by Ryan Meehan
In November of 1979 Eddie Clark and a friend walked into the Original Improvisation Comedy Club in New York City to audition for a regular spot at the club. Eddie got a chance to show the owner what he could do and despite his lack of experience, he thrilled everyone in the club that night…. Everyone… except the owner. The club’s policy was that if the owner liked you she would talk to you. If she didn’t, the performer was to just walk by her without saying a word. As Eddie left the stage the owner looked away. Eddie walked outside with his friend and then suddenly turned around walked back into the club and whispered in the startled owner’s ear, “ Thanks for the opportunity to show the “PEOPLE” what I can do.” He has lived by that motto ever since. Eddie then left the club and never looked back. The New York Improv closed a few years later, but Eddie is still going strong. Old enough to remember the sixties yet young enough to enjoy the new millennium, Eddie Clark is still one of the hardest working comics on the circuit today. Eddie was born in Jamaica… QUEENS, NY and raised in the city of Mount Vernon, NY, where he developed his ability to induce laughter from total strangers. Eddie’s humor is a blend of personal experiences and everyday life. Eddie’s stand up has made him a favorite on morning radio shows around the country and has opened opportunities for him to help raise money and awareness for the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure. Eddie appeared on Law & Order S.V.U. , the films “Blood Night” and “CAMP”( Currently available on HBO ), “Salted Nuts” (featured at the 2006 “Sundance Film Festival” ) , ” The Flying Scissors.” , “and the Law & Order made for TV movie “Exiled” as well as several commercials & promo’s including, “TV Land Prime Movies, The Washington Post, OPTIMUM ONLINE, Major League Baseball, New York Presbyterian Hospital, Comcast Cable, Monster.Com, Nick Jr. , National Geographic Channel, ADVANTA, Care One Credit, Quicken Loans, A&E “Cold Case Files,” Gothic Cabinet Craft, Red Lobster, Cablevision, Fox Sports and WCBS (New York channel 2). In 2003 Eddie appeared nationally on ESPN 2’s “Cold Pizza” (which became the hugely successful morning show First Take) and hosted two online shows at the U.S. Tennis Open for the U.S.T.A. and America Online. In 2004 Eddie Appeared on C.M.T. (Country Music Television). The show (40 Greatest Done Me Wrong Songs) was one of the Top 5 Highest Rated Specials for C.M.T. in 2004, and he then went on to do two more specials for the network in 2005. Eddie just finished working on a new project touting the advantages of natural gas which will be on your TV soon! Eddie has expanded his comedy to radio as a former co-host WPYX (Clear Channel) on RACEDAY on the Foxsports radio network & Sirus. You can now see Eddie on “Person of Interest” (CBS) “House of Cards” (NetFlix) and “VEEP” (HBO) When describing Eddie’s style of entertainment one can only come to this conclusion…. It’s just Eddie being Eddie, and I have Eddie as my guest today in 7 questions.
RM: What was your initial inspiration for getting on stage and trying your hand at comedy? Was the love of being up there something that happened instantly, or did it take a while for you to really feel like you not only were enjoying what you were doing but also in control of the crowd itself?
EC: I was in college and I spent most of my free time in the student lounge. I was always cutting up and making people laugh. One day a girl (who I’d end up marrying) asked me if I would M.C. the student talent show. I agreed and was enjoying myself until I found out that there was prize money involved. I was supposed to entertain the crowd after the last performer, while the judges went out to pick a winner. I instead announced that there was one more performance and went on to a 10 minute set that won me 3rd place.
RM: What is it about racing that really drew you to the sport? At what point did you become comfortable discussing the logistics and strategy of racing on the air?
EC: I used to ride with my dad, who was a truck dirver as he went through the south. Back in the 60’s and 70’s it was mostly AM radio so my dad and I would listen to NASCAR and country music. I really became comfortable about talking about all phases of NASCAR after I met Richard Petty at the opening of the NASCAR Hall Of Fame in Charlotte, N.C. I interviewed him and had a chance to talk NASCAR with him after my interview. I learned a lot, including how well I knew my NASCAR. I came back to Albany, NY and WPYX with a new sense of confidence.
RM: Why is it that more comics don’t do sports-related material in their act? Is there a certain fear they may lose large portions of the audience that might not be into sports at all? How do you make the bits in which you discuss sporting events relevant to the entire crowd so that doesn’t happen?
EC: Sports and comedy can be strange bedfellows…Have you ever watched the ESPY’s or the NASCAR Awards show? It’s possible to lose an audience if your hook is sports unless you’re a well known impressionist or former athlete. As for me, I make it a point to only talk about things that I’ve done or seen and when it comes to sports I’ve done and seen a lot. I think that when people come to my show the can see that I’ve experienced what I talk about. As a result they want to learn more and they don’t become bored. I’ve done bits about hockey, NASCAR, tennis, soccer, even curling. I guess it comes down to how you present it.
RM: You’ve done some Carnival Cruise gigs before…What are the best and worst aspects of doing comedy on a ship surrounded by a bunch of complete strangers?
EC: I’ve worked on several cruise lines and I must admit, Carnival is the best line for comedians. It’s the only one that gives its passengers a comedy club feel. The worst part? Being on a ship for long periods of time and the stealing of material by a lot of comics on ships. Some comics only work ships and come off long enough to head out to a “open mic” and pilfer the material of other comics. The cruise lines have no standards when it comes to this practice. The comic on the ship gets away with it because chances are the comic they stole from will never work ships. Finally, ships present a false sense of how popular you are. Most people won’t remember your name 24 hours after they get off the ship. Ships are a great way to make one and gain a few fans but that’s about it.
RM: When you watch one of your appearances on television, are you as critical of yourself as when you are watching a video of your stand-up? What things do you tend to critique first when it comes to checking yourself out on video?
EC: I’m about to celebrate 35 years in this business and I still don’t think I’m good enough. I’m never satisfied with a film or T.V. appearance. My biggest problem with myself is, I always see how I could have made it better by the time I see it. I still take scripts and practice them after the performance has been made public. To this day, I can recite the lines from any film or commercial that I’ve been in except “Gothic Cabinet Craft.” That spot still screws me up.
RM: Where are your favorite clubs to perform at in each region of the country? What environmental elements do you consider to be necessary in order to produce a killer comedy environment?
RC: Favorite club in the northeast is The Comedy Works in Albany, NY. In the south, Comedy Cabana in Myrtle Beach, SC. In the Midwest it’s Snickerz in Fort Wayne, Ind. Out west The Comic Strip in El Paso, Tx. Every club has the one ingredient that is critical to a good performance…… THE PEOPLE! Everybody is different in different parts of the country. I work that to my advantage.
RM: Which aspect of the writing process to you tend to struggle with the most and why? Conversely, which part of writing jokes would you consider to be your specialty; and why do you think you excel at that particular component of the practice?
EC: I don’t have trouble with writing anymore because I don’t write for the people that can put you on the late show, Letterman etc. I’m 58 years old and am considered a dinosaur to those people. I’m best when I write for the people about my experiences. In a nutshell, I think I’m good at writing material because I don’t care what the industry thinks.
RM: What’s up next for you in the remainder of 2015 and beyond? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
EC: I just finished guest appearances on House of Cards and VEEP. Both come out over the next month. I just opened a comedy club with my partner in Chambersburg, PA. I’m looking forward to more TV and movie appearances as well as more stand up. I love what I do and glad stand up picked me. I’m Eddie Clark, we’ll talk soon.
Eddie on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Eddie-Clark-Comic/211505778933445
Eddie on Twitter: https://twitter.com/eddieclarkcomic
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