by Ryan Meehan
When Flip Schultz was eight years old, he won a summer camp talent show by performing stand-up comedy. There was never a doubt in his mind that comedy would be his future. For a while he performed wherever he could find an audience, whether at a family get together, bar-mitzvahs, seniors center; he didn’t care. He just wanted to make people laugh. Finally, at 18, he braved a real comedy stage and won the open mic contest. For the next few years Flip performed at many comedy clubs (and bars) honing his craft, paying his dues and finding his comedic voice. After leaving South Florida as a local favorite, Flip now lives in Los Angeles and tours clubs & colleges all over the country, and has quickly become a sought after comic in Scandinavia. He’s our guest today in 7 Questions.
RM: What was the biggest culture shock that you experienced when you first got to LA after living in South Florida for so long? Do you feel like you’ll ever really get used to Los Angeles given the fact that it’s getting more densely populated with every passing day?
FS: It wasn’t too much of a culture shock given that Ft. Lauderdale/Miami are big, metropolitan areas. It was like moving to west coast Miami…except there’s no humidity…thankfully. The population boom, however, is a big pain in the ass. Traffic is horrendous in LA. On most days I feel like a piece of cheese slowly moving through the bowels of the Los Angeles highway system…too graphic?
RM: When you first started out doing comedy, who were some of the other comics that you became friends with and hung out with at most of your gigs? How many of those individuals are still doing comedy today?
FS: There were a fair amount of local Florida comics that I started out with, but the ones that are still around would be: Kyle Grooms, Buddy Bolton, Daniel Tosh, Danny Bevins, Bret Ernst, Greg Hahn, Tom Ryan, Lisa Corrao, Jimmy Shubert (although Jimmy was already a seasoned comic by the time I got to know him). It’s nice that the friendships you make in comedy can last as long as they have. It’s the kind of camaraderie that guys in the military feel. We’re all in the trenches together, fighting with unruly crowds, self-doubt and fear, but also committed to what we want to do with our lives. Though in comedy, you don’t usually get shot at…usually.
RM: Who’s “Donny Gold” and how did you get involved with Bazooka? Do you feel as if you can get into a character pretty quick; even if it’s been created by someone else? Why do you think that’s so easy for you to do?
FS: LOL, man your ‘seven questions’ have a lot of sub-questions, don’t they? 🙂 Donny Gold is a cheesy, game show host-type who is going to be the face of a new Bazooka Gum contest. It was a lot of fun to shoot those spots, although it was a lot of memorizing of lines and rules that I had to say with an intense amount of energy and speed. I was really lucky in that I didn’t have to audition for that part; I was offered it by the producer whom I had worked with previously for a different Bazooka project. As for the character, they gave me a basic sense of what they wanted and then allowed me to just create the guy. When it comes to projects like these, I don’t like to put too much thought into the character, rather I get on set, see what they have in terms of costume, make up and set design and then just let the moments happen. I love doing those kinds of shoots where the ‘powers that be’ allow a performer to improvise on different lines and moments; it creates a much more creative vibe and so many cool things happen from that. I don’t know why it’s easier for some performers to improvise better than others, it’s just one of those things that you either prefer or don’t. I just like to live in the moment.
RM: Speaking of character work, who’s better in bed: Flip Schultz or Skippy Greene?
FS: Skippy Greene for sure. As he would say, “I’m hung like an off ramp…and not just because there’s a guy selling oranges on it!”
RM: For some reason I don’t remember seeing you in Jamie Kennedy’s “Heckler”…What was your role in that film and how long were you shown on camera?
FS: I was seen in a brief (but from what I’ve been told, memorable) moment in the documentary. It shows me on stage in Sweden where I was heckled by a woman, who got a great reaction from the crowd, but then I hit her back really hard. It was a fun moment where you see how fast a comedian needs to be to handle certain situations. Here’s a link to it.
RM: With regards to audience interaction, how much crowd work do you usually do on a given night? Do you ever feel like some nights you want to riff more often than you usually do?
FS: I like to always have some audience interaction in my show; I usually dedicate anywhere from 5-15 minutes collectively to that. (depending on how long my set is) I love that feeling of not knowing what they are going to say or what I will say. Honestly, if I’m on a roll with someone, I can just do that for my whole time. That’s what’s great about where I am in my career and writing; I have the material that I know will work, so if my crowd work suddenly stops being entertaining, I can just fall back on the material and bring the audience back.
RM: How has your writing process changed over the past fifteen years? Do you think it’s better for a comic to have days where they are all over it and other days not so much; or to really remain consistent over long periods of time? Do you believe that writers’ block exists and if so; what do you do to break yourself out of a rut?
FS: My writing has changed as I have changed. My early material was very silly; very visual and the actual writing was “easy”, meaning the concepts weren’t very original or challenging. I think most comics, when they start out, are only going for the laugh and not really looking at themselves for material. Which is fine. At that point all you really think is, “I need to make these people laugh”. But as I grew as a comic and saw what other comedians were talking about, I realized that I needed to open up more about my real life, as opposed to doing a bit about how Pakistani men have sex (yes, that was a real joke I used to do). So when, let’s say, I had a really painful break up, I took that pain and started writing some really clever, original, personal jokes. It was therapeutic and real.
As far as any kind of writers block, hell yeah that’s real. It’s tough to break out of that, but I stopped trying to force myself to write. Some comics are good at that; just dedicating time during the day to write, me, I just let it come to me organically. Usually it happens at night when I’m falling asleep. I mentally put myself on stage and just talk, or I think about an idea that I have and just riff. Sometimes nothing happens and I just fall asleep, other times I’ll think of something funny, sit up and talk the joke into my phone and record it. I’ll also usually ask my wife, “Hey, is this funny?” She knows my style well enough to know if it will work.
RM: Could you give us an example of an American city you’ve been to where you didn’t necessarily expect your comedy to go over so well; and ended up having a great night? What happened; and why do you think people there exceeded your expectations of participating in a great comedy show?
FS: I remember years ago I was doing a show at a club in Spokane, WA. It was in a hotel bar/lounge; not the most ideal place to have a comedy room. And this night was a doozy. The audience had been drinking a lot and they were kind of rowdy and rambunctious. So I’m sweating bullets thinking that this was going to be an awful show. And at first it was going that way, but then I got control of the room and had an amazing show. I remember going back to my room and writing in my blog (which isn’t around anymore) about how I really felt like a comedian now. How I took a room that was out of control and got them to focus and laugh as a group. It’s an amazing feeling. I think I underestimated the audience simply because of a shitty first impression. It was a lesson that I always try to remember; never judge an audience before you get up there.
RM: What’s up next for you in the remainder of 2014? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
FS: Well I just appeared on two television shows last month. A Nick At Nite sitcom called “INSTANT MOM” and the ABC series “MISTRESSES”. And right now the Bazooka commercials are running nationally. Other than that I’ll be hitting the road over the next few months playing Tahoe, a few Florida clubs and a couple of weeks on the Norwegian Getaway. But who knows what may come up in the meantime; that’s what’s wonderful about doing what we do, you never know what opportunity is waiting. Tomorrow I could be a regular on a new sitcom…or I could just be watching more porn.
Official Website: http://www.flipschultz.com/
Flip on Facebook: www.facebook.com/flipschultzfanpage
Flip on Twitter: www.twitter.com/flipschultz
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