by Ryan Meehan
Nick Youssef is a Los Angeles-based comedian and actor whose been seen in numerous national TV commercials, guest roles on sitcoms such as NBCs Animal Practice and in the popular video game, LA Noire. When not on tour, Nick hosts the Occasionally Awesome podcast on the All Things Comedy network and can be seen regularly performing stand up at The Comedy Store, Laugh Factory and Improv comedy clubs in Hollywood. We are delighted to have Nick as our guest today in 7 questions.
RM: What made you choose the La Jolla Comedy Store as the venue to record your new CD?
NY: The Comedy Store is in my blood. I started performing at the Hollywood Comedy Store when I was a teenager and have been developing my style there since. I chose La Jolla because it’s a great club with great crowds and I’ve worked that room so many times over the years as an opener, future and headliner it feels like a second home. Ultimately, I just wanted to record somewhere I’m most comfortable.
RM: As a guy who’s made it quite clear that he’s not a fan of the traditional terrestrial radio model, what is it like doing a lot of these morning shows when you’re on tour when you know you’d never listen to them if you weren’t on the show?
NY: To be honest I’ve only done a handful of morning radio shows, and there never is really enough time to get in depth about anything. A segment is usually 3 – 5 minutes and you’re just trying to make a few jokes and get out of there. It still works as a forum to get people out to shows so I can’t really knock it that hard.
RM: You have a bit on YouTube where you talk about 90’s music and how the fact that it’s a genre with its own stations makes you feel old…How often do you find yourself feeling like you’re getting older; and what was the first experience that you had where you realized “Holy shit…I’m getting old…”?
NY: Hearing 90s music referred to as classic rock and hearing teenagers and people in their early 20s refer to D.A.R.E shirts as ‘vintage’ was my first real feeling of ‘wait, I’m not the youth anymore…’ It was a little jarring at first, but every generation goes through it. I always try and think about how to make every year going forward a better one. I don’t dwell on the past too much. Nostalgia is fun, but being stuck there is a bummer. Also, I’ve actually been listening to and talking a lot more about 90s music with friends because of its new retro label, so I guess there’s a silver lining.
RM: You do a podcast called “Occasionally Awesome” with your friend Kevin Christy…Do you have any recurring segments that you really enjoy incorporating into the show; or is it pretty much just a hangout session with you two and the comedian or personality that’s on the show that day?
NY: Occasionally Awesome, (available on iTunes and AllThingsComedy.com and Stitcher), started as a result of friends and strangers on Twitter telling Kevin and I we should do a podcast together. So, being easily susceptible to peer pressure, we did it. Kevin and I are good friends with a lot of shared interests so it seemed like doing a podcast together was a no brainer. We don’t really have recurring segments, but we do have a lot of themes we end up talking about with guests such as clothing, style, music and food. We like to talk about anything the guest is into. Our only soft rule is no entertainment/acting/comedy talk. I say soft because when you do it for a living, it’s hard to avoid completely.
RM: This past holiday season, you wrote a blog post entitled “Testimonials from E-Harmony’s 15 Reasons to Date a Comedian” ( http://nickyoussef.com/blog/ ) Have you ever thought about writing one where you give sort of a “How-to” guide for dating a comedian?
NY: The testimonial response came pretty easy because whoever wrote the original eHarmony 15 Reasons to Date a Comedian has clearly never met a comedian or seen a comedian in his or her life ever. They probably watched Full House and assumed every comic is Uncle Joey. I wouldn’t feel qualified to write a how to guide on dating a comedian because we’re all our own unique brand of crazy. I also come from a long line of failed relationships, coming to me for relationship advice is a great way to ensure you’re single by day’s end.
RM: How has your writing process changed since you first started out doing open mics? What’s the biggest difference between the way you wrote then and the way you wrote now? Do you spend a great deal of time trying to figure out ways to write smarter or more effectively?
NY: When you first start out you have no idea what to write or how to write it. You look at your idols and sort of mimic what they do. You just want to be funny and good so you’ll write about anything. When I was in my early 20s I was a lot angrier at the world and that reflected in my stand up. I ranted on politics and social issues. As the years went on I started living a life and talking about things like dating, heartbreak, traveling and such. I used to do a lot of topical/pop culture stuff too because it was a good writing exercise because there was always something new and absurd that was easy to mock. I’ve found those types of jokes have since moved onto sites like Twitter and don’t really have a place or shelf life on a live stage anymore. My biggest and most important rule for myself was always keep writing. Every day. Write a little bit. Write something new, work on something current. Doesn’t matter. Just write. If you’re growing and evolving offstage, you’ll always have something to write about and you will grow and evolve as a comic.
RM: What’s the best advice that a more experienced comedian has given you? How have you applied that to your own act; and what advice would you give to younger comedians that are just starting out?
NY: Advice is tricky because everyone is doing their own thing. Stand up is so unique. The best comics are just being themselves. A lot of the generic advice you hear comes from books and classes that are telling you to be something that isn’t yourself; Generic x Hack = Blaaah. The best comics always told me to just write a lot, be honest with myself and go up as a much as humanly possible. It sounds vague, but that’s how you figure out who you are up there. I was fortunate to have the Comedy Store when I started. They put me onstage and let me do whatever I wanted. I failed night after night after night after night trying new things and taking risks. The older guys never told me what to do and what not to do. They never said I was doing anything wrong. Everyone just let everyone be and figure things out for themselves. The closest to any direction was technical advice like holding a microphone too close to your mouth and making eye contact and stuff. The best non artistic advice I’ve gotten over the years was to be nice to people. Comedy is a business as well. If you want to work and make friends and have all the opportunities you think your talent deserves, be nice to people. I know a lot of really funny people who are asshole that no one wants to be around. I’m not saying kiss everyone’s ass, but be cool. It’s not that hard.
RM: What’s up next for you in the remainder of 2014? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
NY: Right now I’m just focused on finishing up this album and having it up online and in vinyl. Then I’ll hit the road a little and start working on the next one.
Official Website: http://nickyoussef.com/
Nick on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nickyoussef Nick on Twitter: https://twitter.com/NickYoussef Once again thanks for visiting First Order Historians and enjoying more of the internet’s finest in user generated content. Meehan