by Ryan Meehan
Audiences laugh out loud, as David Kaye shares side-splitting tales of his dysfunctional family affairs, and blue-collar upbringing in Pittsburgh, PA. As the last child born to a Polish steel mill worker and a Ho Jo’s waitress, his wry recollections of life as the “baby brother” are candidly funny. “I grew up believing that my parents were not prejudiced people. However, judging from all the beatings I took as a child, I now realize my parents hated white children.” David’s tongue-in-cheek observations have continued to set off boisterous laughter and applause in corporate boardrooms, college rathskellers, and smoky nightclubs throughout the country for over two decades. A former mechanical engineer and more recently, trained thespian, Kaye smartly lampoons life with countless comical vignettes. Acting as narrator and cast, he morphs into a one man comedy troupe using manic mannerisms, outlandish dialects, and contorted facial expressions to convey vividly funny living snapshots of his many off-the-wall characters. David Kaye’s many credits include performances with Weird Al Yankovic, Richard Jeni, David Brenner, and Drew Carey. Along with numerous television appearances on ABC, Comedy Central, dozens of commercials and industrial films, and a starring role in the independent films, ”Creep” and “Saffronia”. David Kaye always delivers huge laughs with his original wit, rock solid act, and genuine comedic talent, and he’s our guest today in an extended version of 5 questions.
RM: How did you first get into comedy and what was your first onstage experience like?
DK: In my teens and early 20’s, I was literally the guy wearing a lampshade on his head at parties. I sought out the attention, and certainly wasn’t getting it at my job in mechanical engineering. I knew there had to be a better outlet for my pathetic pleas for attention, so I thought stand-up would be a better alternative to getting drunk and obnoxious at every social gathering. My first shot at stand-up came after I accompanied a friend to a pyramid scam meeting, there was a little sign on the restaurant door that said “Comedy Workshop Wednesday”. I went the following Wednesday and after watching a number of comics struggle to get a laugh, I decided to try it myself. I went back two weeks later, my entire family and all my friends showed up, 27 people came to see me and I ate it for four of the longest minutes of my life… It was painful, it was beautiful, it was all the attention focused on me. I was hooked.
RM: I was just listening to a sports talk radio show and they were just discussing how beautiful Pittsburgh is. What’s you overall take on the city you’re from and what’s so great about it?
DK: Sports and their fans are synonymous with Pittsburgh. I swear there are a hundred different sports shows all talking about the Steelers. Now that the Pirates are doing well, they have changed the subject, slightly. I have a love hate relationship with Pittsburgh, it sucks you in and won’t let go, and you feel helplessly stranded in a place filled with culture and rednecks… I’ve tried numerous times to move somewhere else, but it grows on you, like a tumor. A tumor with six Super Bowl rings and three rivers, and kick ass pierogies and stuffed cabbage.
RM: What was your worst experience that you’ve had with a heckler and how did you handle it? Is that something that you believe can be taught to a comedian, or does a comic have to work through it onstage a couple of times before they really can go off on the poor sap when they need to?
DK: It’s a toss-up between being hit with a beer bottle outside of Indianapolis, and squaring off with a hillbilly Elvis impersonator in Morgantown, West Virginia. In the first instance, I ran off stage and hid in the kitchen, second time was years later and I held my ground while pummeling the guy with a well-honed diatribe on why he should leave the building. It was definitely experience that allowed me to throw down the verbal gauntlet. Years of simply dealing with crowds. Now if someone heckles me, I am genuinely interested in why they are doing it and how I can turn it around on them. I like to allow them enough rope to hand themself and then pull the gallows lever.
RM: What’s your favorite place to write new material? Do you designate a certain time of the day to be devoted to only comedy writing?
DK: New material, what’s that? I wish I had a favorite spot or favorite time to write.. I think my best material generates itself when I am not sitting down for the expressed reason to write. My material comes in fits and spurts, and it usually involves some activity or spontaneous reaction to what is going on around me. Some comics are deep thinkers, while I am a performer who happens to write jokes about what happened to me. Most of my material is written as a knee-jerk reaction to what’s happening to me at a certain moment in time. I workshop them when I can and the funny fleshes itself out in the process… Funny thing about writing material for me, is that sometimes I will tell an off-the-cuff joke and it gets a huge laugh the first time I do it, then it takes me six months to do the joke the same way… guess there is something to be said for recording every set you do.
RM: What’s the number one mistake that you see younger comics making? Do you think that’s something that will eventually pass?
DK: They all want to be the next Daniel Tosh or Anthony Jeselnik. Shockingly offensive humor quickly wears thin. If your next joke doesn’t top the last outrageous thing you’ve said, then it falls flat. I hope it is a passing fad, but the days of set-up and punchline are gone… though I did see a friend of mine on Conan the other night and he killed it with simple, well written material. I can only leave it to the next generation of comics to make the decision as to how far down the gutter they want to take it.
RM: Are the Pirates for real this year?
DK: Pirate baseball is a fantasy league unto itself. We haven’t won the pennant since 1979, so fans can only hope they don’t crash in the next 3 weeks. They finally won 82 games this season, which means every win from here on in raises our chances of being taken seriously. Plus when you have a beautiful ballpark, where a long ball hitter can blast a homerun directly into the river, that makes for an awesome night of baseball whether or not you team wins. Go Buccos!
RM: How many of the goals that you have set for yourself within the entertainment industry have you attained? Is there anything else that sparks your interest that you haven’t done yet?
DK: Goals are elusive in the entertainment industry. My original goal was to perform at the Montreal Comedy Festival, which has not happened yet. After 25 years doing stand-up, I think I have somewhat attained my goal to carver out a living doing what I love. We all want to do Letterman or Leno, or get a sitcom, which takes Herculean effort and complete dedication to the craft and moving to New York or Los Angeles. For whatever reason, two comics I know recently moved from L.A. to Pittsburgh, and one was immediately lavished upon by the local Improv Comedy Club and a local agent, simply for having lived in L.A. So I guess what I am saying, is my goal now, is to receive some recognition in my own town for having been able to stay in the game
Interests? I’ve been working on a multi-media driven show that incorporates acting, stand-up, set pieces, music and film. A multi-faceted performance that is performed as a stage show versus strictly stand-up.
RM: So what’s up next for David Kaye in the remainder of 2013 and into 2014? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
DK: My latest venture is “American Crapper”, which is a completely insane idea I have about documenting every bathroom I use on the road. You can check out my entire schedule at www.slapsticksproductions.com Upcoming notable stage performances include, “David Kaye’s Filthy Dirty XXXmas”…. running DEC 6-7 at the Reading Comedy Outlet…
Official Website: www.davidkaye.com
David on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/david.kaye.165
David on Twitter: @davidkayecomedy
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