by Ryan Meehan
Justin Martindale is an LA based comedian originally from San Antonio, TX who has been seen as a guest on E!’s “Live From E!” As well as the series “Worst Thing I Ever…” In 2014, he was the co-creator for the hit Funny or Die web series “NOT LOOKING” which received high acclaim by Slate Magazine, The Advocate, Huffington Post, etc. He has written for the LEGENDARY Joan Rivers on Fashion Police and has opened for Sandra Bernhard, Whitney Cummings, and Fortune Feimster. He’s performed with Atlantis cruises and resorts and has been seen on LOGO TV’s “One Night Stand Up.” He can also be heard on such podcasts as “The Joe Rogan Experience” and the”Skeptic Tank” with comedian Ari Shaffir, and he’s my guest today in 10 questions.
RM: How would you best describe your childhood growing up in San Antonio? Were you always a kid who was trying to be funny in front of your peers, or was humor something that you didn’t come across until later in your life?
JM: I had the best time growing up in Texas. My childhood was just fun! Imagination and creativity were encouraged in the class and out of class. My family really pushed me to use my talents in theatre, improv and Interscholastic competitions. I never really “tried” to be funny, it just came to me naturally. I loved the feeling of making not only my peers laugh, but grown adults as well. Comedy just seemed like a perfect fit for me. Math however, can go play in traffic.
RM: What was your first interaction with stand-up like; and why do you think you became so attracted to the medium? When did you first envision yourself actually standing on stage and telling jokes to a room full of strangers; and at that point in time did you have any awareness of how difficult it was?
JM: I mean, I started stand up in October of 2008 right around the time of the recession. I was jumping from day job to day job, douchebag club to douchebag club just trying to make ends meet. Finally, I snapped and was like “WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE?!” I was watching this stand up special and the guy I was watching was, well…terrible and I thought “Hold up, I can do this!” So I just swallowed my fears, what do I have to lose? I called a venue that had a weekly show and did 6 minutes (which seemed like an hour) and for the first time, I had a feeling of self worth and a calling to my destiny. I was reminded of that feeling from childhood. I had a room full of people in my hand and there was no going back.
RM: What makes venues like The Comedy Store and The Laugh Factory far superior to some of the other clubs in the greater Los Angeles area? How much of that can be attributed to the environment which is present at both of those clubs?
JM: These clubs are superior absolutely! The Comedy Store, The Laugh Factory and….the Hollywood Improv. These venues are where comedy started. Everyone who is everyone has performed here. These clubs escalated the definition and platforms of what it truly is to be a professional stand up comic. Each club has its own feel, too. The Laugh Factory brings in the tourists and locals who want a quality comedy show. The Improv brings in industry and tourists who are familiar with their local Improvs in their area who want a taste of Hollywood, and the Store brings in the Rock and Roll whiskey drinking hooligans who always know how to party.
RM: What’s the biggest difference between writing comedy in a group for a sketch or a web-series as opposed to the work you did writing for the late Joan Rivers and her crew on “Fashion Police”? On a scale of one to ten, how fashionable would you consider yourself to be; and why would you give yourself that score?
JM: A sketch or web series is usually with a group of people you know. It can be fun and exhausting at the same time. You are dealing with people’s schedules, trying to get funding, a crew a cast etc. etc. With Joan, I was working with a legend and a team that had a set schedule and deadlines. It was truly an honor to sit across from her and sling out jokes for her. I still miss her deeply as I’m sure we all do. How fashionable am I? I mean I love to dress up don’t get me wrong (Tom Ford I’m looking at you.) but I’m a jeans and a t-shirt guy. I like a classic style, something timeless that doesn’t seem forced like a Taylor Swift lyric. As far as a score I’d give me a 7 till I start making the big bucks…then it’s ON!
RM: How much do you choose to work off of your sexual orientation? Does it bother you at all that straight comics probably don’t get asked that question as much as you do?
