(Long Island, N.Y.) Confession: I always wanted to do stand-up comedy. And if I wasn’t too darn chicken, I think I’d be pretty darn good at it. What’s it like to get up there in front of a crowd? Find your groove in the comedy circuit? Make a room full of strangers LOL? I asked two local comics to chime in.
What made you decide you wanted to be a comedian?
It’s something I’ve always wanted to do since I was younger. I grew up in front of the TV watching everything from Sesame Street, reruns of I love Lucy , and Three’s Company. I really enjoyed watching every comedy special HBO ever ran. The biggest and best comics always seemed to be from Rodney Dangerfield’s Young Comedian HBO Specials. This is where you would see the comics who really pushed the envelope and who you would never see on Carson. That’s where Andrew Dice Clay got his biggest introduction to me and really blew everyone away and helped lead to his first hour HBO special and becoming one of the biggest comedy stars of the 80’s, one of the few people to sell out the Garden.
Were you always funny as a kid?
Na, as a kid I think I was more shy and awkward. I wasn’t much into doing my homework which lead to what I saw as a sentence to a long term Special Ed Career. I really had no respect for the teacher the way they talked down to me like I was stupid so I would talk down to them and just be a complete wise-ass in class I guess as a self defense. It was really hard to stay awake in class because I would stay awake to watch Johnny Carson and then David Letterman every night.
So what did your friends and family say when you told them you were doing that first show? Supportive? Skeptical?
Ironically it’s so hard to make money or to do well my parents just always wanted me to get a “real” job and move to Florida. My friends are always supportive. My first time on stage for stand-up was 1995 at Stand-up NY.
So what’s it like getting up there in front of the crowd for the first time?
I’ve never been shy or scared about getting on stage but neurotic to such an extreme that I wanted every joke to work. I never wanted to bomb or I never wanted any joke to bomb. I started writing anything I could for like 2 years before I ever stepped on stage. But the first time on stage was fun just to make them laugh and get up.
How did you get started in your career in comedy?
My first time on stage like I said before 1995 then for like 1996-2002 I went pretty consistently on stage every week wherever I could. I ran my first open mic at Ed’s Bay Pub in Patchogue in 1997. Stage time is always a challenge and quality stage time. I started hosting at an open mic in 2000 at the Gateway Comedy Club that was located at the Medford Inn. Which lead to some paid hosting gigs for the owner of the shows. That’s when my parents decided to move to Florida and leave me all alone at the ripe young age of 28. My friend got me involved in this business that rhymes with spam-way. From 2002-2007 I really didn’t do too much comedy except for maybe a month in between.
In 2007 I decided I wanted to perform again and do it for me for the fun and love of it. Create perform enjoy. Since then I hosted Long Island’s Funniest person contest at McGuire’s Comedy Club in 2008 and 2009. I became the co-host of two different Podcast. One was called Nobodylistensus.com and another called hatespeechradio.com modeled after an uncensored shock-jock format with my comedian friends and now married couple David Harris and Heather Height. I performed all over Long Island, NJ, PA, CT, upstate NY and NYC. I now produce my own shows at 3 different clubs on Long Island – The Brokerage ,Governors, and McGuire’s. One of the biggest highlights is performing and opening for The Legend Revered Bob Levy.
What’s your day job?
Right now I’m working at Wal-Mart for the third time.
Do you mine that for funny material?
I honestly try not to look for funny. I try to look for the honesty and the pain and that’s where the funny usually comes. Yes of course who loves their job? Even people who do love their jobs have to put up with a lot of #$@! that you don’t love. On my Hiatus from comedy I stepped into an open mic at a bar and saw a “comic” doing my jokes word for word.
Can you tell me about your next upcoming show?
