by Ryan Meehan
Brett Erickson is a comedian based in Los Angeles, CA. With a quick wit and a lovably acerbic tongue honed by nearly 20 years on the comedy road, Brett’s live show is not to be missed. Socially-relevant, topical and unapologetic, Brett has been called by Doug Stanhope” one of the funniest comics working today”, and that endorsement is more than enough to earn him a spot as my guest today in 7 questions.
RM: Who was the first comedian you saw live that caused you to fall in love with the whole comedy club experience? How long after that did it take you to muster up the confidence to do your first open mic?
BE: This is 7 questions and that’s actually 2 questions, so…I’ll answer them both, but now I’m not going to answer #7. I never saw any stand-up live until I was in my 20s, and then it was just at a club somewhere, not sure who the comic was. For me, the dream of doing stand-up came from comedy albums. (I’m old.) My parents had Bob Newhart and Bill Cosby, who was funny at the time because we didn’t know how rapey he was. Then when I was in 7th grade, I got Steve Martin’s “Let’s Get Small” and that was MY album, you know, not my parents’. And it was so good. I just listened to it again recently and it absolutely holds up. Brilliant. I never actually attempted stand-up until I was 29. I was a DJ doing a morning radio show and I thought it would help promote the show. It didn’t. It did help me see that radio wasn’t for me, when I got fired from it.
RM: How would you best describe your first five years doing stand-up? What were some of the clubs where you got your start; and what were some of the tricks of the trade that you learned from other comics early on?
BE: OK, that was AT LEAST 2 questions, probably 3. I can see now why you became a writer. Math certainly isn’t your thing. My first 5 years of stand-up were an unmitigated disaster and most of the clubs I played then are closed now, in part, because they hired unmitigated disasters. The Jukebox in Peoria was the very first club I played and it’s still open today, but that’s mostly because of their world-famous nachos. They are REALLY GOOD! One thing I learned early is to be nice to the staff. Well, I didn’t actually learn that…I already was nice to people, but being nice to the staff at the club is crucial. If they like you, maybe, just maybe…you’ll be back.
RM: What is the biggest difference between the way people respond to comedy on the West Coast as opposed to here in the Midwest?
BE: Now see…THAT was 1 question. Good job. Longitude. Next question. Just kidding…I don’t know is there’s really that much difference between people in the Midwest and west coast, honestly, People are people. I mean, there probably is, but I don’t think about it. I care about what I think is funny and if I do my job, you’ll think it’s funny too no matter where you’re from.
RM: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from working on the road with Doug? Do you feel like the cult following of fans that are intense followers of his are an accurate representation of the travelling circus that is The Man, Bingo, Tracey, and the rest of the gang?
BE: Doug taught me a very important lesson: Always have merch. “You can make a lot of money selling merch,” he used to say. So, with that in mind, I’d like to mention, I have a comedy CD available. It’s called, “Merch.” Get it on iTunes or my at website brettericksoncomedy.com.
Doug’s fans are the most loyal of comedy nerds and I love them, but there’s nothing like Doug, Bingo, Tracey and the rest of the gang. They’re lovely. The loveliest, in fact.
RM: If you were a superhero and one of your powers gave you the ability to change one thing about the industry of stand-up comedy, what would you change and why?
BE: If I were a superhero and my power was the ability to change on thing in stand-up comedy, I think I would have a pretty difficult time convincing anyone I was a superhero. But, if I could change one thing, I would make more chances for white males. They NEVER catch a break!
RM: What’s the most bizarre thing that’s ever happened to you on stage? Were you satisfied with the way that you handled it; and if not, what would you have done differently so that the situation would have had a better resolution?
BE: I had a full bottle of beer thrown at me in Spearfish, SD. I don’t know if I handled it well or not. I kept going. I lived. I also had an old guy have a stroke at a private Christmas show in Canton, IL. Luckily, it was for the staff of the hospital, so I said, “…um…is there a Doctor in the house?” and everybody laughed…And I said, “No. Seriously,…this man is dying. Is there a Doctor in the house?” They just kept laughing. The man died, of course. (Not true. He was fine, by the end. He’s probably dead now though because that was a long time ago.)
RM: I’ve heard from several comics here in the Midwest who said you have always been really helpful to those who are up and coming in the world of stand-up comedy…Why is doing that so important to you; and what is the one key piece of advice that you find yourself continually giving to younger comics that really want to take their act to the next level?
BE: I’m helpful to the comics on their way up, so they’ll help me when I’m on my way down. Could be anytime.
RM: Which aspect of the writing process do you tend to struggle with the most and why? Conversely, which portion of joke construction would you say is your specialty; and why do you think that you excel at that particular facet of your craft?
BE: The thing I struggle the most with in writing is the “I before E, except after C” rule. I don’t think it’s true. Sure, it makes for a great-sounding rhyme, but that shouldn’t be enough to make it a rule. There are tons of words that break this rule. If you don’t believe me, talk to my Dad, Keith. The thing I’m best at in writing is cursive. I’m really good. Long, elegant words flowing together, it’s beautiful. But, alas, like the Dodo, no one gives a fuck.
RM: What’s up next for you in the remainder of 2015 and beyond? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
BE: That’s a great question, Ryan. I’m actually pitching a show to FOX. It’s about a plucky, young reporter for a Midwestern comedy website who, with guile and tenacity, gets comedians to answer more questions than they originally agreed to. I just hope they think it’s believable!
Official Website: http://www.brettericksoncomedy.com/
Brett on Twitter: https://twitter.com/brettnotbrent
Brett on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/582041970
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