by Ryan Meehan
Drew Lynch was an eager young actor and a classic “chatterbox”, notorious for talking a mile a minute. Born in Indiana and raised in Las Vegas, he graduated from the Las Vegas Academy of Performing Arts with aspirations of becoming a fully articulate film actor. Then something unimaginable and completely unpredictable happened; at only age 20, during a company softball game, Drew got hit in the throat with the ball causing his vocal chords to paralyze, turning his chattering into stuttering. This life changing injury sparked a passion for writing and performing Standup Comedy, bringing to life the social hardships of dealing with a newly-found speech impediment. Inspired by the comedy of Louis C.K., Dave Chappelle, and the up and coming Samuel J. Comroe, Drew is on a mission to make you laugh and he’s our guest today in 7 questions.
RM: What made you want to get into the business of being funny? What were some of your favorite comedians and sitcoms when you were younger?
DL: Actually my friend Samuel J. Comroe inspired me to try stand-up. I had always thought I was funny haha (though I’m sure I wasn’t) and at the time of my accident, he was performing frequently at the comedy club I worked at. He was my favorite comedian to watch. I guess things just line up that way sometimes. Sitcoms? I always liked The Office, British or American.
RM: You went to a school for the performing arts – Do you feel that it adequately prepared you for the world of comedy and how clubs are owned and operated? Do you think that type of training is something that can be taught, or simply has to be learned on the job?
DL: I did go to a performing arts school- for acting mostly- that focused heavily on the professionalism of the workplace. I’m not sure you can ever be prepared for much past that, especially in comedy haha… one night you’re making people fall out of their chairs and another night that same material is flat-lining. I can never anticipate how a show is gonna go. I think there is training for basic things; stage presence, how to hold the microphone, how not to curse out the audience. But in this business you get to offer your own unique perspective on anything (be it a struggle or an observation or a political view) which is innately what separates you from other comedians.
RM: Could you take us through that day that you were injured in the softball game and your life was changed forever? How soon did you realize that things were different when it came to the way you were communicating?
DL: Haha I love retelling this story because usually you get to see the embarrassment on my face. Luckily this interview is virtual so I get to blush and spell check the words I’m typing… Basically I was playing softball on a company team which had other people who also worked at the comedy club. That day I was playing shortstop, which wasn’t unusual, because I often switched from outfield to infield. In a company league, you have to alternate between girls and guys who are up to bat… Girl, guy, girl, guy, etc… While the other team was at bat, they had just had this smaller young girl at the plate, and as a fielder you’re supposed to adjust how close up you are in proportion to how large the batter is. Naturally my instinct is to play a little bit forward, so you can field the ball faster and get hopefully make a double-play. This petite girl had a great hit (no she’s not the one who hit me lol) which was hit to our third baseman. Going in the “girl, guy, girl, guy” pattern, this meant a guy was up next to bat. Now for whatever reason- talking, or chatting, or daydreaming about food- I didn’t adjust my fielding position to move back, seeing as this other team’s largest hitter was now about to show me exactly how soft a softball was. He hit the hardest grounder I’d probably ever remember, which took a bad hop right under my chin, on the left side of my throat. That was as much as I can really recall from that day, but I’m told by people who were there that I fell down and had to lay on the bench and that I seemed a bit starry-eyed. Like my eyes looked like glazed donuts haha, which means I probably was daydreaming about food. The next morning I woke up talk-ing li-ike th-is. And my roommate rushed me to the hospital. Doctors told me I had slept on a concussion, and that I had some minor nerve damage in my vocal cords. Their diagnosis was I’d be all better in 2 weeks. It’s been over 2 years haha.
RM: You got to do some shows as the opening act for Bo Burnham, which has to be a tall order given the flying circus that he puts on night after night…Did you think about incorporating music into your own act when you were first approached about doing those shows? What’s the most important thing that you learned from watching what he does on stage?
DL: Bo is one of the coolest people I’ve ever met. He was actually the one who asked me to open for him, which made me feel like I was getting a purple heart or something haha. I felt honored. I used to be able to sing, and even if I still could I don’t think I would ever incorporate music into what I do now. Especially when the master of parody and musical ingenuity is asking you to open for him haha. The most important thing I learned from Bo is to stay humble. I feel I’m a humble person, but he reminded me to stay that way. He’s an incredibly appreciative and grounded person, and he wants the best for his fans and for other rising comedians.
RM: During the writing process, do you ever run across a bit that you’d love to use but because of your disability you don’t think it would work so you have to abandon it? How do you recover from the disappointment of those moments and what do you tell yourself so that you can move on and write the next joke?
DL: Sometimes I feel I can’t do what somebody like Seinfeld or Louis does. They’re brilliant at taking something small or overlooked, and expanding it into something amazing. Audiences are usually very understanding but there’s only so much patience you can ask from them. And even so, I can never just go right into observational humor like “Hey what’s up with microwaves having clocks?” I always have to address my voice, make jokes to show I’m okay with it, and THEN I’m usually able to talk about other things. Initially I thought I was only able to talk about the difficulty of stuttering, because I thought that’s all audiences wanted to hear. But really they just want to hear someone who’s funny say funny things.
RM: What’s the best thing that has happened to you so far during your stand-up career? What was going on in your head as it was happening; and why was that particular moment so moving to you?
DL: I think the best thing that’s happened to me was having a guy approach me after a show, who also stuttered, and express how inspired he was. Despite how long this conversation was haha, he told me that THIS is what I was born to do. That THIS was exactly where I was supposed to be. It’s tough you know because I’d say 1 in 5 audience members thinks I’m a hack, or that I’m doing a character. They don’t see the loss I’ve taken to be where I am. They don’t see the validity of a stuttering standup comedian, and that this is how I cope with it. And that’s discouraging sometimes to know that you’re putting your heart on the line in a room full of people, and they don’t believe it. But this kid made me feel sure of myself. Made me feel like a Rockstar. Not the energy drink.
RM: What’s the one thing that you’d love to do in the entertainment industry that you haven’t had the opportunity to do yet? In ten years, do you think that you’ll be able to say you’ve done it?
DL: I want to have a sitcom. I think my job is to show people in entertainment that just because you’re disabled doesn’t mean you CAN’T do something. Josh Blue, a very talented comedian with CP says that “we’re all disabled, mine’s just lucky enough to be on the outside”. I don’t see why as accepting of a country we’re becoming cannot see someone having CP or a stutter or TS or paralysis on television. Making people laugh. I want to have said I did that in 5 years from now haha. I’m impatient, which is hilarious because I end up waiting on myself all the time.
RM: What’s up next for you in the remainder of 2014? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
DL: I’m going on tour with my hilarious bestie Samuel J. Comroe. There may be talk of a reality/comedy series in the works starring us two on the road… haha… keep a look out… Hopefully we’ll be coming to a college or club near you! *points to TV screen like a politician* Thanks for this awesome interview!
Official Website: http://drewlynch.com/
Drew on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheDrewLynch
Drew on Twitter: https://twitter.com/thedrewlynch
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