Ian Bagg: A Comic Who Doesn’t Give a Puck!!
Ian went to school to be an explosives engineer, but a lucky chance at an open mic made him the volatile one. He may be in your area sooner than you think, because this manchild does over 100,000 air miles a year. He has had 2 half-hour specials, “Comedy Central Presents” and HBO’s “A Comics Climb” and has been featured in 2 seasons of “Gabriel Iglesias Presents Stand-Up Revolution” on Comedy Central. His latest one-hour special, “Ian Bagg: Getting to F**king Know You” aired on Showtime. In 2015, Ian was a fan favorite and placed in the Top 5 on NBC’s “Last Comic Standing.” He is currently on a 70+ date national tour with the Top 5 Last Comic Standing finalists. You can see Ian at The San Jose Improv this coming weekend. Tix here: http://sanjose.improv.com/event.cfm?id=425590
SUSC: When did you start doing comedy in Canada?
IAN: I was out of high school when I started doing stand-up in Canada at an open mic night at the Punchline Comedy Club.
Who did you come up with?
There was just a bunch of locals and a guy named Tom Staid and Bonnie McFarlane.
How did you get moved up from open mic’er to feature?
I just kept doing that open mic, after a month they gave me guest spots and then they moved me up to feature and then up to MC and within a year I was dabbling a little bit in headlining.
Did you talk to headliners about getting on the road?
. I was pretty much a wallflower so I would listen to their stories. I didn’t know if I wanted to be on the road, I just know I wanted to do stand-up. Being Canadian we would have to travel wherever we went anyway to get other spots. We would often travel five hours to do ten minutes.
Did Montreal Just for Laughs provide a turning point for you?
The festival stuff? Not really. It was fun but didn’t do anything for me.
When did you decide to move to pursue comedy?
I knew I would have to move to America eventually and at a certain point. I met a comic who invited me down to New York City and started getting spots at The Comic Strip. A guy named Lucien Hold was one of the owners and he invited me down.
Did you like it?
I fell in love with New York right away.
Did you get a manager?
Yeah. The owner of the club, Lucien Hold became my manager. I was with a little agency called OmniPop and they helped me out quite a bit. I also got seen by the Conan people and got on Conan three times fairly early.
I was wondering how you scored an acting job in Rock the Cradle.
I was coaching hockey in New York and Tim Robbins was playing hockey with me. I never told him what I did, but somebody told him I was a stand-up while he was making that movie and he asked me to come down and audition. I played disgruntled worker #2. I got in a scene with John Cusack, that was pretty cool.
Did it seem like it was easier to get work in LA?
No. I was living in NY and going back and forth to Los Angeles. I ended up booking a bunch of commercials. The natural progression was to move to LA. My parents lived in Canada on the West Coast so I wasn’t tied to New York. I loved it, but I wasn’t tied to it. And the weather in LA was very attractive.
Coming from Canada to New York, was LA the first time you didn’t have a brutal winter?
My mom is from Australia so I got to spend a couple of Christmas’ there.
Do you think there is more opportunities for comedians to get their names out there today?
I think it is easier to get your name out there, but you might get your name out there before you want it out there. Comedy is a progression and a personal journey. Although everyone is in a rush to get to the next level, you don’t want to be seen before you’re ready. I think some people don’t consider that and it hurts them. You used to be able to grow in anonymity, being able to fuck up on stage without worrying about it. Now younger comics think everything should be filmed and shown to everybody. You decide to put up a terrible set, down the road a casting director sees it, or somebody that does something, and the first time they see you is usually what they remember you for.
That’s good cautionary advice.
That’s why a lot of times, comics have to leave the clubs they came up in, because mgt. just remembers them as open mic’ers.