by Ryan Meehan

Henry Phillips  has been seen and heard performing his twisted songs and stories on ‘Comedy Central Presents’, ABC’s ’Jimmy Kimmel Live’, satellite and terrestrial radio nationwide. His critically acclaimed albums, fusing mellow folk-rock ballads with psychopathic lyrics have earned him mention in Billboard magazine’s ’Critic’s Choice’, as well as acclaim from such notable artists as Moby, who refers to Phillips’ songs as “disconcertingly funny”. His semi-biographical comedy film “Punching the Clown” received the Audience award at Slamdance film festival ’09, and is currently available on Netflix and iTunes.  And we were glad to have him today as our guest today in 5 Questions.  

RM:  You’ve said before that you wouldn’t be doing this if it weren’t for comedian Doug Stanhope, who is one of the best comics working today.  What were those first shows touring with him like and how did he help you to realize your potential as a comedian?

HP: I had been doing comedy for 5 years around LA and it was still a mystery to me how you could make any money doing it. I was just about to quit, and then Doug started taking me on the road as his opener, and I got to meet the club bookers, and got the confidence that I could have a career doing it. I also started getting airplay on the Bob and Tom show, and touring with Drew Hastings, which helped a lot as well. Doug is definitely an inspiration to all comics, because it seems to be his whole life, and he’s carved his own path in a business that’s extremely difficult no matter what level you’ve reached. Those early shows were fantastic. I learned that you can be your own boss when you’re on stage, and that being on the road can be wildly fun.

RM:  What are the  most important elements that result in making up a “good room”?  Are there some rooms that no matter how hard you try, you just can’t reach the patrons and make them laugh?

HP: Most of the best rooms seem to have a few things in common. They all have a well developed local scene, with an organized and publicized open mic. Also, the bookers take pride in the acts they book. They’re more interested in making sure the audience has a good experience, than booking an act that they know will draw a lot of people, but not necessarily deliver a good show. The worst ones are the ones that give everybody free tickets just to sell a bunch of drinks. Those audiences tend not to care about the comedy they’re watching, and so they don’t pay attention during the shows.

RM:  What did you set out to do by putting together the project that eventually became “Punching The Clown”?  How much of that movie is about you as a comic as opposed to comedy in general?

HP: “Punching the Clown” is a collection of stories taken from my day to day experiences, and strung together into a full length movie, with a fictional plot. Originally we thought of making a documentary/mockumentary, but that genre was too played out by the time we started, so we decided to commit to an old fashioned feature, with characters/plot and everything. It’s all about me, but I suppose a lot of it is about comedy in general, since that’s what I do professionally in the movie.

RM:  There seems to be a lot more musical comedy these days, when you look at the success of groups like Garfunkel and Oates and how Tenacious D was stepping forward a few years back.  Do you feel like there is a bigger market for what you do as opposed to the way it may have been viewed in the early 90s?

HP:  I do feel like when I started there wasn’t quite as much that was really popular, other than Tenacious D and of course Adam Sandler. Flight of the Conchords was also hugely successful with it. Although I think a lot of those acts lean more toward the musical aspect of it, whereas I lean a little more toward the comedy. I do a lot of standup in my shows, so I’m influenced by both music acts and Comedians. But I think there will always be a market for something that’s funny, whether it’s presented in music, impressions, juggling, or whatever. The important thing is to make sure people are laughing.

RM:  Your website header simply says “What I take from life, I give back through my art, and so far I’ve taken nothing but crap”  What do you mean by that?

HP: Ha, that’s just a straight ahead one-liner joke. Apparently not a very good one. (Deleting it)

RM:  Which song that you have written is your favorite?  Why does that particular track stick out in your mind as the most memorable?

HP:  I’d say the “End of the World” is my favorite. There’s something about it that encapsulates the things I want to do: A sincere delivery, verses that end in non-rhyming phrases that hit you by surprise, an overall fun message, and taking something that some people think is so serious and showing how silly it is.

RM:  What’s up next for Henry Phillips in the remainder of 2013?  Anything big in the works that we should know about?

HP: I’m excited about developing Punching the Clown into a TV series, which has been a little challenging. I also have a new web series called “You and You’re Fucking Coffee” that I’ll be doing more of. It’s on Youtube.

Henry’s Official Website:  http://www.henryphillips.com/

Henry on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Henry-Phillips/105601826260

Henry on Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Henlips

Once again thanks for visiting First Order Historians and enjoying more of the internet’s finest in user generated content.




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