Editors Note: This interview began in a normal font and grew into ALL CAPS.
Evolution at work.
Where did you grow up and when did you first get the comedy bug?
I GREW UP IN SOUTH FLORIDA; SPECIFICALLY A TOWN CALLED PLANTATION. I FIRST GOT THE BUG AT A REALLY YOUNG AGE, ACTUALLY I WAS 8 YEARS OLD WHEN I DID MY FIRST STAND UP SHOW. IT WAS A SUMMER CAMP TALENT SHOW AND I WON FIRST PLACE. I STILL HAVE THE TROPHY.
You did your first open mic at age 18. Many comics are either hooked immediately or need
some time to rethink their strategy. What was your first reaction?
LOVED IT! FROM THE FIRST MOMENT I KNEW IT WAS THE BEGINNING OF THE REST OF MY LIFE. I STILL FINISHED COLLEGE WHILE DOING LOCAL OPEN MIKES & SHOWS, BUT RIGHT AFTER GRADUATION, I WENT FULL TIME AND HAVEN’T STOPPED.
As a comic who has been practicing his craft in the age of the Internet, do you feel that web content has helped or hurt the industry? This is to say, the web gives more people the opportunity to showcase their ‘talents’ but at the same time may lead to overcrowding in the comedy world. I.e., it’s easier to sit down and post a video online than it is to get onstage at an open mic and face that challenge.
WELL THE INTERNET IS JUST A NEW WAY OF MARKETING. I’M SURE RADIO ACTORS BACK IN THE 30’S THOUGHT TELEVISION WAS JUST A FAD BUT EVENTUALLY HAD TO LEARN TO USE IT FOR THEIR OWN ADVANTAGES. THE INTERNET IS THE SAME THING FOR MY GENERATION. IT’S SOMETHING YOU HAVE TO EMBRACE OR YOU’RE GOING TO BE LEFT BEHIND. AND THERE IS A HUGE OVERCROWDING ON THE NET, SO YOU DEFINITELY NEED TO FIND SOMETHING THAT HELPS YOU STAND OUT.
AS FAR AS WHAT’S EASIER, OF COURSE POSTING SOMETHING ONLINE IS EASIER THAN FACING A CROWD. HELL, YOU CAN TAPE YOURSELF HAVING AN “OK” SET, BUT THEN ADD SOME LAUGHTER IN LATER AND YOU LOOK LIKE YOU’RE KILLING. BUT THE PROOF IS IN THE LIVE PERFORMANCE. YOU MIGHT GET PEOPLE IN THE SEATS WITH A GREAT ONLINE VIDEO, BUT YOU BETTER HAVE MORE THAN 5-10 MINUTES OF GREAT MATERIAL. I KNOW SO MANY COMICS WHO’VE HAD THAT ISSUE. THEY SHOWCASE WITH A KILLER (SHORT) SET AND THEN CAN’T BACK IT UP FOR AN HOUR. THAT’S WHY I’M GLAD I DEVELOPED A DECENT 45 MINUTE ACT BEFORE I MOVED TO LA. I FEEL BAD FOR THE COMICS WHO START IN LA OR NY, AND THEN WHEN THEY START TOURING THEY WONDER WHY THEIR MATERIAL ISN’T WORKING OR THEY’RE SCARED BECAUSE THEY HAVE TO DO MORE THAN JUST 12 MINUTES.
Who are your comedy heroes?
ROBIN WILLIAMS, STEVE MARTIN, “WEIRD AL” YANKOVIC, ANDY KAUFMAN, MILTON BERLE, WOODY ALLEN & DOUG STANHOPE.
Is there anything you would change about the industry in it’s current stage?
I WOULD TELL “THE INDUSTRY” THAT BEING YOUNG AND/OR ‘HOT’ SHOULD NOT BE THE ONLY CRITERIA FOR LOOKING AT SOMEONE. THERE ARE A LOT MORE COMICS OUT THERE WHO HAVE SPENT THE BETTER PART OF THEIR OWN LIFE HONING AND PERFECTING AN ACT. THEY CAN WORK ANY ROOM AND KILL IT, THEY CAN’T BE THROWN IN THE MOMENT; THEY ARE PROFESSIONALS. THEIR ONLY PROBLEM (ACCORDING TO THIS BUSINESS) IS THAT THEY’RE OVER 30, OR PAST THEIR PRIME. THAT’S BULLSHIT. IF A DOCTOR IS WORKING FOR 20 YEARS VERSUS A DOCTOR WHO’S ONLY BE AT IT FOR 3…WHO ARE YOU GOING TO GO TO? IT SHOULDN’T BE ANY DIFFERENT IN THIS BUSINESS.
Do you have a daily routine that helps you prep for each show?
NOT REALLY. IF I KNOW I HAVE A SHOW, I’LL USUALLY NOT THINK TOO MUCH ABOUT THE SHOW UNTIL I GET TO THE CLUB AND CAN ASSESS THE SITUATION, IE: IS IT A BIG CROWD OR A SMALL ONE, IS IT ETHNIC OR ANGLO, ARE THEY YOUNGER OR OLDER, ETC. AFTER I FIGURE THAT OUT, I DECIDE WHAT I’M GOING TO SAY.
Are there tricks to disarming hecklers or is it more of a case by case basis?
I HAVE A FEW STANDARD RESPONSES THAT I’VE DEVELOPED OVER THE YEARS. BUT THERE ARE TIMES WHEN THINGS HAPPEN THAT COMPLETELY CATCH ME OFF GUARD…I LOVE THOSE MOMENTS. BECAUSE NOT ONLY DOES THE AUDIENCE NOT KNOW WHAT I’M GOING TO SAY, BUT NEITHER DO I. I LOVE WHEN IT’S TRULY IN THE MOMENT. AND IF MY REACTION WORKS, IT FEELS AMAZING. BUT I HAVE HAD THOSE TIMES WHERE I AM JUST SO THROWN THAT THEY EITHER GET THE BETTER OR ME OR MY RESPONSE JUST FLOPS. IN THOSE CASES, I JUST FIND MY WAY BACK TO THE ACT AND TRY AS HARD AS POSSIBLE TO WIN THE CROWD BACK.
Do you have any upcoming tours/projects you’d like to promote?
IN 2 MONTHS I’M GOING TO BE OPENING FOR KISS (YES, THE REAL BAND) ON A FAN CRUISE TO THE BAHAMAS. I GOT THE GIG THROUGH MY FRIEND (AND COMIC) CRAIG GASS. WHAT’S REALLY AMAZING IS THAT I’M DOING THE SHOW AS MY MY ALTER-EGO, SKIPPY GREENE (WWW.SKIPPYGREENE.COM), WHICH IS BEYOND AMAZING. I ALSO SHOT AN EPISODE OF THE SHOW ‘COMEDY.TV’ WHICH SHOULD AIR EITHER LATER THIS YEAR OR EARLY 2012. YOU CAN SEE ALL OF MY TOUR DATES & INFO AT MY OWN WEBSITE: WWW.FLIPSCHULTZ.COM