Q: What made you want to get into stand-up comedy?
A: I did theater in school since the fifth grade. I found that comedic acting more-or-less came naturally to me, and I found that I got attention from it that was different from what I normally got in school, so I stuck with it.
The summer before my freshman year of college, Last Comic Standing premiered. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the beginning episodes of that show are like American Idol – they show the ones who will move on, but they also show the complete embarrassments. I remember being furious that these no-talent people were on TV and I was not. Self-absorbed, misdirected indignation fuels a large part of my comedy. It’s probably not healthy.
Q: What do you want visitors and locals to know about stand-up comedy that they may not already know?
A: Three things:
1) That I do it.
2) Yes, we write our own stuff.
3) No, heckling us is not helping the show. I don’t care how many laughs you think you’re generating because of it, all we want to do is find you after the show and bash you in the head with a brick.
Q: How has the industry evolved over the years?
A: Locally, it shrank. The only club in Miami, the Miami Improv, closed down in 2012 and never reopened. Its replacement stopped doing comedy earlier this year, so now if you want to see professional comics in a comedy club, you have to go to Broward. Of course, alternative establishments have stepped up to fill the void – the Fillmore on Miami Beach and Gramps in Wynwood have touring comics semi-regularly, and spaces such as Artistic Vibes in Kendall regularly showcase and develop local talent.
Nationally, it’s become more decentralized. Social media and podcasts have helped comics create and grow a following without having to go through the club system. Comedy Central has taken a chance on shows that would be unheard of ten years ago such as Roast Battle and Ari Shaffir’s storyteller show This Is Not Happening.
That’s not to say all the changes have been positive. I read an article about a comic who sells out theaters thanks to his 2.5 million social media followers. It was a puff piece, but it included this little gem (emphasis mine): “Recurring criticism of him is focused on that his performance set is not structured and lacks the basic mechanics of joke writing. Having watched him perform I can’t argue with that sentiment.” Here’s the article if you want to see it for yourself: http://comedyhype.com/kountry-wayne-proving-online-comedians-ubers-comedy/
Nothing makes a comic more upset than seeing a Vine Star headline. If you are the type who would want to see one do 45 minutes, do me a favor and hit yourself in the head with a brick. I’m a big fan of brick-based justice.
Q: What’s the craziest thing to happen at a show?
A: I’ve had to stop a show once because a family seated in the corner of the venue was upset that we were preventing the mariachi band they hired from performing for them. We paused the show for the band that was supposed to play for 5 minutes. They did 30. We didn’t resume the show.
Q: Where would you like to do stand-up comedy that you haven’t yet?
A: I’d really like to do a small theater to see what that is like. At this level, though, I’m just happy to perform in any venue where the crowd is listening.
Q: Who/What has been an influence in your stand-up comedy?
A: My comedy idol was Greg Giraldo. I loved the way he structured his jokes – as if he was an attorney laying out his case (which is no surprise, he graduated from Harvard Law). He made me feel that one can be academically inclined and still be hilarious, and his roasting ability was the stuff of legend. I cried more over news of his death (and again, even harder, at Comedy Central’s tribute to him) than I did over several dead relatives of mine. All for a guy I met just once.
Q: What’s next for you?
A: I’m in a short play festival at Artistic Vibes on October 1st. I get to play Michael Bay. BOOMBOOMBOOMBOOMBOOM
Q: What social media do you use?
A: I’m on Facebook. I have a twitter (@jsilvcomic), but I never use it. I really don’t like social media.
Q: Describe stand-up comedy in 5 words or less.
A: Someone love/listen to me.