by Andrew Wantuck
This week I spoke with the gritty and hilarious Chris Porter. He has appeared on NBC's Last Comic Standing, Comedy Central's Live at Gotham, and has had a Comedy Central Presents special. We spoke how comedians really want to be rockstars, the key to success is having a firm grip on reality, and having a backdrop on your first special that may or may not make you lose all reality.
Andrew: What's a good question to ask comedians when doing an interview?
Chris: What would you rather be doing? What’s your dream job? Because no comic wanted to be a comic. A Comic that wanted to be a comic his whole life, and studied comedy, he is the guy that ended up with a puppet. I never wanted to be a comic. It was never my dream. I thought I was funny but I lived in Kansas. It didn’t seem attainable. I didn’t even know where their was a comedy club until my psychotic friend called and said “I want to be a comic. How do I do it?” You know? Most comics want to be rockstars. I would ask a comic what book he was reading. That will tell you A, what kind of comic your dealing with and B, what kind of person your dealing with.
Andrew: What book are you reading?
Chris: I’m reading What’s Wrong with Kansas which is a book about my home state. It’s also the authors home state. It’s about how people in the mid-west, especially in Kansas that vote Republican, yet have no social or economic reason to. They basically vote for the very people that ruin their lives. Farmers who vote for people who only care about Wall Street, then end up losing their farms. Shit like that.
Andrew: What is your greatest strength as a performer?
Chris: I would say the bench press.
Andrew: What is your biggest weakness as a performer?
Chris: I would also say the bench press. I can’t lift a lot, but I look good when I do it.
Andrew: You had an interesting and colorful backdrop for your Comedy Central Presents special. How involved were you in that backdrop and what was it exactly?
Chris: I called one of my really good friends who is also a graphic artist and said, “Hey, make me something.” Then he sent me a bunch of ideas all based on the idea that was out there (during the special) with different colors and stuff. I was blown away when I first saw it. What I like about it is, it’s whatever you want it to be. It’s an emblem obviously. It’s a peace sign. It’s my initials. There may or may not be a psychedelic mushroom in there somewhere. Some people think it’s the second of the four horsemen, but I think that is more of a pessimistic view.
Andrew: Do you write out a joke ahead of time and then go on stage or do you work a premise until it's a full, fleshed out bit?
Chris: I usually have one or two punch lines. I don’t just go up there with a premise (pause). Well, the hope is to have at least a punchline, just to give the joke a direction of some sort. But sometimes, you are just like there is something there, maybe if I just go up there and talk about it. It’s weird because some things that make you laugh, never make an audience laugh, and some things that you just walk right over the audience thinks it is one of the funniest things in the world. I guess I approach it from both aspects.
Andrew: What is something that you have learned in the last year?
Chris: Michael Jackson is dead and he was addicted to propofol. I also learned that there is a drug called propofol and apparently it’s awesome.
Andrew: Is their something that really seems to aggravate you lately.
Chris: I think the thing that makes me the angriest is when people stick their arms out the windows to tell me they are coming into my lane. Your arm had no jurisdiction here! I don’t recognize your are arm as an authority figure. However, I do recognize you arm as a tool to drag you out of your vehicle because you are a douche bag.
Andrew: What qualities are important for a stand up comedian to "make it?"
Chris: I wish I could tell you that being true to yourself and an original good point of view would do it, but I don’t know if you look at the most popular comedians that isn’t entirely true. Talent has very little to do with success in this industry. It has something to do with success, but as far as huge success that’s not always the case.
Andrew: Is it part luck? Part networking?
Chris: It’s all of it. You have to be able to network, be a hard worker, all of it. Just being a stand up comic will get you in the door, but then you’re going to have to be able to more. Your going to have to write and more than just comedy. You can’t spend your whole life being “the stoner” stand up comic. I guess it’s just determination and a firm grip on reality.
Andrew: What is your situation with the road? Are you a guy who just loves it and can’t wait to get back out there? Or do you get depressed and hate it?
Chris: Um both? When I say both it’s because it is. It depends on the week I guess. When you do clubs that treat you like a rockstar, you feel like a rockstar, but it’s because not every gig is like that. Next thing you know you’re doing another gig and the club is shit and you’re staying in a condo that the club owns that some waitress gets paid an extra fifty bucks to clean it, and she may clean it or she may just come in there and make the beds. You don’t know. Those weeks you’re like fuck dude, I got to get a sitcom. I’ve got to get off the road. This is no way to live your life. Then the very next week you’re in Seattle at the Hyatt going ‘oh man I live the greatest life ever!’ As a comic your life goes so fast weeks become days. Ask a comic where he’s going and he can tell you, but ask where he’s been and he’ll say "ah lets see I’ve been...where the fuck was I?"
Andrew: Talk to me a little about The Comedy & Magic Club. Good? Bad? Compared to other venues across the country?
Chris: The Comedy & Magic Club is like a time capsule from when comedy was awesome. When comics ask me about The Comedy & Magic Club I go “it’s still 1984 in there” Cause they treat the comics like superstars, you get good food, they pay you, which in L.A. is huge. You know most clubs pay you but it’s like seven bucks or whatever. You guys pay and I can go by a bag of weed after I work there at The Comedy & Magic Club. You know what I’m saying? At the end of the day that’s all I care about.
Chris Porter will be one of the 16 Comedians for The Comedy & Magic Club's 32nd Birthday Bash. 16 Comics for $16. Reservations Required. (310) 372-1193 or comedyandmagicclub.com. ER.