JM: At first, I felt really insecure about who I was. Every comic was on my nuts (no pun intended) about who and what I was. It’s something that I’ve grasped and has made me stronger to play in the boys club. It’s something that doesn’t make me as a person…it’s just one of the many layers to me that make me an entertainer. I don’t really bring it up. It’s obvious and it’s also 2015. Who cares what you are? Just be entertaining. There is something out there for everyone. If you don’t like me just because of my sexual orientation then, Girl…Bye.
RM: What are the biggest advantages and disadvantages of working the cruise circuit? Is that something you plan to do more of in the immediate future?
JM: I only did one cruise and it was an 11 day Mediterranean cruise. It was epic. Tons of parties and booze, and booze and parties. Beautiful destinations and awesome people that you kind of become friends with afterwards. It was fun. I’d like to do more. I love travel and adventure I mean who doesn’t? If the opportunity comes around, then yeah I’d consider it.
Editor’s Note: We now interrupt this interview for another interview Justin did recently where he explains what Grindr is to kids. This is definitely worth your time.
RM: Which inaccurate stereotype of stand-up comedians do you hate the most and why? Do you believe that there is anything within your personality that would serve to prove that misconception incorrect?
JM: That we are all broken human beings. There are those that are, but a lot of the ones I’m friends with are great people inside and out. It cracks me up when I go out with someone and they say “Don’t put that in your skit.” First off, it’s not a skit and second I have way more things to say then your embarrassing childhood story. Comics have a bad rap for being promiscuous, unfaithful and toxic. That’s just not the case with me. My standup is sharp and witty but with a handsome charming smile.
RM: What’s your approach to handling hecklers? Are you the type of comic who’s very passive and just kind of rolls over the disruption, or do you like to make an example out of them and handle it in a very direct manner?
JM: Ugh…hecklers. These are the instructions on how to come for me: 1. Don’t. If I notice a little disturbance in the crowd, I’ll simply brush it off and keep going. If it ensues, I will shut down my set and address the situation. If you are going to make the room uncomfortable and make an ass out of yourself, I will gladly help and make an ass out of you too…..but with a platform and a microphone. Let me assure you, it doesn’t look pretty.
RM: In all of your years of doing stand-up comedy, what’s the most bizarre thing that has ever happened to you on stage? How did you handle it at the time; and if it happened to you tonight do you think you would tackle the situation differently?
JM: I have two. One, I was on stage and Macy Gray was in the audience and I stopped everything and shouted “Holy Shit! Are you Macy Gray?” You know, like you do. She nodded and I started to sing “I Try” a capella and impersonating her vocally. By the end of it, the whole room was joining and we were all on our feet dancing and swaying. It was so surreal. The second was with a male country singer who was in the front row all cowboyed up and in the middle of my set, stood up and told me to “Take off my shirt.” and encouraged the audience to applaud so I would. I was like ummmmmm…Cantaloupe (which is my safe word) When I comfortably denied, he bought me a shot of whiskey and hi fived me. It ws sooo bizarre. If it happened tonight, I’d totally wear a tear away costume.
RM: Which portion of the comedic writing process would you say is your specialty; and why do you think that you excel at that particular facet of your craft? Can you foresee the answer to that question being different ten years from now?
JM: I like off the cuff observational material. I can whip up something really fun really quickly. Some of my best stuff has been on the spot that I can take and turn into a bit later. I’m definitely a storyteller for sure and I think I will be in 10 years from now. I’m happy and content with my style.
RM: What’s up next for you in the remainder of 2015 and beyond? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
JM: I have the second season of my web series “Not Looking” available on August 23 on Funny or Die. I’ve got some projects in the works for the Fall and some comedy dates in the works. Also, some really fun and exciting things for 2016 so stay tuned!!
Official Website: http://justinmartindale.com/
Justin on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Justin-Martindale/221878657923511
Justin on Twitter: https://twitter.com/justmartindale
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