by Ryan Meehan
Steve Simeone is a comedian. When he is not on the road, you can usually find him at The Comedy Store in Hollywood. This spring, Steve will make his Comedy Central debut on Gabriel Iglesias’ “Stand Up Revolution”. He would rather write movies than this bio, so if you want to know who he is, please listen to his podcast “Good Times with Steve Simeone”. We are happy to have him as our guest today in 7 Questions.
RM: First off…Your website URL is http://awesomesteve.com/ On a scale of one to ten how awesome are you feeling at the moment? What is your usual level of awesomeness typically dependent upon?
SS: I feel the need to explain the website URL. My website was originally http://www.SteveSimeone.com, but I let the domain lapse, and some jerks bought it and tried to sell it to me for a profit. So, I bought “awesome” Steve instead. I choose the word awesome because a few years ago I was working out a bit about my little brother, and he used the word awesome frequently, and it just stuck with audiences. I remember the first road weekend I tried the bit, and people were coming up to me saying awesome in his voice. But to answer your question, right now, I’m feeling pretty awesome. My level of awesomeness usually depends on the people I’m hanging out with. I think it’s impossible to feel awesome by yourself. When I’m hanging out with my buddies having some laughs, or making friends or helping somebody with something I feel the most awesome.
RM: What’s your earliest memory of watching wrestling on television and what fascinates you most about the sport? Are there any aspects of the way that wrestling is sold that are similar to the way comedy is sold? If so, how do you apply those techniques on stage and incorporate them into your own act?
SS: I STARTED WRITING MY RESPONSE TO THIS QUESTION THREE WEEKS AGO AND REALIZED I WAS WRITING A BOOK, I WAS SERIOUSLY WRITING A BOOK. I have no idea why my caps lock were on. My earliest memory was when I was a real real little guy, like two or three and I didn’t like it. I didn’t even make it past the opening montage, because some guy was bleeding and I was out. I remember my Dad being so bummed that I wasn’t into it. However by the time I was four, I was hooked. I think it was seeing Andre the Giant that got me into it. He was a real giant and to a three or four year old kid, it was as if he walked right out of a storybook. I think, that’s what I love most about wrestling, is the storytelling. There are so many similarities between wrestling and comedy; I think that’s why you see so many former wrestlers and wrestling personalities getting into podcasting and stand-up comedy.
Without giving you a book, I think, all good storytelling, whether on a comedy stage or a wrestling ring, is about connection with the audience. People have to care. The generation of wrestlers I grew up watching were actually able to tell stories with their wrestling. Their microphone skills only enhanced that and set expectations for matches. Sadly, I think that skill is being lost. You used to be able to tell the difference between “Good Guys” and “Bad Guys” by how they wrestled. Now, it seems that the actual wrestling isn’t as important as the dialog between the wrestlers before the match. Now, there aren’t really aren’t any good guys or bad guys left anyway. Everybody is kind of bad. Wrestling has always been an interesting reflection of society that way.
So for me as a comic, I need to connect. I don’t tell jokes. Some guys perform a monologue with their jokes. They will essentially give the same show regardless of circumstances. They have an act. They come from the perspective that it’s always you and never the audience that dictate how a well a show goes. I’m the exact opposite. I think audiences get the show they deserve. If I connect it will fun, if I don’t it will be a disaster.
And briefly, I’d like to mention “energy”. When I tell stories, I like to play with the energy, sometimes going from me sitting on a stool, and using the silence, building the energy, pacing, jumping, bringing the energy back down, and usually, if things go well, it ends big. Just like a good match. The energy going up and down, is what engages that audience. I’m NEVER conscious of doing any of this by the way. I try my best not to think on stage. I usually don’t have any plan at all. It has to be in the moment.
RM: How do you view crowd work and audience interaction? If you plan on doing a twenty minute set what is maximum amount of crowd work that you would allow yourself; or does it completely depend on the environment at the club that particular night?
SS: I usually don’t do much crowd work. I always I have too much to say. Like I mentioned in the previous question everything is dependent on the audience, and for me comedy exists in the moment. Even if I’ve done a bit 100 times, there’s always something different about that crowd, that moment on stage, so each time you do the ‘joke’ it’s different.
RM: Gabriel Iglesias is doing comedy a real solid by putting a stand-up showcase on the air with “Stand Up Revolution”…Shouldn’t there be a slew of shows these days promoting comedians such as yourself? If you weren’t a comic but were still a fan of comedy would you think that basic cable should have more showcase-style options where people can check out new acts; or do you think that with YouTube exploding onto the scene more people are simply viewing a majority of their entertainment online?
