By Ryan Meehan
If there’s one thing Adam Degi does well, it’s turning a negative in to a positive. He’s been taking Ex- Girlfriends, car accidents, and bad life choices and somehow making them funny since he stepped on a stage in 2005. He began performing everywhere he could before he won the Funniest Person in Grand Rapids, MI competition in 2009. He was part of the 4 man Twenty Something Funny Something Tour and has performed at festivals like Laugh Fest. He now travels the country performing at colleges sharing his sarcastic but likeable Stand Up routine as well as hosting a game show. Somehow he finds time to act in Sketch Comedy films and work the club circuit. He once got a standing ovation from the Harlem Globetrotters after telling a joke about their theme song. One day he would like to be black and entertain the world. Until that day comes, he’s our guest this week in 5 Questions.
FOH: Where is standup comedy as an art form heading into the summer of 2012?
AD: I think stand up comedy as an art form is headed in the right direction in 2012, for the most part. I think there’s more opportunity then ever right now as far as stage time and ways to get yourself and your brand of comedy out there with all the media outlets. We’ve got Youtube, Facebook, and now Twitter. Although a lot of comics would argue that the internet in general hurts comedy because some people think why go to the club when I can see a comic on Youtube for free in my living room? I like a lot of what I see just traveling in the Midwest as far as guys being original and not trying to be someone else although you still see a good amount of guys trying to be their favorite comic. I think Grand Rapids alone has a lot of talent and guys ready to make that next step. I’m hoping the older generation that is offended by a lot of things they shouldn’t be will eventually die or just stop coming to clubs. I wish I could say we’re getting closer to the point you just have to be funny to be successful but that’s as far from the truth as ever. Not a lot of guys starting out understand that at least 75% of being a comic and getting booked is the business side of things and who you know or what you do off stage. When you’re talking about jokes, just the art form itself, I think it’s headed in the right direction.
FOH: Could you share your worst experience “bombing” and describe a little bit what happened and where it may have started to go wrong?
AD: My worst experience bombing? Let’s be honest, I don’t bomb…I’m the goddamn Greatest. The honest answer is open mics and one nighter rooms can be god awful no matter how long you’ve been doing this. Small crowds in new rooms can equal disaster. I just did a one nighter last week with 20 people tops and all but one table decided to sit as far away from the stage as possible, it resulted in me getting of stage and doing my set with the table behind me and basically talking to each person individually in order for them to pay attention. The table behind me was a family with a son who just graduated from HS and they wanted no part of comedy. I hope the kid is addicted to meth before he turns 21. The worst in recent memory wasn’t what I would call bombing but there was someone front and center reading a book during my act for a good amount of time. I did an hour at a Catholic college in New Jersey. I called a day in advance to ask the women in charge of student entertainment what I could get away with and she said to do the show “like I was performing in front of middle schoolers”. This woman was not at the show so I still at least referenced sex and did maybe 20% of my normal act. It’s not impossible for me to go an hour without using profanity because I understand it’s not necessary to my success but it just doesn’t feel natural…and I did it. Thank god or Mary or someone for crowd work. They also had me in the back of a student lounge with a snack bar and the only path from the doors to the snack bar was directly in front of where I was performing so not 5 minutes went by without a group of students walking by talking. Most schools have you in an auditorium or somewhere to avoid a situation like this, but not this school. The group of 30 or so students sitting and paying attention enjoyed it and that’s all I ask for, except the girl reading a book. I hope the book was about cooking meth and she’s addicted before she graduates.
FOH: How would you describe the perception that most people have of a working comic?
AD: I think the perception most people have of a working comic is a hell of a lot better then it really is and I think most comics would agree. It’s not Velvet ropes, Limos and unlimited blow and hookers anymore. Some people probably think it’s easy to do what comics do, they’re right, it’s not difficult to be depressed. Making a room of complete strangers laugh is not the easiest task and it gets tougher the longer you’re on stage. I think most people think we’re all like ‘celebrities’ in some way. I wish, not true. One of the most demoralizing things is watching headliners come to your local comedy club that are hilarious and no one has ever heard of them because they don’t have a shit TV or movie credit. You realize how many funny comics are out there and how difficult it really is to catch a break. I’m just trying to feature in more clubs and I can’t wait for the day I can headline and be bitter about the fact the average person doesn’t know me when everyone knows I’m funnier then Pauly Shore and Dustin Diamond (Screech). I think a lot of people are under the impression that we fly everywhere, not many of us can afford that. Sometimes we drive across the country, sometimes we get an oil change twice in 2 weeks because we’ve put so many miles on our car, sometime we think about crossing the median into oncoming traffic. Really I just don’t think the average person realizes the work put in to a half hour or hour act as far as writing, polishing and perfecting….not to mention getting to shows and putting up with off stage bullshit. When I say off stage bullshit I mean meth.
