Tommy Johnagin on Breaking Out as a Comic from Somewhere Other Than NY, LA, or Chicago

tommy-johnaginThere’s no definitive path to a successful career in standup comedy. Just ask Tommy Johnagin.

Though he now lives in LA, Johnagin built a career in his mid-20s headlining clubs across the country, appearing on Letterman multiple times, and starring in his own Half Hour special on Comedy Central while based in St. Louis.

That kind of exposure doesn’t happen often to comics based in non-coastal cities, but Johnagin was able to pull it off through a relentless work ethic, clever jokes, and a clear idea of career goals.

Now, Johnagin’s back with a new The Half Hour on Comedy Central. Ahead of the Friday premiere, we talked about starting out in a smaller market, Last Comic Standing, and his ideas for fixing the pilot system. READ MORE


The Never-Ending Tour: On the Road with Brian Regan

Find the most jaded, bitter, resentful comic you can think of, and chances are even he likes Brian Regan. Everyone does.

Regan has been performing in 100 cities each year since 2005 through his non-stop theater tour, making him one of the most successful touring comedians in the country – a feat even more impressive when you consider he’s done it with scant film and TV exposure.

His everyman persona appeals to audiences of all kinds, and his clever joke-writing endears him to some of the best comics in the business, including Patton Oswalt, who has said Regan is the best standup comic working today.

I recently had the chance to talk to Regan while on break from the first half of his 2014 North American tour. We chatted about being a comic’s comic, helping young comedians, and his growing interest in a TV series. READ MORE


Talking to Dave Attell About His New Comedy Central Standup Show and Special

If you’re a fan of standup, you owe it to yourself to watch Dave Attell do a set at the Comedy Cellar, the famed New York club where he can be found most weekends. To see him in his element, that is telling dirty jokes in a dark basement full of drunk people, is one of the greatest things in all of comedy. If you’re unable to make the trip, Attell has a new special out this weekend on Comedy Central, Road Work, that captures the raw energy he brings to the comedy club experience.

But wait there’s more. Comedy Central has also brought back Attell to host a weekly late night showcase, Comedy Underground with Dave Attell, featuring some of Attell’s favorite comics telling uncensored filthy jokes at New York’s Village Underground.

I recently had the chance to talk to Attell about his new projects, the problems with overproduced comedy specials, and how dirty comics are a dying breed. READ MORE


Talking to Todd Barry About His New 'Crowd Work' Special

Todd Barry has a new crowd work standup special coming out on Louis C.K.’s website.

That’s the narrative we’ll be hearing over the next few weeks. Louie and Todd are friends, Louie thinks Todd is funny and offered to produce his special, Louie holds a lot of sway in the comedy world.

Just keep in mind Barry’s special isn’t some run-of-the-mill comedy special C.K. is producing as a favor.

A standup special consisting entirely of audience interactions hasn’t been done before, and Barry is definitely a master of the skill. This is going to be worth checking out.

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Barry briefly about his new special before he headed out to LA to promote it on Conan, @midnight, and WTF. READ MORE


Talking to Joe Mande About His Standup Mixtape, Writing for 'Parks and Rec', and Buying a Million Twitter Followers

Joe Mande always seems one step ahead.

Whether it’s his Twitter stunts, multimedia shows, or stories about attending a live taping of The Mike Huckabee Show really high, the LA-based comedian and writer has a knack for getting out in front of trends.

It makes sense then that Mande’s latest project is a comedy mixtape he’s releasing in place of a traditional album, complete with DJ drops, comedy sketches, and cameos from Amy Poehler, A$AP Yams, Nick Kroll, Jenny Slate, Jon Daly, Roy Hibbert, and more. The mixtape, which drops today, is called Bitchface and it's being released on former Das Racist frontman Heem’s record label, Greedhead.

I recently caught up with Mande to talk about the mixtape, writing for Parks and Recreation, and his quest for one million twitter bots. READ MORE


Talking to Nate Bargatze About Standup and Developing an NBC Sitcom with Jimmy Fallon

If you need any validation that Nate Bargatze is a great young comic, just know that notorious crank Marc Maron is one of his biggest fans. And Maron doesn’t like anybody.

