by Ryan Meehan
A veteran standup comedian for two decades, Drew is known as an edgy, intelligent, performer in venues from comedy clubs to theatres. His commanding presence onstage immediately stamps his trademark comedy that is both hilarious and self-deprecating, including observations of the human condition and the declining state of American society. His status as an unlikely farmer has been enhanced by his vast new following of farm and ag-oriented audiences. His new CD, “Farmageddon,” is his first PG release geared toward family-friendly listeners. Drew’s one-hour Comedy special “Irked and Miffed,” is still one of the most popular among comedy fans. He is a regular favorite on the nationally syndicated Bob & Tom Radio show which has given him a huge Midwest following. Drew is also one of the elite few to receive a standing ovation on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno”, and we are happy to have him as our guest today in 7 questions.
RM: When did you first experience the realization that you might be funny? How long afterwards did you have the thought that you might be able to become a headliner at comedy clubs?
DH: I was funny from a very early age, and was aware of it when I was a child. It never occurred to me that I would be in the comedy business until I was about 30. I dabbled in standup and sketch in college, but treated it as a sideline until I was 30. I owned a small business, was frustrated with all the regulations and employee hassles, so I decided to dive into standup until my savings ran out. Luckily, I was making a living at standup before my savings got burned up.
RM: What makes farming humorous? Which part of that lifestyle do you find that it’s easiest to write about?
DH: Actually nothing makes farming humorous. It’s seeing farming or any activity with a humorous eye. What makes the farming life funny is that I’m essentially a “fish out of water”. I tend to be the butt of my jokes because of my unlikely surroundings.
RM: Why did you decide to construct your album “Farmageddon” as a record that would fit within the “clean comedy” genre? Had you previously done what you would consider to be a lot of blue material in the past? Did the fact that you had political aspirations have anything to do with making sure the new material at the time was clean?
DH: I made “Farmageddon” as a G-rated CD only because it was going out to a lot of high schoolers and young people in rural communities. I felt I should respect the sensibility of that demographic. Any political aspirations I have or had didn’t enter into it. In fact, if you listen to many of my Mayoral comments or look at my You Tube videos, I still have edgy or off-color material posted.
RM: You’ve been the mayor of Hillsboro, Ohio for almost two years now – half your elected term. During your campaign you said “I think this Country is going to hell in a hand basket – I don’t think we even make our own hand baskets here anymore. I can’t do anything about the U.S., but I can do something about the one place where I live.” Why is it that we no longer make our own hand baskets? In other words, what is the main reason you think that industry is slowly disappearing from this great country? And what mid-term grade would you give yourself as a mayor so far?
DH: I’m not an economist or expert on global capitalism, but I’d say that we, as a Country began losing industry to foreign markets early on because of our high union costs for manufacturing. That is much less of a factor now. Until we start protecting our markets and put our own citizens first, the powers that be will continue outsourcing America. They just don’t care.
As far as a mid-term grade for myself, I let the Citizens of my City judge that, though I think we’ve (my Administrative staff and City Council) have done a LOT to getting our City turned around financially and getting us poised to start doing some serious economic development.
RM: How important do you think self-deprecation is to your act? Do you think that comics can sometimes use too much of that approach; and that it can end up becoming a detriment to their set?
DH: For me, self-deprecation is very important. It goes back to audience perception and the “look” of a comedian. For example, a fat comedian or one who is visibly disabled, doesn’t require self-deprecation because there is already a perception from the audience that he is “imperfect” in some way. So the comedian in question can deprecate Society instead of himself – the perception is that he’s justified. With me, an audience member looks at me – I speak well, I am reasonably attractive, I’m in shape. So, in the audience’s mind, their perception is, “I don’t see anything wrong with him – why is he complaining about the world, or saying “poor me”? Self-deprecation is a way of saying, “I’m imperfect or flawed on the inside – mentally – that’s why you laugh at me. Because I’m as fucked up as you are – it’s just not visible to the naked eye. Does that make any sense? I hope so….
RM: You’ve made the comment that living in Hollywood was like being “stationed in Fort L.A.”…What were the main reasons that you decided to leave The Great Air Pollution Experiment and head back to the Midwest? Would you say that the overall experience of living in Los Angeles is overrated?
DH: Yes, the experience of living in L.A. is overrated. In fact, with the changing model of show biz and the Internet, L.A. is becoming more and more irrelevant. I tend to have a Midwest sensibility – Hollywood types are hyper ambitious and will walk over anyone to get where they need to. With a few exceptions, of course. I have a saying about Hollywood: “At the end of the day the Sun doesn’t set in L.A. – it just gives up and drops into the ocean with a bitter hiss.”
RM: What effects have technological advances such as Satellite Radio and YouTube had on comedy and the way people get to know about new comedians? Do you think terrestrial radio will still be around in a hundred years?
DH: I think it’s made it harder in some ways to make a name for yourself as a touring comedian because literally everyone can get their 15 minutes of fame out there and thus, it makes it harder for the serious comedian to stand out. I think terrestrial radio will be around. I actually think there will be a move back towards it because people like to hear about local or nearby events in their world. And that is the advantage of terrestrial radio.
RM: What’s up next for you in the remainder of 2014 and beyond? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
DH: I wish I knew what was up for me. Being Mayor has consumed a lot of both my time and energy. But I don’t regret it. It’s something I need to do and it’s my way of giving back to my community and Country. I am trying to figure out there I want to go creatively. I would like to get a book completed and do a book tour – which is really like doing standup except you get to read it from a book and look more respectable. :>)
Official Website: http://drewhastings.com/
Drew on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Drew-Hastings/152136374853709?fref=ts
Drew on Twitter: https://twitter.com/drewhastings
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