Sunday, February 26th at 8pm at the Legendary Brokerage Comedy Club in Bellmore, NY we have a show. It’s going to have some of the unique and funniest talent from Long Island. Hosting the show is Heather Height from Opie and Anthony and featuring is me, Evan Weiss, Kathy Arnold, Mort Barry, James O’Donnell, Jimmy Farrel, Patrick Taylor, Christan Zee and headlining is Danny Lofaro. Dan is a winner of Long Island’s Funniest Person Contest 2006 and has performed all over the country including the Comedy Works in PA. Come on out for a great show www.brokeragecomedy.com. For reservations call 516-781-5233.
What made you decide you wanted to be a comedian?
Not an easy one to pinpoint. It may have been my early school antics, getting kicked out of class for making the class laugh. Making faces, physical humor, a small quip here and there. It was by no means wanting for the lime light, or become a star. My early exposure to comedy: George Carlin, Sid Ceaser, Mel Brooks, Bill Cosby, Jerry Lewis, and of course, Monty Python, I guess rubbed off on me in some way. The one that stands out is George Carlin, of all the comics, I can certainly say his act, his approach, his way with words struck a chord in me.
Were you always funny as a kid?
Funny? Well, I got kicked out of class on a number of occasions, not sure how funny the teacher thought I was being. However, I never did anything malicious, I made small jokes, physical humor that made the other students laugh. It disrupted the class, so, out I went.
What was your friends and family’s reaction when you told them you were venturing into comedy?
When I told my friends that I started doing stand-up most said, “That makes sense” or “I can see that.” Now, even though my parents were a huge fan of comedy, and exposed me to the greats early on, having one of their sons seemingly commit to it long-term was a big difference. While I was out in LA they asked how everything was going, with a hint of worried skepticism. They never disparaged me though. I think, as any parent would, mine just didn’t want to see me go off on a path that there was no return from if things did not pan out. Now that I am back in NY, and 10 years later, their fears have diminished to a great degree. Having them see me perform in Los Angeles was definitely a highlight.
What was it like getting up there in front of the crowd for the first time?
Painful. I pretty much bombed my first year doing stand up. After that, I started to find my voice, my direction. I’m still working on both.
How would you describe your comedy?
Thought-provoking, hard-hitting, and extremely topical. Actually, it’s none of those things. I draw my material from dates, dating, other personal experiences, and family stories/activities. An example of this: for the past 20 years or so, I’ve been helping my parents’ setup and store their patio furniture.
What started as a loose premise quickly became my closing joke. I fashioned it as my suburban World’s Strongest Man competition, with my parents giving the commentary. My father commenting on how strong I was, while my mother mentioning she doesn’t have grandkids yet. (Hi Mom!) I actually had a couple of people come up to me after a show to tell me they just visited their parents to do the exact same thing. Talk about things that happen in your family, chances are others have shared the same experiences.
Can you tell me a little about your experience in comedy?
My history is a bit disjointed. I actually started stand up in Houston, TX. Spent a year on stage in Houston, then moved to Los Angeles. Within 2 weeks of moving to LA I auditioned for and was accepted into the Groundings improv school. The Groundlings is the improv school in LA, and one of the top in the country, so to say the least, I was extremely excited. I completed three out of four levels there, not bad. All-the-while, I was also doing stand up. I was fortunate enough to do shows at The Comedy Store, Laugh Factory, and Ice House. Among countless coffee houses, and any open mic night that offered a comic a place to try out new material. After nearly 5 years in LA, I moved back to NY to be closer to family and friends. Now, after an eight year hiatus, I’ve decided to go back to stand-up. At my first show back at Gotham Comedy Club it was as if I never took a break. It felt very natural to be on stage. The audience laughed at my entire set, it was a good night.
Even though I never made it to TV, some of the people I did shows with in LA did make it to Saturday Night Live, Mad TV, and various TV shows and movies. Not name dropping, but very cool to be that close to people that made it.
What’s your day job? Do you mine that for funny material?
I’m an interactive designer by day. Or in other words, a web designer. Actually, a bulk of my material is about my dating experiences since being back in NY. That, and peppered with family/friends makes for a good connection to the audience.
Tell me about your next upcoming show
My next show is at the Metropolitan Room in NYC: Friday, February 10th at 9:30pm.