INTERVIEWS

Brendon Walsh: En Garde with the Avant-Garde

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walshYou’ve seen Brendon Walsh most recently in Doug Stanhope’s “Comedians Comedian’s Comedians” special on Seeso TV. You may recognize him from his ‘Comedy Central Half Hour’ or his appearances on Drunk History, @midnight, The Late Late Show, Conan, Comedy Bang Bang, HBO, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Tru TV’s World’s Dumbest, Another Period, Maron, the film ‘Punching Henry’ starring JK Simmons & Henry Phillips, or the Nekrogoblikon video “Dressed as Goblins”. Walsh has performed at numerous comedy festivals around the world including the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal and the Melbourne International Comedy Fest in Australia. Walsh was also the host of the ‘Bone Zone’ podcast for 6 years and currently co-hosts the podcast “Do You Know Who Jason Segal Is” with Nick Thune

He is currently launching a tour with another Doug Stanhope cohort Brett Erickson and the will be coming to Northern California and Santa Cruz. Find our more here www.brendonwalsh.com and get tickets here https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3508054

 

SUSC: Why did you move to Austin after growing up in Philadelphia?

WALSH: It’s a cool place. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but Austin is a cool place for film making and music and comedy and visual arts. I thought it would be a good place where people are supportive and had a good scene.

Did you just decide one day to do an open mic?

Pretty much. I had a friend who put on puppet shows at bars and I would do weird things to open for her puppet show, real avant-garde Andy Kaufman type stuff.  One time I did a tribute to Princess Diana who had just died that year. I did a lot of musical stuff. I had a keyboard with a lot of pre-recorded music and I would act like I was playing it and I would sing. So I had the host bring me up saying I had extensive oral surgery that day, but I was there to do the show because I’m a trooper. So my mouth was packed with bloody gauze and I played Candle in the Wind as people stood behind me with sparklers. But my mouth was dripping with blood and you couldn’t understand what I was singing. I would do fake musical stuff and I owned a clown costume so I would do weird clown shit.

Did you have a theatre background?

Yeah. I worked in theatre before I moved to Austin. I worked on the technical end. I worked for a couple of theatre companies in Philly. My friend who did the puppet show bought a house in Austin, so that was in stay with her and see if I wanted to live there. I worked with her at a theatre in Philly. So I met these other theatre performance artists and started getting involved in variety shows and then I went to an open mic and did this character. I was dressed as Powder. Remember that movie Powder?

Yep.

A white guy who was electrical or whatever. Well, I was dressed like him and the bit was I had 5 penises on different parts of my body and I kept pissing myself. So after each joke I would piss myself out of a different penis. One of the other comics at the open mic was like, “That’s really funny, but you’re never going to get any work doing stuff like that.” There was a Funniest Person in Austin Contest. I met Chris Fairbanks there and he told me he was going to feature for somebody in Houston. I asked him much he got paid and he said, $600. That was how much I made loading trucks all week. He told me, “Well, you can’t do it as Powder, you just have to write jokes.” So that’s how it started. I figured I would just write regular jokes and try to get some work as a feature act on the road. I achieved that pretty quickly and now for the last decade I’m like, “Now what?”

Back to the Powder costume.

Yeah, I should have kept that going when I was 25.

When you were hitting mics in Austin who was your crew?

Chris Fairbanks, Martha Kelly who is on Baskets now, Jim Hamilton, Michelle Balloon, Howard Kremer who does Dragon Boy Suede. It was a good scene. I went to an open mic a couple of years before I did one, just to scope it out. It was an older school kind of show. I didn’t think anyone was funny. I thought everyone was kind of dicky. But then there was a regime change with Martha and Chris and it became a bunch of people who were my age and kind of funny.

When did you hook up with Stanhope?

Pretty quickly after I started doing stand-up. He was banned from a club in Austin for pulling his balls out on stage. I think he had previously pulled his dick out onstage and they told him to not ever do that do that again. So the next night he had a waitress shave his balls onstage. Which is technically, not the dick. So he got banned, but then he had The Man Show and they allowed him back. They didn’t book me for a year because I was doing weird shit as an MC. Like wearing a gorilla costume, having plants in the audience and strange avant-garde stuff that was not considered appropriate for an MC. But the lady who ran the club liked me and thought I was funny. So when Stanhope returned she was like, “Open for him and do whatever the fuck you want.” I was just MCing and he thought I was funny. I wasn’t up on current comedy and I wasn’t really aware of Doug. We just kind of hit it off. I think he liked that I wasn’t totally jocking him. I think everywhere he goes there’s a local comic really lobbying hard to open for him and they were always Stanhope-Lite, like a kid onstage smoking cigarettes, trying to do the most offensive abortion joke they could. So we got along and then he just started calling me, asking if I wanted to open for him on the road. It took a little while for it to get started. The first time he called was to work at Caroline’s in New York to open for him. But I was broke and I couldn’t do it for $250, flying from Austin to New York. But then 2004 or something, it started working out and we would do these bar shows and he booked everything through Myspace! It was fun.

According to your Wikipedia page in 2007 you won $100,000?

My Wikipedia has been totally hijacked by people trying to be funny. I haven’t looked at in a while.

It says you spent two years touring with Jeff Dunham.

Yeah. Not true. But it’s great when I do early morning radio shows and they only research they did was my Wikipedia page. “So you’re a world famous chef?” I did win an internet contest that was $10,000. They were basically giving a prize to open mic’ers. It was weird online voting, but it worked out.

You’re about to launch a mini-tour, did you meet Brett Erickson through the Stanhope gang?

We had done some shows with Doug before, but this is the first time the two of us will go on the road.

It seems to me that Brett is a real middle of the road, straight arrow. And you’re a fucking weirdo, so how do you get along?

He had kids really young, so he had to dig swimming pools for a couple of decades before he could jump in feet first.

What do you have that you’re promoting right now?

I have a couple. I’m recording a Roast Battle against Todd Barry that will be on Comedy Central. And then I have a show in development with them called weird uncles. Basically a college girl has to move in with her two uncles to get her state tuition and a free place to live. It takes place in Austin and it’s basically like Step-Brothers level of stupid. We’re waiting to see if they will place a season order or not.

Do you think there’s pressure for comics living in LA to be a multi-platform artist.

No. I think it’s possible to do more than one thing. I definitely like other stuff. Everything else I do feeds the stand-up. Not to sound like a douche, but getting my show on the air will raise my profile so more people will come to my show. Anything you do on TV, hopefully, equates to selling more tickets on the road. Then when you have that fanbase, if everything else goes away, you can still do stand-up. I’ve been doing it for 15 years and I’m not selling any tickets.

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Interviews
07/24/2018

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