Days of nerves, improvisation and writing all go into creating the 30-plus minutes of nonstop laughter experienced during the typical stand-up show, though it wouldn’t be apparent just from looking at sets by Richard Watson, Ben Painton and Leo Garcia. The three seemingly effortless performers at the Weird Kids Stand Up comedy show explained to The University Star what goes into being a successful comedian both on the stage and off.
KD: How do you come up with your jokes?
RW: Well, I would say most of my material is based on my experience. I am 36 now, so I have a little more experience than your average comedian doing stand-up in San Marcos. It is mostly based on things I see and things in my life.
BP: Sometimes I’ll come up with a joke while I’m onstage, and other times it’s like this organic thing when talking to people. Usually, I only do jokes that have made me laugh in conversations with people.
LG: You know that part of sleep where your brain is thinking of dumb stuff and you just let go? That’s when I have to get up and start writing stuff down. Usually, it is silly stuff and nothing political.
KD: Do you write everything, improvise or both?
RW: I do both. Because I host a weekly show, I constantly have to come up with new stuff. I try to write new stuff as often as possible, but if I am up onstage and I am doing crowd work, I am always looking for the opportunity for something to be funny.
BP: A majority of my jokes are improvised. When I write them, they are improvised, and if I like them, I keep them. I’m a little different, and I don’t take a notebook on stage. I will just know what I’m going to say, but I’ll leave room to talk to the audience.
LG: It is about 90 percent of the time I write it down, and the other time I will think of something right as I go up onstage. I rarely go unprepared.
KD: Is it scary getting up onstage?
RW: Especially starting out it is really scary because you don’t know what you are doing. Basically you are doing what other comics are doing and hoping people laugh. It is like that for a while, the first couple of years. I still get a little nervous, but I’m not as nervous because of the jokes. I am nervous to put on a good show for the people who paid to come.
BP: It was really scary when I first started. I would typically shake. I have been doing it for about four years now, and the nervousness has all gone away. There are some nights, though, when I watch comics bomb, and then I get nervous about going up there, but it goes away once I start talking.
LG: Yeah, every time. I have been doing this for three-and-a-half-years, and I get nervous every time. It’s a dumb thing to do, to go up and talk to people for no reason.
KD: What motivated you to get into comedy?
RW: Well, at first this was just something fun to do and something I wanted to try, but I didn’t know how to get into it or that people were actually doing this in San Marcos. A friend told me about it, so I went out to a couple of shows and thought that I could do it, so I just did it for fun and got better at it and grew and got more opportunities.
BP: My parents always played comic albums. When I thought about how people get paid to tell jokes, I knew it was going to have to be something I tried someday.
LG: I used to watch comedy, and I used to be a musician for almost ten years. Then I put it aside, but I still wanted to be onstage, so I thought that I could start telling jokes. The first tie was terrible, but it is a lot of fun and to make people laugh with your ideas feels pretty good.
KD: Is there anyone you look up to in the comedy world?
RW: I have a lot of respect for a lot of people who can get up onstage and work and get better, but I don’t really try to be like a certain comedian. I don’t want to appear like any particular famous comedian, but if there is advice, I am open to hearing it
BP: I would say my number-one inspiration is George Carlin because he is fearless. He says things that no one else has the balls to say.
LG: I look up to a lot of people. It started with all of the big comedians, but now I look up to a lot of local comedians because their work ethic is really hard.