Monday, November 29, 2010

Anatomy of a Killer Comedian - Scott Taylor and Nigel Larson

This is the first in a series of posts called Anatomy of a Killer Comedian.  Basically in this series I'll talk with comedians in the open mic scene that most would consider seasoned or professional level comedians.  These are the guys and gals of comedy that you will see consistently killing during their sets.  These are the folks that you'll see or will be seeing soon hosting, opening, middling and even headlining in the main comedy clubs around town and on the road (Laughs, Comedy Underground, Parlor, etc.).

Today I had the great pleasure to talk with Scott Taylor and Nigel Larson, both recent transplants from the East Coast.  If you're in the comedy scene around Seattle or the Eastside, you'll likely have seen them over the last several months.  You'll also notice that they consistently have solid sets.  If you're new to the open mic scene you might wonder how they got started in comedy.

You're in luck because that's much of what we get into discussing with Scott and Nigel during the interview.  You'll hear them answer questions about:
  • Their background in comedy
  • How they did when they first started out in comedy
  • How they ended up in Seattle
  • How the inspiration for their comedy material has changed over time
  • Their goals for their comedy careers
  • Tips and lessons learned they'd like to share with folks that are getting started
  • How they developed their favorite bit/joke and how it changed over time
Interestingly both Scott and Nigel got their starts about the same time in NY, but never really knew each other until they got to Seattle.  You can find Nigel and Scott working on their new material at most open mics around town, especially at Pegasus and Laughs.

Hear more, in their own words from our interview...
(Part 1 of 2):


(Part 2 of 2):


You can find out more about Nigel Larson at NigelLarson.com

and Scott Taylor at his Tumblr site: TBD

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Natural Born Killer Comedian - Jim Burrows

This is the second post in a series called Natural Born Killer Comedians. These are the rare "a star is born" comedians that you get the opportunity to see go up on stage for one of their first ever stand up comedy performances. You have the distinct feeling that you are witnessing the beginning of great things to come when they proceed to kill and give an outstanding stand up comedy performance.

The inspiration to start this series on Natural Born Killer Comedians came after seeing Jim Burrows perform his first ever stand up comedy open mic at Pegasus.  Some kind of instinct drove me to hit the record button on my camera phone and capture Jim's first ever stand up set.

That night, Jim was a loud laughing and vocal audience member that threw back a few really good tag lines (these are additional punch lines to a joke and punch line that was just told) at the comics on stage.  So, I had a feeling he was going to be funny, but I was unsure just how much that would translate to his own stand up comedy performance.

Jim can be a comedian's worst nightmare or their best friend, depending on how comfortable you are with his unique style as a very vocal audience member.  I myself love it.  Jim is a lover of comedy and he seems to see the comedy in just about all material that is performed on stage.  Often he immediately syncs up to what the comedian is thinking and throws out a few really good tag lines.   Most of the time, he sees the same kind of funny that the comedian did and lets out a roaring laugh, that gets to be contagious and gets the rest of the audience joining in the laughter.

Nick Graffis, is the current host of the Pegasus Open Mic Night.  Nick, by the way, has been doing an outstanding job as a host over the last 15 or so weeks that I have been participating!  Nick noticed Jim and asked if he'd like to go up and perform that night.  Jim agreed to go on stage and just wing it.

It's pretty impressive and rare that someone decides to jump on stage and just 'wing it' and actually kill the audience with laughter.  As much as most comedians acts seem spontaneous, they are actually well planned and the result of many many hours of writing, performance, and re-writing.  But, that's exactly what Jim did.  He jumped up and 'winged-it' and killed.  Here's Jim's debut performance at Pegasus Open Mic Night:


Two of my favorite bits that Jim told and got big laughs, were:
I'm from Detroit ... I was walking from Pioneer Square and this guy walked up and goes "Gimme Your Wallet".  I looked at him and go "You have a gun?".  He said "No".  I said "Motherfucker, I'm from Detroit and I have a gun. You give me your wallet!..."
and the beginning of another bit:
I had a friend that was 7 foot tall.  Now, if you have a friend that is 7 foot tall ... You Have A Friend! 
A couple weeks later I had the opportunity to interview Jim and learn what his thoughts were on his new found hobby of stand up comedy.

I'm looking forward to seeing how Jim's stand up comedy hobby develops over the coming months.  From the time I recorded his debut performance until the recording of the interview, I had the opportunity to see Jim perform his standup on the big stage at Laughs and he killed again.  Then again at Pegasus, the same night before the interview.

Jim has a unique perspective and goal towards comedy.  He isn't going to get hung up in trying to improve and follow any of the methods or practices that normal stand up comics employ to perfect their comedy acts (mainly writing, writing and re-writing some more).  He's comfortable with continuing to wing-it and having fun.  So far, winging-it has been working well.  I have a feeling, he's going to run out of material vibrant and fresh enough to wing-it and we're going to start seeing the tell-tale signs of writing, writing and re-writing as his hobby develops ;- ).  Here is the interview with Jim as he talks about his goals for comedy, his background as a writer/educator, his perspective on comedy and his desire to help/mentor others to succeed in their goals: