INTERVIEWS

Allen Strickland Williams: King of the One Liners

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Allen Strickland WilliamsAllen Strickland Williams is one of the best one-liner comedians in the game. From getting a standing O on Conan to the new Netflix show (Cooking on High) where he appears as a judge on a cooking show for stoners. Williams is hitting all the markets. Williams performed at South by Southwest, Moontower Comedy Festival, Funny or Die’s Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival, the Bridgetown Comedy Festival in Portland, CROM Comedy Festival in Omaha, Comedy Carnivale in Salt Lake City, Hell Yes Fest! in New Orleans, and the RIOT Festival in Los Angeles. Williams was also one-fourth of the sketch group WOMEN, which was featured on IFC, Tosh.0 and L.A. Weekly’s 10 L.A. Comedy Acts to Watch.

He will be appearing at East Cliff Brewery on July 21st.

Tix here: https://www.facebook.com/events/2533932636632148/

 

SUSC: Are you on the road right now?

ASW: No, I’m home, again, finally. I just got back in town.

How long was the tour?

I’ve been out and back a couple of times since May. But this was short, finished up in D.C.

How was Washington?

The audiences were pretty cool, fun. I didn’t really know what to expect either. It was typical of anywhere I go.

Did you do stand-up in college, or not until you moved to LA?

I started here (LA) basically. I did sketch comedy in college. And then when I moved to LA, after I got fired from one of my jobs I started doing stand-up. I had all this free time and I was unemployment and that’s when I started to really pursue it.

So, unemployment compensation was your grant for the arts?

Yeah. I was so depressed and didn’t know what to do, so I was like “Why not, what the fuck.”

Sounds like a lot of comedians origin stories. Did you find coming up that it was hard to get stage time in LA?

I don’t think that’s true. There is so much going on here. When I started there were a ton of open mics. Now there is so much more, it’s insane. There’s always a place to go to get stage time. I think that’s it all here for you, you just have to go out and get it.

Did you have a group of comics you hung out with or were you more a lone wolf?

It took a while for me. About a year or so, but eventually you find your people. The guy who featured for me in DC, had moved to LA when I did. We started going to mics all over town, going to shows and partying and shit like that. After a while you find your crew and that makes it a lot easier. The hardest thing about LA is it’s a big fucking city and there’s so much going on and when you don’t know anybody. Comics are all weird and antisocial and the ones that are social aren’t necessarily the best at it. I think that’s what is the most intimidating thing about it. After a while you find people you click with comedy-wise and friend-wise and it makes the whole process so much more fun.

Who featured for you in DC?

Eric Dadourian. So funny.

In your class, the year you started, who’s doing well now?

Barbara Gray, Dave Ross, Megan Koester, Jake Weissman. I mean you start out and you’re all doing stand-up. I mean, I’ve lived in LA for ten years and coming up on five years of stand-up. With stand-up you see people do other stuff and it’s great but you still get to see them pretty regularly.

What do you mean you see comics do “other stuff” what do you mean?

We start doing stand-up in bars and some people go on to headlining and touring, some people get hired as writers or get their own shows, or big podcasts. It’s funny when you all started off by telling shitty jokes in basements and attics and shit.

Why is there such a schism between stand-up and sketch comedy?

I don’t know. I guess it’s because everyone thinks that what they do is art and pure and everything everyone else does is garbage. There’s a cross-section of people who do both, it’s not that uncommon.

Stand-up comics will rave about SNL or Kids in the Hall but will dump on anyone doing sketch comedy or improv in the scene.

I think it’s a case of comics thinking that sketch comedians have a crutch of other people around them if anything goes wrong, but stand-up is all you.

When I see a bad comic, I think, “Well it’ll be over in 5 minutes and I hope they move. But when I see bad sketch or improv it feels like humanity has failed.”  What’s your latest projects?

Focused on stand-up and writing. Just did Conan, again. Was on Netflix Cooking on High as a judge which is a show where people have to cook using weed. It was dumb.

What do you think about comics from the Bay Area moving to NY?

I think it depends on the kind of person you are. Personally I would rather die than live in New York City. I know a lot of comics from there that are really funny. I also know comics that think LA is hell. I know that it is impossible to live in San Francisco as a struggling artist now. New York is also tough, at least LA is a little bit cheaper. I kind of get that if you are already from California you just want to get out of the state and try something different. Nowadays, LA or NY is not where comics should move. I think Portland, Denver or Chicago has more of a chance for growth, rather than being around a bunch of big names fighting for less opportunities in the business.

Interviews
07/05/2018

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