Geoff Tate Rising And Making the Rounds!


tate picGeoff Tate is most likely watching “Cheers” right now. A Cincinnati-based comedian, he has appeared on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and is regular opener for Doug Benson and Doug Stanhope. He made his television debut on Comedy Central’s Live at Gotham, and is a regular on Doug Loves Movies, as well as Getting Doug with High. He has performed at music and comedy festivals like Bonnaroo, South by Southwest, Limestone and he has two albums available at the Doug Stanhope store and he’s the host of the popular geofftate’s MSHD PODCASTO, in which he discusses topical Cheers-related issues, gets his dad to try things, talks to people he graduated with, forces Emma Arnold to host her own show or just has a good time.



SUSC: Where you at man?

TATE: I’m somewhere in New Jersey.

Those are my people, should be a good crowd.

I hope so or it’s going to be a long night if they suck.

Did you see comedy shows growing up in the Midwest?

The only show I went to, apropos of nothing, was with my brother to see Mitch Hedberg in 1998. That was the only time we purposefully said, “Let’s go see this dude.” I waited tables at a club called Jokers in Dayton, Ohio in 1999 which is where I saw Hedberg the year before. I quit that job after a month. The first week I worked there was a hypnotist, the second week was the Chinaman, the third week was some guy with a guitar who was awful, but the fourth week was Jimmy Pardo. I quit after the fourth week because I didn’t make any money the week Jimmy Pardo was there. The reason I didn’t make any money was because Jimmy Pardo was so fucking funny I stopped being a servant. Everyone complained because I was just sitting and watching. The first three weeks I made a shitload of money because I had no interest in what they were doing. I couldn’t work there anymore because after Pardo I didn’t want to hope all the acts suck, so I could do my job.

What was next?

I got a job at a hotel that happened to be the hotel that all the comics from the club were staying at. That also allowed me to go to shows for free because we had a trade. My first day out of training I was working a third shift and at 11:30 that night I checked in Greg Giraldo. I didn’t even know who he was. It’s a hilarious coincidence that his first half hour was on the next night. I could see on his reservations that he was a comedian. The new Elvis Costello album had just come out so I was at the front desk listening to that. He asked if I minded if he listened to it, I told him, “Just bring it back to the desk when your done.” He said he had nowhere to play it and did I mind if he listened to it here. So I started it over and we sat in the lobby of the hotel for 70 minutes. He told me about how he used to be a lawyer and decided to become a comedian. Honest to god, that was the very first moment I realized that you can decide to become a comedian.

How long until you hit the mics?

Six or seven months. I started writing what I thought was material. Working a third shift job means you never have to talk to anybody, everyone is already checked in to their rooms. From midnite to six all I did was respond to problems and run the night audit report. That’s a real click-clack, wait for 40 minutes, click-clack, wait for 40 minutes, job. I would listen to CDs and try to write jokes. I would go to the club every Sunday night just to watch whomever. I didn’t discriminate at all. It took me a month to figure out that some of the comedians lived here. I had no idea. Then I would go to the open mic and see the guy who hosted at the club. They all lived here. This was way before I knew how to use the internet. I figured out you go to the open mic, then you host. I knew I could host. That was my only goal. It took a while before I thought I could be a comic. It’s still happening.

That self-evaluation, those long trips home from a bad gig that’s all part of it.

My friend Emily is doing a bunch of colleges right now and she’ll text when it’s over, “That was the fucking worst.” The checks OK but who wants to eat shit for an hour.

How’s your tour?

It started September 1st in Eugene, Oregon. The downside is I have not gone home yet. I’ve been out for 25 days. Upside is the shows have absolutely incredible. One wasn’t well attended but that’s because it was 4:30 in the afternoon on a Tuesday. But the people that were there were the fucking best. They all bought merch. I just hoped not to go bankrupt and the fact I’m not broke is a miracle. Philadelphia was amazing, we filled the room in New York City, sold out Salem and Bend Oregon. Portland the front row was empty, but the rest was filled. But it was in a movie theatre and nobody sits in the front row at a movie theatre. Stanhope has been a big help. In general his encouragement, but also his advice. I’m doing it the way he did it in the beginning, you find a room and try to make $10 tickets. Weren’t we going to do a show earlier this year?

Yup. Was going to be at The Blue Lagoon.

I had to bail on it because I wasn’t allowed to travel by myself. I have, uhm, depression. Pretty heavy depression that had gotten away from me. My therapist advised me against travelling alone. I think I worked three weekends this whole year. I booked this and met Emma and we travel well together. She describes me as Chewbacca.

tate posterThat’s a great poster man.

We should have them by Santa Cruz.

You learned by a very personal path how to get into comedy. People don’t tell you though, by being a working a comedian, most of the time you will be alone.

I’ve been lucky enough to meet a bunch of country singers that I really like. Sometimes somebody in the audience of my show is like the drummer in the band. And they say the same thing, “You do what I do, but you do it alone.” Shooter Jennings always tells me, “Don’t worry about the money, just make sure it’s fun.”

Does it blow your mind when you go to a new city and there are fans in the audience who just want to experience you live? It’s better than any pill. . . or maybe not.

It makes me feel better than any pill I’ve taken recreationally. But, the pills I take now allows me to feel anything. You know what I mean. I have a misfire in my brain where I box up all my emotions and it ruins everything when I do open up. Because I’m on these pills I can walk into a room in Philadelphia, see how many people are there and actually feel good about it. Instead of thinking, “Oh, I’ll probably fuck this up,” I think, “Oh, this will be fucking great.” I’ve done this for a long time and I always try to be better at it then I was yesterday. But it didn’t get me anywhere. But that wasn’t true because I wasn’t doing the other half of what I have to do.

I really enjoyed your set at the Stanhope show.

That was one of the best sets I have ever had in my life.

I can’t say the same thing about my set, but I had a great time hanging out with you guys.

I was disappointed that I couldn’t do it in April, but looking forward to coming back to Santa Cruz.




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