SS: First let me say this, Gabriel Iglesias is one of the coolest dudes I’ve met in my entire life. He is a beast on stage, in my opinion, right now, the best in the world. But more importantly, he is the nicest guy in the world. He’s just so cool. How could I not love this guy? He made two dreams come true for me, he put me on Comedy Central, and he brought me to Wrestlemania!!!! The greatest.
I have no idea why there isn’t a flood of stand up on television. There are so many talented, funny, and hardworking comics that I know, that the world should know. YouTube is great for all comics. I wish I was better at filming and editing stuff. I hate all of my YouTube clips and will update them soon. (All of your questions make me want to get my life together).To answer your question, I think there should be more comedy on television, as a fan of comedy I feel that. And yes I do think people are watching more comedy on line. However, as of now, in general terms, the combination of television exposure, and strong online presence is necessary for a comic to be successful.
RM: In a world where there is a seemingly endless supply of comedy podcasts, what makes yours so unique and who are some of the guests that you’ve had on your show?
SS: What I hope separates my podcast from the others, is a sense of positivity. I don’t want to hit people over the head with it, but I hope, that somehow, I can remind people that things aren’t that bad. That’s the goal. At the very least, I get to hang out with my buddies and have some laughs. Some of my guests on GOOD TIMES, have included Steve Rannazzisi from the TV show “The League”, WWE Hall Of Famer Roddy Piper, and my buddy Jason who grew up down the street from me.
RM: You’re the part of the tight-knit community that consists of the comics who perform at The Comedy Store in West Hollywood…How did you get to be a part of that scene; and for someone who has never been there before how would you describe the atmosphere of that place and what makes it so legendary?
SS: I have a real love/hate relationship with The Store. I started doing open mics there back in the fall of 2000. That’s the beauty of the place, it all starts with the Open Mic. Anybody that wants to be a part of the store CAN be a part of the store. I had met Pauly Shore at a Comedy contest I won in Philly, and thought that was going to help me out. I didn’t get passed at the Comedy Store until almost 8 years later. That was after I worked every job at that place. I think I’m the only idiot to have worked all the jobs there. So, I guess, to answer your question as honestly as possible, I got to be a part of the scene there by showing up at Open Mics and never leaving. I just kept hanging out. Looking back on it, it was absolutely crazy.
I’m not sure how to describe the atmosphere of The Comedy Store. It’s seems to always be in flux. Some nights it’s the coolest place in the world and other nights it feels so bad there, that I’ll go home without performing. The building itself has been a staple of the Hollywood community long before the Comedy Store opened. It’s almost as if you can feel the building’s history. On good nights you get to experience all the joy that’s ever been felt there and on bad nights, it really does feel like it’s haunted.
I actually should write a book about my years at the store. But in shortest terms, what I feel makes the place legendary, is this. It’s the only place in the world where a kid that wants to be a comedian can walk into an open mic and leave a few short years later as a star. Add in the stories of gangsters, and ghosts, and you have a legendary comedy club.
RM: I’ve noticed that compared to other comedians, you seem to use Twitter for promotion of either yourself or other comics as opposed to utilizing the site to tell jokes. Why is it that you choose to use Twitter in that fashion instead of using it as sort of a “comic’s notepad”? Does it have anything to do with the fact that you wouldn’t want to waste any material on Twitter that you might want to use on stage?
SS: I’m trying my best to tweet more. I should take advantage of it as a ‘comic’s note pad’ as you called it. But the thing is, with my style of comedy, I’m kind of like the Anti-Twitter comic. I love to tell stories, real stories, or more accurately stories based in reality, exaggerating is what’s makes them fun to tell and funny to listen to. When I’m writing, I’m always asking “and what else?” I try to make my bits longer, I try to think of more details. Twitter is only 140 characters. Don’t get me wrong there are some very talented people that are able to manipulate those limited characters into laughs. But, most of the comedy on twitter is just puns, or completely contrived jokes, and in general it’s overwhelmingly negative. So it’s either that, or the fact that I’m very lazy.
RM: What’s up next for you in the remainder of 2014? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
SS: Hopefully, my episode of Gabriel’s “Stand Up Revolution” will finally air. I’ve been trying to record a cd forever. I don’t get the chance to headline as much as I would like. So it makes it difficult to record. Regardless, my first CD “Remember This For When You Get Sad” will be released. And I’m close to finishing my first real screenplay. My goal is to actually be in ‘Showbiz’ by the end of the year.
Official Website: http://awesomesteve.com/
Steve on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/comediansteve
Steve on Twitter: https://twitter.com/stevesimeone
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