By Ryan Meehan
Joe List began his comedy career in Boston, Massachusetts in 2000 just weeks after graduating from high school. Since that time List has been featured on Comedy Central’s ‘Live at Gotham’, Fox News ‘Red Eye’, The Artie Lange Show, AXSTV’s, Gotham Comedy Live and was also a semi-finalist on NBC’s ‘Last Comic Standing’. List has also twice been featured at the prestigious Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal as well as the Vancouver Comedy Festival and Oslo Comedy Festival. His album, So Far No Good can be heard regularly on Sirius Radio. List is also the co-host of his own popular weekly podcast, “Tuesdays with Stories” as well as being a regular on Robert Kelly’s, “You Know What Dude Podcast”. List resides in New York City, and when he is not on the road he can be seen regularly at the Comedy Cellar, Caroline’s on Broadway and Stand-Up New York comedy clubs. List considers himself to be a really nice guy, and he’s my guest today in 7 questions.
RM: How did you feel that your first set on Letterman went? What was going through your mind in the seconds before you walked out on stage?
JL: I felt like the Letterman set went really well. I was thrilled with it while I was doing it, when I watched it there were a couple of things I wish I did maybe slightly differently but I was generally really happy with it. It was fun. The seconds before I went on I was really just thinking ‘This is fun, this is gonna be great…’ I tried to just keep reminding myself that ‘This is fun. What could be more fun than this?’ and that’s what I was trying to think about that throughout the set as well. I felt good.
RM: I saw a lot of positive feedback from other comics and fans in general on the social networking sites after your appearance…Why do you think that other individuals within and around your profession seem to have such good things to say about your stand-up comedy? Is the phrase “A comic’s comic” a little bit overused these days?
JL: I don’t know if ‘comic’s comic’ is really too overused these days. I honestly don’t hear it used too much really. I feel like I only hear it said about a couple of guys every once in a while. If it’s overused, it’s not from my group of friends I don’t think. All the comics I know sort of keep things to ‘That guy is a great comic’ or ‘that guy’s is a shitty comic’. That being said I would love to think that comics think of me as a ‘comic’s comic’. It seems like a nice thing to be considered. I hope that other comedians think and say nice things about my comedy because they think I’m original and funny, and because they know how much I love and care about comedy and their opinions of my comedy. The only thing I want more than an audiences approval is other comedian’s approval. My family’s approval is a distant third.
RM: Why do you think that Gotham in New York City is such a great place for comedians to work? What is so special about that club that fans might not be able to feel simply by watching it on television?
JL: Gotham is just a great club. The people who work there really seem to care about comedy and the comedians, which is not always the case at all of the clubs. It just looks and feels like a classy place. They police the room real nice, the set-up is good, and it’s a great size. Most of the television I’ve done in my career has been in that club so it’s a special place to me for sure.
RM: You had to go to therapy when you were younger because you wouldn’t talk to people…How did you make the journey from being so quiet growing up to standing in front of a bunch of strangers and telling jokes for a living? Is there something about the anonymity of the audience that makes it easier for you to speak in from them as opposed to your friends and family?
JL: I was always a really painfully shy kid. I didn’t start talking until really late, and was terrified of going to school because I was scared to meet other kids. I still feel shy in some situations, but being onstage is different because you’re more in control. The anonymity of the audience definitely helps, but really for me it’s that I know what I’m going to say for the most part. I have jokes that are written and I know work for the most part. One on one with non-comedians I am still painfully uncomfortable. I’m uncomfortable talking to you right now and you’re not even here. I think it’s really just a control issue. When you’re onstage you’re driving the car. It’s much more enjoyable.
RM: Are you going to continue to do “Ultimate Worries”? What are the best and worst aspects of doing a podcast and/or web series?
JL: I have actually shot a few more episodes of the Ultimate Worrier that I haven’t released yet because I felt like I was bombarding Facebook and Twitter with them. So there are definitely a few more of those to come. To me the best part of having a podcast is that it’s a reason to hang out with some friends and try to make each other laugh. It’s also another creative outlet and a way to reach more people and get fans. I love doing podcasts. Hanging out with comedians is my favorite thing to do, so to be able to do it and pretend we’re working is really an ideal situation.
The bad part about having a podcast and web series is that everyone has a voice now because of Facebook and Twitter so you’re really opening yourself up to all sorts of criticisms. Some folks just have a Twitter account so they can write mean things to people who are trying to entertain them. It’s annoying at worst though. Somebody will probably read this and let me know how it could have been better. That’s the worst part I guess. But those folks are jerks I say. Who needs em! Right guys?
RM: You started drinking when you were already a comedian, and also stopped while being a comedian…What’s the biggest challenge about being sober and doing comedy for a living? Do you think it would be easier to stay sober if you were in another profession within the entertainment industry?
JL: Being sober as a comedian was tough in the beginning but I don’t really think about it too much now. I got caught up in it for a long time because you’re around so many people that drink and you’re always around alcohol and it’s often free. I didn’t realize for a long time how much it was getting in the way of my career, once I realized that it made it much easier to quit. It wasn’t easy to quit but now life is generally much more enjoyable so knowing that helps me to stay sober. There are also a whole lot of really great comedians who are sober now and being friends with them has made it easier as well. For the most part in my experience, people that used to drink a lot and don’t now are really kind and thoughtful people. Because of that I feel like it was almost easier to stop drinking as a comedian as oppose to another profession because for me there was a built in support system already around me. Comedians are really good people for the most part, I think.
RM: What is your biggest pet peeve about the industry of standup comedy? Do you think that’s something that will change over time, or will it always be there?
JL: I think my biggest pet peeve if we can call it that, is people who got into comedy to take advantage of comedians. There are some comedy bookers and owners and producers and even some other comics who are just trying and succeeding at ripping comics off. That makes me crazy and I imagine to at least some extent will always be part of the business. But it will always be part of pretty much every business I suspect.
RM: What’s up next for you in the remainder of 2014 and beyond? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
JL: Nothing big coming up for 2014 really. I’m just going to keep plugging away and working as much as possible. I’m real excited about my podcast “Tuesdays with Stories” which seems to be getting bigger every week. I’m just focusing on that and being the best comedian and lover that I can be.
Official Website: http://www.comedianjoelist.com/
Joe on Twitter: https://twitter.com/JoeListComedy
Joe on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joelistcomedy
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