by Ryan Meehan
A rising young talent, Tony Deyo is known for his sharp, quick material and near perfect comedic timing almost certainly gained from his years as a professional symphony musician. In 2013, he made his late night television debut on CONAN. Just a few months later, he made a second late night appearance on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. He performed at the prestigious HBO Aspen Comedy Festival, was named one of the year’s best by the New York Post, has been heard on the nationally syndicated Bob & Tom Radio Show, and can be heard regularly on SiriusXM Satellite Radio. And we are lucky to have him as our guest today in 7 questions.
RM: How does one make the career transition from professional symphony musician to comedian? Which instrument did you play and what orchestra did you play with?
TD: It is an odd transition, and it says it in my bio, but I really do believe music helped me become a good comedian. I was a percussionist, and I played with the Corpus Christi Symphony, the Greensboro Symphony, and a few times with the North Carolina Opera. All of them were so much fun. I had a lot of other musical jobs as well. I was a middle school band director in Texas, and I still write marching band shows during the summer.
RM: Do you generally try to work clean? What are some of the benefits and drawbacks to having a show with either limited or no profanity whatsoever?
TD: Yeah, “generally clean” is a good term for it. I’m sort of in a weird area as far as that goes. I usually don’t swear, but I talk about a few adult things. It’s not dirty or vulgar, but it’s not clean enough to do churches, which is sometimes the barometer. Honestly, I’ve gotten to a point where I prefer not to mention it, and I hope that people just walk away thinking I was funny. If they noticed that I didn’t swear, great. But it’s not what I want them to notice.
RM: The one thing that I seem to notice in all of your videos is that you smile a great deal. Does anybody ever ask you why you smile so much? Is that something that comes from loving the art form so much; or just the desire to communicate positivity and work towards fostering an environment where everyone has a good time?
TD: I wish there was a motive for it, but it’s just because I’m having a good time. There were a lot of years when you could really tell that I wasn’t. It was a criticism that I heard as a young comic. A booker said that when a joke bombed, I just wore it all over. You could see it on my face, and you could tell from my body language that I was disappointed.
RM: Another thing that I notice about your performances is that even when you are working a comedy club, you tend to wear a suit. Does it surprise you a little bit that a lot of comedians aren’t particularly well-dressed when they show up to a gig?
TD: Ha. Have you met comedians? It shouldn’t surprise you at all that they don’t dress up. I like doing it partly because it fits who I am as a comic, and partly because it helps me stand out. There are a million comics that wear what I call the “stand-up comedian uniform.” Jeans, button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up just so. I’m sure it’s comfortable, but it’s not particularly unique. Stand-up is a game of inches… it doesn’t hurt to stand out a little.
RM: Did you look at doing Ferguson any different than Conan because Craig’s show is on network television? Was there an increased sense of pressure, or was it a little easier because you had another late night show underneath your belt by that point?
TD: I didn’t look at them any differently, and it doesn’t feel any different when you’re taping them. There’s a studio audience, a host sitting off to your right, and a camera pointed at you. I felt, and I think you could tell from watching, that I was a little more comfortable with the Ferguson set. I had all of the first-time worries behind me. That doesn’t mean that there wasn’t any pressure, but a lot of the things that I was concerned about the first time, I didn’t have to worry about any more.
RM: Are there any topics that you try to avoid discussing on stage? Aside from controversial material that makes crowds uncomfortable, what’s the easiest way for a comedian to lose an audience?
TD: Politics is something I’ve always thought it was a bad idea to talk about. First of all, we hear enough about it already. Second, as soon as you declare yourself of a particular political party, you’ve lost half your audience. Yes, you can take shots at both sides… but you’ll never have the whole audience at the same time. I would just prefer to talk about things that everyone can laugh at.
RM: Do you find that you come up with most of your jokes on the road, or when you are at home? Why do you think that is; and do you set aside a specific time strictly dedicated to writing or do most of your bits come to you during your daily activities?
TD: I’m of the Seinfeld school of comedy, you treat stand-up like a job, because it is my job. I try to put in an hour of writing every day. If I can do that, I’m always making progress. I’ll either work on something new, or try to add to or fix something old. The wheels came off that wagon a little bit the last part of last year. When I was booked on Conan, it was the only thing I could think of. All I wanted to do was run that set over and over and over again. I couldn’t focus on new jokes. Then just a few weeks after that, my son was born… and obviously that took my focus for awhile. But I’m back to the routine, and it makes a huge difference.
RM: What’s up next for you in the remainder of 2014? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
TD: I’m working on my next album, which I’m really excited about. It’s a little different… and I think I’ll leave it at that. And, hopefully another TV spot before the year is out. Fingers crossed.
Official Website: http://tonydeyo.com/
Tony on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TonyDeyoComedy
Tony on Twitter: https://twitter.com/tonydeyo
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