by Ryan Meehan
Daniel Carrillo is a stand-up comic and writer that grew up and was bullied in Abiliene, TX. before moving to Nashville at 18. When he was 21, Daniel started performing stand-up because he was a big boy that could do whatever he wanted. His stand-up provides a unique take on his life, relationships, dogs, and providing general cynicism about the generation in which he grew up. In 2014, he performed in the Scruffy City Comedy Festival and has been doing shows all over the Southeast. His writing has been featured on numerous websites including The Impersonals, Thought Catalog, and Someecards. His tweets have been featured on Mandatory, The Chive, and Buzzfeed, to name a few. His parents support his decision to pursue comedy, and in, no way, wanted him to follow in the footsteps of his family and go to medical school. They can’t stress that enough. This coming April, Daniel will be featuring on the Comedians of Twitter tour and he’s also our guest today in 7 questions.
RM: What was the first thing that you can remember laughing at so hard that you couldn’t gather yourself and eventually lost your breath? How long thereafter did you first come to experience live stand-up comedy?
DC: I remember when I was 6 or 7, one of my neighbors had a thin lattice fence protecting their yard. They had spent an entire spring making it by hand. So, that following summer, my friend and I thought it would be a great idea to practice our karate moves on it and we spent a good hour breaking the fence while making stereotypical, borderline offensive, karate noises, and laughing our asses off. I was 8 or 9 when I first began listening to stand-up comedy. The first person I remember actually listening to was Jeff Foxworthy. But, as I grew older I loved listening to Dave Chappelle, Patton Oswalt, Jerry Seinfeld, Steve Martin. I was also a huge SNL fan growing up.
RM: How would you best describe the comedy scene in Nashville? For the most part is everybody pretty supportive of each other, or is there a fair share of negativity that seeps through the cracks?
DC: I think it’s sort of a mixed bag, honestly. But I think you get that with any city, except maybe Helena, Montana (not sure what comedy scene is like there). All in all, people are pretty supportive, but everybody is competing for the same thing: stage time. In Nashville, quality stage time comes at a premium, so there is a strong need to promote yourself. The scene is up-and-coming, though, with great shows popping up every week; a great sign of the trajectory the city is taking. Not to mention a slew of extremely talented local comics.
RM: What do we need to know about the Comedians of Twitter tour? Who are some of the other comics that you’ll be performing with; and how did you come to be involved with that project?
DC: It is an event started by comics Rob Elliott and Dan Lawler (whom I connected with over Twitter) over a year ago. They’ve put on shows in Las Vegas, Toronto, New York, and, now, New Orleans (from April 16-20). Comics from all over the nation, who have built a following on Twitter, get together to put on a showcase, record podcasts, and see what we can do beyond 140 characters. Bridget Phetasy, Jacob Givens, Dan Lawler, Rob Elliott, Valerie Tosi, Angie Davis, Rob Rubin, and myself will all be appearing. You can get details here.
RM: If we were to take Twitter and Facebook out of the equation, how would the industry of stand-up comedy be different than it is today?
DC: MySpace would still be thriving, probably. I think it’d be harder, for sure, since Twitter and Facebook are great ways to showcase your work off the stage to a larger audience. Many of my shows outside of Nashville are booked because of what I do online. I wouldn’t be actively booking shows outside of my region if it wasn’t for an online presence where people can see what you are capable of with the click of a button.
RM: Out of all of the great tweets you’ve come up with since you joined Twitter back in 2009, which would you say is your favorite and why?
DC: Yikes. That’s a tough one, since usually I hate everything I’ve ever written. A recent one that did well was this one…
I was watching The Bachelor one day (yeah, you read that right) and I thought, “How can my life have such pomposity?” This is the scenario that makes the most sense within the framework of how I live, which is why I love it.
RM: How much crowd work do you do during an average set? How do you know when the amount of crowd work that you’re doing is too much, and that it’s time to move on and return to the material which you had originally planned for the show?
DC: I try to do a decent amount of crowd work/improvisation because it settles me and keeps me present, and the crowd reacts to that. If I’m just slinging jokes blindly, I’m not being aware of the flow of my set, the crowd, or how they’re responding, I can lose them. Thinking on the fly and making comments and observations in the moment lets people know, “I’m here. I’m engaged. I know what’s going on.” It’s pretty easy when I realize I’m doing too much because you’ll lose them. Performing crowd work and material is a delicate balance.
RM: What is the most valuable piece of advice that you’ve ever received from another comedian who has had success in the industry; and how have you been able to apply that to your own career path?
DC: There’s so much great advice I’ve received, because as a writer you get a ton of rejection and as a stand-up, there’s a lot of competition. It’s hard not to get discouraged. I was talking with a former SNL contributor a while ago and our conversation boiled down to this: comedy is a war of attrition. So if you keep at it, stay hungry and continue to create, you’ll get your shot. You just have to keep plugging away at it, getting reps, and being funny, and it will all work itself out.
I believe this holds true, because if it doesn’t, I’m screwed because I have nothing else on which to fall back.
RM: Which portion of the joke writing process would you say that you struggle with the most; and which aspect of constructing new bits would you consider to be your specialty? Do you think that there’s any possibility ten years from now the answers to those questions will be different?
DC: The hardest part about the writing process, itself, is figuring out what medium the joke will work in. I’m creating comedy on many platforms (articles, sketch, stand-up, Twitter, etc.) so I’m constantly trying to figure out where it would work the best. What’s worked in on stage may not necessarily translate to written word. I wouldn’t say I have a specialty. I write from my experience and try to make it translate to a larger audience, and so far it’s worked out well. And if it hasn’t nobody has told me. 10 years from now? I’m not sure how it’ll change. I mean, we are a couple years away from cars driving themselves, so I imagine a lot will change in the way I write or perform in 10 years.
RM: What’s up next for you in 2015 and beyond? Anything big in the works that I should know about?
DC: I plan on eating my fair share of sandwiches and watching the entire series of The Sopranos. But other than that, I have a couple things in the works that I’m not at liberty to share quite yet. The plan is to just continue to write, perform, and create. My sketch team is currently shooting a few videos that should be released this year that I’m really looking forward to, but other than that, just be on the lookout.
Daniel on Twitter: https://twitter.com/danielrcarrillo
Daniel on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheDanielCarrillo
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