By Ryan Meehan
Whitmer Thomas is from Gulf Shores, Alabama. He grew up skateboarding, playing music, and jumping off of high things into water. He started doing standup a few years ago and has since become a fixture in the comedy scene in Los Angeles. Whitmer produces a popular weekly standup show as part of the comedy collective called Power Violence. He has been on TV and some movies, but mostly on the internet. Go check him out on the internet, and as my guest today in 7 questions.
RM: On a scale of one to ten, how skilled would you say you are when it comes to skateboarding? On that same scale, how skilled would you say you are with regards to doing stand-up? What important life lessons have you learned from being involved with each one?
WT: I’m a 4 at skating. If a person who knows nothing about skating was to see me skate, there’s a chance they’d think I am good at it, but compared to the real pros and local kids at skate parks, I’ve got nothing. I’m probably a little better at standup. Like a 5 or 6. My crutch with standup is stupid faces and funny voices to get my jokes across. As soon as I don’t have to rely on those things, I think I can move up the ranking. I also really love doing voices and faces and I’m fine with it if that ends up being my thing forever. I guess skating and skate culture is a huge part of what made me the way I am. Skaters are silly dudes who fuck around constantly. Hanging out with older skater guys when i was a kid is what made me try to be funny. I love it when there’s a guy in the audience who I can tell skates, because I know he will relate some of the things I do in a way that the rest of the audience might not.
RM: How did you come to be involved with “May the Best Man Win”? What can you tell us about the storyline of that movie, and how would you best describe your character in that film?
WT: I auditioned for it about two years ago and got the part. The movie is about two pals who love messing with people and putting it online, then they meet a girl who is better at messing with people than they are. The pals decide that in order to win the girls love, they will have to mess with each other in a competitive way using some rules and punishments. Whoever loses, loses the girl. The girl, is never on board with the competition the whole time, because she not an object or an idiot, which I think is a good choice. My character is just a sweet confident nobody who is for some reason 25 and still eating at mall food courts.
RM: What do we need to know about “Power Violence”? Who are some of the other comedians that are involved with that project, and how long have you all been working together? How did you come up with the name; and what music were you listening to when you did?
WT: PowerViolence is my heart and soul. I started PV about 4 years ago with my best friends and soul mates Clay Tatum, Rodney Berry, and Budd Diaz. Joe Parmer is our behind the scenes coproduce and Evan Mays designs pretty much all of our artwork and logos and posters. Also, our friend Jeramy Ritchie, runs our tech and is also in a lot of our videos skating and doing dumb stunts. Clay and I have been calling ourselves PowerViolence in one way or another since we were 17. We grew up listening to PowerViolence bands like Spazz and Charles Bronson and thought it’d be funny to call a comedy collective a heavy name like PowerViolence. The fans of the music genre hate us.
RM: What’s the BUDDYBOT-805 and what was the purpose of its design? Is that supposed to be a Dodgers hat, or am I just reading too much into the placement of the duct tape?
WT: Haha. We made this cardboard robot suit to look like Buddy for our weekly PowerViolence show. The idea is that, if you put the suit on, you will then be able to experience what it’s like to be in Buddy’s body. After having to deal with his permanent exhaustion and limited flexibility, you will have the utmost respect and sympathy for Buddy which will make you enjoy his comedy even more. Also, when Budd is dead one day, people can wear the suit and entertain comedy fans as if Buddy was still alive. PV’s mission is to preserve Buddy for as long as possible because he’s very funny. Yes, that is supposed to be a Dodgers hat! Thanks for noticing!
RM: You were one of the “New Faces of Comedy” at this year’s Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal…What was that whole experience like for you; and how did you think that your sets went? Which were you more concerned with: Getting exposure; or networking with other comedians that you didn’t already know?
WT: New Faces was amazing. All of the sets went great. Everybody who was there as a new face had an amazing set. I was honored to get to go out there with all of those comics. It was a real special group. I just wanted to have good sets and hang with friends in a different country. It was a magical experience. I couldn’t dream up a better time. The exposure was cool. I got to open for TJ Miller and be a guest on the You Made it Weird w/ Pete Holmes in the same day. That was a great day.
RM: You had the chance to be on Todd Glass’ podcast this past November…What were some of the things you had the chance to talk about on that show? When did you first meet Todd and what have you learned from watching a seasoned veteran like that do stand-up?
WT: The Todd Glass Show is the most fun. Just constant goofs and bits and riffs. I really can’t remember exactly what we talked about because the show moves a mile a minute. Todd has been one of my favorite comedians for a long time. He’s a perfect reminder how much fun you should be having as a comedian. Not many comics have as much fun on stage as he does. If I approach the stage and think, “I’m gonna kill”, 90% of the time I will bomb, but if I think “I’m gonna try to have the most fun ever tonight”, it will 90% of the time go really well. I learned that from watching Todd. I met him about two years ago, and life has been 70 times better because of it.
RM: What is your favorite aspect of the writing process, and is there any part of it that you absolutely loathe? Do you think that ten years from now you will have the same answer to this question?
WT: Most of my writing starts with me doing a weird voice or character in my car or meeting someone who I like to imitate. Then I will tell my friends or girlfriend about it and do the voice and if they think it’s funny, I’ll write it out and try it on stage. I love every bit of it. I’m still pretty new when it comes to standup, I’ve only being doing it for 3 and a half years, so I don’t really ever feel like I know what I’m talking about when it comes to this stuff. I just know that if I am excited to do it on stage, and people still aren’t laughing at it, then it’s worth rewriting and restructuring until it is something that every audience can get behind.
RM: What’s up next for you in the remainder of 2014 and beyond? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
WT: Clay and I have been working on a cartoon for a year or so at Fox’s ADHD called Stone Quackers with an amazing man, who we’ve been fans of for a long time, named Ben Jones. The show is sort of based off of me and Clay’s teen years growing up in Gulf Shores, Alabama. It’s the best thing I’ve ever worked on. I don’t know when it comes out, but hopefully people will get to see it soon. It’s a great blend of emotional friendship tales and ridiculous stupidity, and the world that Ben has created is like nothing I’ve seen in a cartoon before. Other than that, we are pitching a movie and a TV show around. I hope all of this stuff gets made, because it will cool, but also because I want to have enough money to remove the carpet in my room and replace it with a nice hardwood. I’m thinking Brazilian Cherry.
Whitmer on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nosegrabs
Whitmer on Twitter: https://twitter.com/WhitmerThomas
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