FOH: What’s the most annoying thing that you’ve had to deal with as a standup comic, onstage or behind the scenes?
AD: The most annoying thing I’ve had to put up with on stage is myself, but really…I constantly do open mics where I should be trying all new material instead of using polished stuff for good laughs and I continue not to. The only way to get better and build material is to do it, you have to be comfortable with bombing…and I’m not completely but I’m getting better. I don’t have a problem with hecklers for the most part because I’ve never really felt like a heckler got the best of me to this point….I’m sure it will happen, just not yet. In my experience most hecklers have made my set better and sometimes saved me from having a bad set. Thanks, idiots. The most annoying thing off stage is definitely just getting booked. It’s the most difficult thing by far. I’ll never understand why I’m booked some places but not others. The day I understand the business of comedy is the day I’ll check myself in to a mental hospital because you’re just not supposed to understand…I think. If I had any advice for guys in the beginning it would be not to compare yourself to others, it just isn’t good for your confidence or your attitude towards comedy. Some people will get things you don’t, that’s life in general. Get over it and make the people laugh in front of you. The one thing off stage that really gets to me is just having the reputation as a ‘dirty comic’, I guess it doesn’t take much to get this reputation because honestly I don’t find myself to be that dirty. The problem with this is getting booked in some rooms and for corporate shows. Sometimes it upsets me that clean comics have an arrogance and attitude like they’re better or funnier then the so called ‘dirty’ comics. I think my act is original and molded from things that have actually taken place in my life and I’ll take that over being clean any day. I opened for a guy a while back that actually pointed out and stressed the fact he didn’t use profanity and was clean while on stage after I got off. He was right, he was clean, but he was the definition of hack and out of date. I refuse to be that guy, I would literally rather be addicted to meth. Oops I just broke the more than 3 times call back rule. This is another thing that irritates me is these rules that someone made up for comedy and we’re all supposed to live by. Thanks, but no thanks.
FOH: What’s off limits when it comes to “dark” material for you?
AD: The things that are off limits to me are things that I haven’t figured out how to make funny. That is and forever will be the only reason I won’t talk about something, because I haven’t figured out how to make it funny. I don’t think you should ever talk about religion, politics or anything if you’re just using the stage as a soapbox to express your opinions about certain subjects. At the end of the day the objective is to be funny right? You can tell dick jokes or you can tell Obama jokes, just make them funny. For me comedy is therapy in a lot of ways, I’ve turned a lot of terrible things that happened in my life into jokes. It’s helped me on stage and off stage a ton. If I didn’t figure out how to make these things funny I wouldn’t talk about them. Recently I found out my dad has third stage lung cancer, I haven’t talked about this yet, because I haven’t found a way to make it funny, but I will, and it will help me on stage and off stage.
FOH: What do you have planned for the next twelve months?
AD: In the next 12 months I’ll be doing a lot of one nighters and a handful of clubs going into the fall. I’m looking forward to working rooms for the first time and hopefully having a website in the next year. Unfortunately I think I’m done doing college shows. The entertainment agency I was working for is terrible. At this point they owe me thousands of dollars and the driving and time just wasn’t worth it. I’m currently trying to work more clubs and get into some festivals.
Adam’s Upcoming Schedule:
7/7 – Dr.Grins Grand Rapids,MI (Host)
7/10 – Village Pub Pentwater,MI
7/11 – Sands Casino Peshabestown,MI
7/12 – Turtle Creek Casino Williamsburg,MI
7/13 – Wisecrackers Merrillville,IN
7/14 – Wisecrackers Merrillville,IN
7/19 – Dr.Grins Grand Rapids,MI (Host)
7/20 – Dr.Grins Grand Rapids,MI (Host)
7/21 – Dr.Grins Grand Rapids,MI (Host)
9/13 – Dr.Grins Grand Rapids,MI (Ft with Godfrey)
9/14 – Dr.Grins Grand Rapids,MI (Ft with Godfrey)
9/15 – Dr.Grins Grand Rapids,MI (Ft with Godfrey)
9/19 – Joey’s Livonia,MI
9/20 – Joey’s Livonia,MI
9/21 – Joey’s Livonia,MI
9/22 – Joey’s Livonia,MI
Adam on Twitter: @ADAMDEGI
Adam on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mobileprotection#!/TeachMeHowToDegi
Adam’s homepage: https://www.facebook.com/#!/adam.degi
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