Bargazte is a rising star in the standup world known for his clever personal anecdotes and laid-back Southern charm. He’s made multiple late night TV appearances, toured with Jimmy Fallon and others as part of Fallon’s Clean Cut Comedy Tour, and recently sold NBC a pilot based on his act.

I recently had the chance to chat with the Tennessee native about his start in comedy, his relationship with Maron, and the process behind selling his first pilot. READ MORE


Talking to the 'Workaholics' Guys About the New Season

Since premiering in 2011, Workaholics has picked up more and more steam as one of today's most smartly written shows starring some of TV's dumbest characters. Beyond the writing though, the secret ingredient to Workaholics is the real-life friendship between creators/writers/directors/producers Adam DeVine, Anders Holm, and Blake Anderson – a chemistry that earned them a double-season renewal last year. Ahead of tonight's Season 4 premiere, we talked with the Workaholics gang about how their show has evolved, how they come up with fresh ideas, and their extended thoughts on Justin Bieber. READ MORE


Talking to Brody Stevens About His New Comedy Central Show and His Friendship with Zach Galifianakis

Think of any comedian working today. There’s probably another comic with a similar style.

Except for Brody Stevens.

It’s difficult to describe exactly what Steven Brody Stevens does on stage, but it’s high energy and part positive reinforcement, part self-affirmation, part antagonism, part hyper self-awareness, part lack of self-awareness, part revealing stream of consciousness. Or something like that.

However you want to describe it, it works. Stevens is very funny and there aren’t many people in show business who are more captivating. Both HBO and Comedy Central recognized this, and after a 20-year career spent largely on the periphery, gave Stevens the starring vehicle he basically commands with Brody Stevens: Enjoy It!

Billed as Comedy Central’s first drama (it began as a web series on HBO), Enjoy It is also hard to describe, as it’s a documentary with occasional animation and written comedy pieces. But it’s all about the enigmatic Stevens: his life, his career, his much publicized mental breakdown in 2011.

I recently had the opportunity to speak to Brody Stevens while he was driving (don’t worry, he was on mood stabilizers and focused and safe and he’d done this before, he assured me) to talk about his new show, his start in comedy, and his relationship with good friend and Enjoy It executive producer Zach Galifianakis. READ MORE


Talking to the Lucas Brothers About Their New Fox ADHD Show

The Lucas Brothers are your typical law school dropout, wrestling nerd, identical twin brother standup duo.

You know.

They also happen to be very funny. After a strong debut on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon two years ago, the Brooklyn-based Lucas Brothers (Keith and Kenny) have officially arrived.

In addition to hosting a morning talk show on Comedy Central's digital arm, the Lucas Brothers have roles in the upcoming 22 Jump Street, and created and star in the animated series, Lucas Bros Moving Co., which premieres Saturday on Fox’s animated block ADHD.

I recently caught up with the brothers while on set filming in New Orleans to talk about their new show, their start in comedy and their obsession with Bret “The Hitman” Hart. READ MORE


Talking to Joan Rivers About Doing a Web Chat Show

Louis C.K. has a great joke about how he connects with old ladies because they’re on their way out, so they just say whatever. He might have been talking about Joan Rivers, minus the “on their way out” part.

You can still rely on Rivers, who turned 80 this summer, to call bullshit on just about anyone and anything in Hollywood. Who’s going to stop someone who’s still one of the biggest names in comedy after more than 50 years in the business?

Amazingly, she might be busier than ever. Whether it’s through her show Fashion Police on E!, Joan and Melissa: Joan Knows Best on WEtv, guest appearances, or her incessant touring schedule, she’s always part of the conversation.

Her latest venture is a web chat show called In Bed with Joan, where she invites fellow comedians and other celebrities over for a candid chat. I recently had the chance to chat with the comedy legend over the phone while she was on the road and talk about her new show, her staying power, and how audiences have changed. READ MORE


Inside Festival Supreme, Tenacious D's Comedy Mega-Event

If Tenacious D’s Festival Supreme was any indication, the days of the comedy tent playing second fiddle at music festivals might soon be over.

