when you do a corporate party you’re told to be clean. Really clean. Squeaky clean. This group asked me to give them an edgy, R-rated show. It was for a Union, so I figured “Blue collar, salt of the earth” folks. I was right, but only for 10% of the audience. The other 90% were geriatric people somewhere between the ages of 70 and 90. Maybe two tables—ten people in total—of the hospice crowd liked me, but the rest? Hell to the no. One by one they shuffled out the door; they couldn’t even wait until I was finished to leave. Once you reach a certain age, manners no longer matter, and you do whatever the fuck you want, the feelings of others be damned. After it was over, the guy who hired me admitted he may have made a mistake.
It took all my effort to not respond with a very sarcastic, “Ya think?”
Check out Nathan Timmel's website, and buy some of his books on Amazon, they're really great so don't be a bunch of cheap fucks O.K.?
By: Jim Capie