By Ryan Meehan
Bret Ernst is considered one of the best comedians in the business today, and has been written up in trade magazines like The Hollywood Reporter and Variety, as well as being mentioned in national magazines like Maxim, Entertainment Weekly, and Rolling Stone. His “Comedy Central Presents” was voted one of the Top 5 specials of 2011 by Comedy Central viewers, and his comedy album “American Comic” broke the top 10 on iTunes the first week of its release in 2012. He has made celebrity appearances on “Chelsea Lately”, ABC’s “Comics Unleashed”, the “Top Ten” on E! and “The Sports List” on FOX. Bret first gained national notoriety starring in the feature film “Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show”, which documented Ernst with Vaughn & three other comedians as they performed in a 30 night-30 venue tour across America. Bret had a recurring role on the hit Showtime series “Weeds”, was seen on “CSI: NY”, and also appeared in Artie Lange’s movie “Beer League”. Bret hosted the Oxygen Series “Love Games: Bad Girls Need Love Too” as well as “Wrestling Society X” on MTV. His stand-up has been featured on “The Late Late Show” on CBS, Comedy Central’s “Premium Blend”, the Showtime series “Comics Without Borders”, “Lopez Tonight” on TBS, and was most recently seen on the Kevin Hart series “One Mic Stand” on BET. Born in New Jersey, Ernst went to high school at Plantation High in South Florida, played collegiate level football at C.W. Post in New York, and currently resides in Los Angeles. Bret performs internationally and to sold out crowds in top clubs across America, and he’s our guest today in 5 Questions.
RM: Other than the French vodka, what makes Bret Ernst an “American Comic”?
BE: Ha! The Vodka is actually a reference from a joke, and well, I was born in America, so that’s a good reason right there!
RM: How did you become a part of the Wild West Comedy Tour? Did Vince personally contact you and ask you to be a part of that? What was that whole experience like for you?
BE: I meant Vince at a popular comedy spot in LA back in ’02’ . It was at a bar called Dublin’s and it was run by one of our best friends, Ahmed Ahmed (he was in the movie with me as well,) and another comedian Jay Davis (from Dane Cook’s “Tourgasm”.) He frequented the place often and had his favorite comedians to watch, so when he had the idea to do the tour, he already knew who he wanted to have on it. It was one of the best times of my life! We performed 30 cities in 30 nights, and I got to tour with my best friends and live on a bus. It was like Spring Break for 30 year olds.
RM: When it comes to writing material for standup comedy, where is the area in the middle of the Venn diagram in which relatability meets innovation? In other words, during the writing process how do you find a happy medium between the two without doing bits that have been done a million times before?
BE: I think if you stick to your truth, what makes you laugh, and your perspective on things, then it will always be original, even if it’s been a topic that’s already been covered. There are over 300 million people in America and close to 7 billion people in the world. Comedy is considered one of the most subjective art forms, so there is no way everybody is going to laugh at the same things. You just do “you,” and those that like what “you” do, will find “you.” Not all music was made to make you dance, and not all music was made to make you think. Comedy’s the same way. I guess what I’m trying to say is, you stay fresh when you keep it as real to you as possible, just as long as you are keeping it honest, and by that I mean…NO JOKE STEALING!!!!!
RM: What will you miss most about doing “Weeds” now that it is over?
BE: I was only in two episodes (end of season two, and beginning of season 3.) I was the Armenian guy who killed her DEA agent husband…Btw, you know your parts suck when you have to explain to people who you were. So, I guess what I miss most about “Weeds” is doing all the other episodes!
RM: I see you played football at the collegiate level…what position? Is there anything that you can take from your participation in sports and apply it to handling hecklers in a club setting? Do you have any good heckler stories and what have you found is the best method of dealing with them?
BE: I was a tight end in high school, and an outside linebacker in college. What I love about sports and comedy is the forced accountability of it. I love that my success and failure is all up to me. I hate people who make excuses and comics who blame the crowds, which is a great segue to the other half of your question. There are hecklers and then people who are disruptive. Hecklers are fun to deal with and shit on, even though I hate them. Disruptive people, well you just ask them to leave because they are just making noise and being drunk assholes. I just had a situation in Baltimore where a woman came on stage when I was performing. She was upset at something I said, and decided to interrupt the show. It was awesome because she was so drunk that the crowd started booing her and she cried. She then yelled at everyone and ran out of the room. Her friends stayed to watch the rest of the show because they all hated her. She tried to come back in and the club wouldn’t let her back in, so she had to wait outside for about an hour. It was Hysterical!
RM: What do you hope to achieve within the entertainment industry that you have not already accomplished?
BE: I would like to get a regular role on a series and start getting bigger roles in movies. Those two episode arcs and one liners aren’t really going to win me any awards!
RM: What’s next for Bret Ernst in the twelve months to come? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
BE: We’ll I’m very close to getting my hour special, so look for that in the near future. I also have a full stand-up schedule till the end of the year, so look for me coming to your town! Can’t wait to see you at a show…just don’t jump on stage when I’m performing 😉
Bret’s Official Website: http://www.breternstlive.com/
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