Festival Supreme was pretty fucking awesome.

More than 9,000 comedy fans took over the famous Santa Monica Pier Saturday for the first ever Festival Supreme Music and Comedy Festival, which was curated by Tenacious D’s Jack Black and Kyle Gass. The stated lineup was already a who’s who of comedy giants – Adam Sandler, Zach Galifianakis, Sarah Silverman, Fred Armisen, etc. – but it was the surprise guests – Conan O’Brien, the Lonely Island, and Billy Idol, among others – that put the show over the top.

There were complaints about space, which is going to happen when you smush 9,000 people onto a partially fenced-off boardwalk (the public still had access to the pier’s carnival rides and food vendors). So yes, it sucked if you were victim to the Club Intimacy Tent’s one-in, one-out policy, but those kinds of things happen at every festival, no matter the size. Plus, if you couldn’t get in to see one show, there were two or three others happening simultaneously. And you had to be a real dillweed to complain because the weather was perfect, beer lines were short, and performances were outrageous. In all, the festival was a major success. I wished I could have seen every performance, but scheduling conflicts and the laws of physics prevented that. I'm sure you’ll be able to find coverage of the shows I missed elsewhere on the internet. READ MORE


Talking to Mark Normand About Standup, The Comedy Cellar, and Why Comics Are Terrible People

Mark Normand is a comedian whose name you’ll soon be hearing a lot more of. Normand was one of the New Faces at this year’s Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal, where he filmed a Talk of the Fest TV spot, and earlier this year beat out 63 other comedians to become champion of the Carolines on Broadway Stand-up Comedy Tournament.

He’s frequently mentioned as one of New York’s top up-and-coming comedians, has done sets on both Conan and John Oliver’s New York Stand-Up Show, and regularly opens for Amy Schumer. I recently had the chance to talk to Normand about moving to New York, performing at the Comedy Cellar, and why he can’t act.



Talking to Jim O'Heir About Playing Jerry on 'Parks and Recreation'

Chicago native Jim O’Heir had steady work as a veteran character actor in Hollywood until he finally caught a break in 2009 with a role he was born to play: Parks and Recreation’s put-upon government employee with the hot wife, Jerry Gergich.

It’s a testament to O’Heir’s portrayal of lovable loser Gergich that the character has gone from bit player in the NBC comedy’s early days to frequent source of the show’s biggest laughs. Even though Gergich retired from the town of Pawnee at the end of last season, Parks’ producers found a way to bring him back for Season 6.

I recently caught up with O’Heir after shooting an episode of Parks in Indianapolis to talk about his start in comedy, improvising with the best in the business, and why he doesn’t take vacations.



Talking to Paul Scheer About 'The League', 'NTSF', the Genius of Arsenio Hall, and More

Paul Scheer must be the comedic actor everyone can agree on because as of publication he’s appeared in shows on the following networks: MTV, Fox, Comedy Central, IFC, Adult Swim, NBC, FX, E!, HBO, ABC and Starz.

Sure, some of those are blink-and-you’ll-miss-him bit parts, but there are also plenty of starring roles, including his portrayal of Dr. Andre Nowzick on FX’s The League, as well as Trent Hauser on Adult Swim’s NTSF:SD:SUV, a show he also created.

Like many of today’s TV comedy regulars, Scheer got his start at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in New York. It’s become the norm for UCB talent to appear in each other’s projects, but no one pops up as frequently as Scheer, who’s literally at the epicenter of the crossover — a testament to both his comedic gifts and likability.

And despite all his TV and film work, Scheer finds time to host a popular podcast, write comics books, perform live regularly, and put out web videos recreating bonkers interviews from The Arsenio Hall Show.

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Scheer about The League’s upcoming fifth season, the benefits of being married to a fellow comedian, and the under-appreciated genius of Arsenio Hall. READ MORE