by Ryan Meehan
Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, Kermet Apio enjoyed a childhood in paradise. He spent his time watching television, playing, and procrastinating with regards to everything else. To this day, he still does all three extensively. After graduating from high school, Kermet moved to Seattle to attend the University of Washington. Seattle became home. In early 1989, Kermet did his first open mic night at the Comedy Underground in Seattle. Comedy was a fun hobby. In May of 1990, he quit his job, said good bye to health care and benefits, and took the leap to performing full time. It is still his only job skill. He was the winner of the 2009 Great American Comedy Festival and has had numerous appearances on television and radio. He has showcased at comedy festivals in Aspen, Las Vegas, and Vancouver and has performed in 47 states and 3 Canadian provinces. He is a past winner of the Seattle Comedy Competition and was a semi-finalist in the San Francisco Comedy Competition. Also, in 1988 he was Dishwasher of the Month at the Sea-Tac Airport Denny’s. Kermet is married and the proud father of two wonderful children. He enjoys his family, baseball, and pie. He does not enjoy opera, sitting in traffic, and writing about himself in the third person. Kermet Apio is our guest today in 7 questions.
RM: Why did you pursue a career in comedy after having such a successful and promising future in washing dishes? What made you really want to get into the entertainment industry and keep getting up on stage to make people laugh after your first open mic?
KA: I liked being around comedians. They were odd, weird, blunt, and fun. I pursued it as a hobby at first, a great hobby. And after a while I got enough gigs to take a chance at full time.
RM: From a professional standpoint, how important do you feel it is to establish a good reputation with your peers within the comedy industry as well as the club owners and bookers? Do you think for the most part that the individuals you work with have a positive opinion of you and your skill set?
KA: It is very important to maintain relationships in comedy. For the first few years word of mouth and recommendations are the best way to get work. Plus there are so many comics out there that unless you’re absolutely brilliant, the club has many other people they can choose instead of you. And the industry communicates well, so if you are a bad person or a thief or whatever, it travels the grapevine quickly. As far how I’m perceived I have no idea. But I will say that many very funny and nice comedians have helped me along the way.
RM: Why are you not a fan of opera? If this was a phoner and you had to sing all of these answers back to me, would you have agreed to this interview in the first place?
KA: To me Opera is like the radishes. If it’s the only choice and I have to choose, fine, but it’s way down the list of what I’d consume. Don’t hate it, just like every other music choice better.
RM: What was the purpose of naming the album “Unarmed and Lethargic”? You have a pretty laid back stage persona…How close is the comedian Kermet Apio to the guy that talks to the crowd after the show?
KA: “Unarmed and Lethargic” comes from a line in the show where I am mocking the concept of a police dispatcher describing me as a suspect. Seemed like a pretty good way to describe my comedy as well. And my act is about 30% more energetic than my real life persona. Depending on the time of day.
RM: How do you sell yourself as the right comedian to choose for a corporate gig? When you do corporate work, do you research the company extensively and try to write material that is specific to that particular industry?
KA: I don’t try to write specific jokes about a company because they probably have heard all of them. What I do is I try and write bits that have to do with my relationship to their product or service, which is what I do anyway for every other topic in my show. As far as selling myself as the right comedian, I’m not sure if that’s what I actually do. I feel like I sell myself as one of the choices you have and go from there. Probably not the best strategy, but I’m not known for great strategies.
RM: Has being a father changed the way that you approach writing new bits? How old are your children and how familiar are they with what you do for a living?
KA: My kids are 12 and 9 and in the past two years they have seen me work a lot. Being a father really helped me focus on what my voice should be. Jokes started to have more meaning, more emotion. It was important to focus because all of a sudden I had to feed other human beings. It helped my writing a lot.
RM: When did you learn to play the guitar; and does that help you get your mind off of comedy when you need a break from working on new material or travelling to do shows?
KA: Exactly. The first week after I quit my day job I was on the road in a scary motel and went for a walk. I was passing a pawn shop and saw a guitar for $40. I realized my hobby just became my job and needed another hobby. Like you said, it really helped keep sanity while on the road. Especially at the beginning when shows were tough. And they were. More often than I’d like to admit.
RM: What’s the one thing that you’d love to do in the entertainment industry that you haven’t had the opportunity to do yet? In ten years, do you think that you’ll be able to say you’ve done it?
KA: Letterman. I have been a huge fan since I was kid. He is such a big influence on me and doing his show is the one thing I’ve always considered the big accomplishment in comedy. Seeing that he is retiring soon I don’t see it happening. Still, I’ve had a pretty good run.
RM: What’s up next for you in the remainder of 2014? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
KA: Nope. Traveling America telling jokes. Same as always.
Official Website: http://www.ikerm.com/HOME.html
Kermet on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kermetapio
Kermet on Twitter: https://twitter.com/kermetapio
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