Someone asked me to answer some questions about doing comedy for a school project, so I thought I’d post the questions and answers here since I’m a narcissistic bastard. Oh, and before you send me an e-mail to tell me that no one cares, believe me, I already know that.

Here are some questions-

How old were you when you first started to want to become a comedian?

I’ve always enjoyed comedy and entertaining people, but I didn’t realize I wanted to do stand-up comedy until I was 28.

Did your parents/friends approve?

Friends have been mostly supportive, and my family treats it as a hobby of mine. I don’t think they approve, but they’re not going to overtly say so.

How did you get started?

I took a class taught by headlining comedian Dante ( I originally took the class just to have something fun to do and to help with some radio work that I do, but once he pushed me on stage, I fell in love with it- I’ve been addicted ever since.

Why did you want to become a comedian?

It’s a difficult thing to make someone laugh when you’re a comic, but incredibly rewarding. Nowhere else do I have an outlet for being a smartass, social critic, and a place to rant about my day. Once I hit the stage the first time and got laughs at stuff I had written, it was a great feeling- now I just really want to earn a living making people laugh.

What was the job like in the beginning?

When I first started it was rough- this is a business in which failure is what teaches you more than success does. You drive from place to place to work for free, but you get to hone an act that will hopefully pay off in the long run. It’s both scary and exhilarating at the same time when you start. You spend a lot of time wondering how an audience will react to you as well as your jokes- it’s all about getting a roomful of strangers to think of you as their court jester, and show their appreciation for the moments of levity you give them. As I have done this longer the fear is much less than it was at the start- but I don’t know if it will ever dissipate completely.

Was there ever a time that you got so discouraged you considered quitting?

No- I LOVE being on stage. Someone will have to drag me away kicking and screaming to get me to stop. There have been rough patches, but what you do is just get on stage more often, because once you have a good show again it wipes all the bad ones out of your mind. You’re only as good as your last set, so if it’s a bad one, you want to erase it as soon as possible.

What was your first show like?

My first show was fun- I did it in a really supportive room, and I got more laughs than I was expecting. I was nervous, and told a bunch of stories I don’t use anymore. I actually did pretty well in terms of audience reaction- lots of laughs for me as a new guy. It was the next 50-100 shows that were really rough. Once you’re not the new guy anymore, the audience isn’t going to take it easy on you, and you really need to earn their respect.

How often are you on the road?

Not as often as I’d like. Lately it’s been once a month or so, but I’d like to crank that up. I’m working on getting a pretty solid feature level set that I can use to do some real road work (and hopefully make some $$$).

How long does it take for you to prepare for a show?

It all depends on the show. For big shows, I take 10-15 minutes ahead of time to review my act, get myself psyched up, and run through how I see the show going. For more informal events, I don’t really prepare much other than writing down a quick list of the bits I want to work on. But in terms of other preparation, you’re always preparing- everything you say is a potential joke, so it takes discipline to write down things you say off the cuff to a friend and find a way to incorporate it into your act. As a comic, you’re always preparing.

How do you prepare for a show?

When on the road, you talk to the locals a bit to find out what’s the hot topic in town. You definitely want to touch on whatever is going on, and find a way to work the local town, stores, TV stations, etc. into your act. You take bits that might be about a generic situation, and set them at a local place and the people seem to really appreciate that you took the time to notice their town. Then when at the venue, I take 10-15 minutes before I go on to stretch, run through my material in my head, and visualize the audience responding positively. This all helps to psych me up for the show.

Have you made many fellow comedian friends? Do you guys share ideas?

Absolutely- comedians are now the bulk of my friends. Hanging out with them is the best part of the business. Sharing ideas I do on a daily basis. As I see someone, if I think of something funny they can add, I tell them, and they usually do the same for me. Feedback from other comics and advice from those with careers well ahead of mine is invaluable.

When and how did you get your “big break”?

Well, I haven’t had one yet- I trust that I will at some point in the future, but even if I don’t and I wind up doing small shows the rest of my life, I’ll be happy as long as I can get to a point where I do comedy full time to earn a living.

How many comedians do you think will get be very successful?

This depends on the definition of success. Very few will reach the heights of fame and fortune, but many out there can earn a living. There are probably a couple thousand comics that earn a living at it in the US right now. For every one of them, there are probably a hundred others trying to claw their way to the top. I hope to be one of that small number soon.

Are there any stories that stick out throughout the year that you’re willing to share?

A while ago I was at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles hanging out with some comics- one of whom has a bit of a drinking problem. He had seen one of the comics that was on the show that night perform at a small venue two nights before, where he had gone all out and just killed the audience. This night, you could tell he was going through the motions, and my drunken friend remarked on this, and how he was really appreciative of it. As e were leaving, right on Sunset Blvd., he babbled something about how he was so in awe of what he had seen a couple nights before, the only way he knew to show his appreciation was to…drop his pants. And he did. And his underwear. So he’s standing on Sunset with his pants around his ankles. These things are not done by normal people.

What’s what your worst show like? Best?

My worst show was probably just 3 weeks ago- I was hosting a show, and as the MC it’s your job to set up the audience so that the other comics can make them laugh. The crowd was very small- and they all heckled me mercilessly. I couldn’t get two words out without them shouting something at me. But as MC, I couldn’t attack them back, because the other comics had a right to be heard by an audience, and I didn’t want o chase them out of the room. So I felt like I had to take the heckling and not respond, and that’s just a miserable feeling.

Best show- not sure, but the most fun I’ve had was probably getting to really rip into a heckler once. He was drunk and loud at the bar, and I called him on it, and he was really upset- I was happy that I got him so flustered that at one point he threatened me by challenging me not to fight, but to arm wrestle. He then challenged me to bowl against him, and eventually walked away saying, “Stop comedianing me!” Drunk people can be fun.

What is your favorite part of being a comedian? Why?

I love making an audience laugh- I’m working lately on material that is closer to things I really care about, and I’m looking forward to influencing the opinions of the audience more than I do now. But the feeling of power you get when standing on a stage with everyone staring at you, then you deliver and make them laugh is the best feeling in the world. OK, not as good as a blowjob- but mighty close.

What advice do you have to give for young aspiring comedians?

My advice- get on stage as often as possible. Learn how doing comedy makes you feel about yourself. If you’re like me, you won’t be able to stop. But if you don’t feel that way, go find whatever it is that gives you that feeling, because if comedy isn’t like that for you, you’re wasting your time when you could be pursuing your dreams. Don’t worry so much about the jokes when you start- the material will come with time. No one good uses the jokes they wrote when they first started anyways, so don’t worry so much about that. Just practice, practice, practice.

Do you have a motto you go by?

No real motto yet, but a catchphrase in one of my bits is probably the best sound byte I can give- “Drink the Kool Aid, fuckers!” Someday you’ll see that on a t-shirt or hear it on TV and then you’ll know I’ve arrived.