By Ryan Meehan
Dan Naturman first began performing stand-up comedy while a student at Fordham University School of Law. After graduating, he decided to devote himself to stand-up full time. His law school education was not a complete waste of time and money because his membership in the New York State Bar Association gets him discounts on rental cars. His combination of self-deprecation and utter grouchiness has entertained audiences from coast to coast and around the world. Dan has appeared several times on The Late Show with David Letterman, and has also appeared on The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and his very own “Comedy Central Presents” special. He was most recently seen on season nine of “America’s Got Talent”, and he’s our guest today in 7 questions.
RM: At what point did you decide to abandon your career as a lawyer and decide to be a stand-up comedian? Other comics (most famously Greg Giraldo) have also made this career transition as well…Why is it do you think that there appears to be such a connection between the practice of law and the practice of telling jokes in front of complete strangers? Is it simply the power of persuasion, or is it something much more than that?
DN: I never really wanted to be a lawyer, but figured I had to do something. I started performing stand up during law school, and by my third year I started to seriously think that I would like to do it full time. I’m not sure there’s any connection between law and comedy. I think a lot of people, like me, go to law school without any real passion for law, so there’s going to be a lot of dissatisfaction. People switch into all kinds of careers after law school. I know one guy that opened up a hair salon.
RM: You were a part of a very uncomfortable moment in recent television history where you told a joke that referenced Germans on AGT, and supermodel/fashion mogul Heidi Klum seemed to find it offensive. Do you think that people are genuinely offended by things that they encounter unprovoked as they go about their everyday lives, or do you think they leave their residence that morning with the secret hope that something will set them off and give them a chance to complain?
DN: Some people like to get offended. They find it enjoyable. With regard to Heidi, it’s possible she just didn’t understand the joke. Nothing in that joke is in any way, shape, or form anti-German. Sometimes people hear one word and decide they’re offended. With Heidi it’s complicated because English is not her first language and on a previous episode she said she had trouble following what I was saying.
RM: Even though you have appeared on Letterman more than once, do you still get nervous about appearing on late night talk shows like that? What is usually going through your head the moment before you walk out in front of the crowd?
DN: Yes, I still get very nervous any time I’m on television. Right before I go on, I’m usually thinking “I can’t wait for this to be over”.
RM: What’s the biggest misconception casual comedy fans have about the industry, and why do you think that is the case?
DN: People often ask comics if we write our own material. Perhaps they make the analogy to music where many artists do cover songs and songs written for them by others. Any comic that didn’t not write his own jokes, even if he didn’t steal them but bought them, would be looked down upon. The ability to write is at least as important as the performance in terms of how comics perceive each other.
RM: If you had to list your top three comedy clubs at which to perform in New York City, what would that list look like? What is it about the New York comedy scene that makes it so vibrant and full of killer comedians that always seem to have new material ready to go?
DN: I don’t perform at all the clubs but I like The Comedy Cellar, The Comic Strip and Stand up New York. The best comics want to be in New York so all that competition makes as all try to bring our A game as much as possible.
RM: When younger comedians ask you for advice, what’s the one thing you tell them that they can take away from your conversation and put to good use in the world of comedy?
DN: I never have good advice to give. Just write material that you like telling and that the audience likes hearing. They will happily give you their opinion by laughing or not laughing. My opinion is far less important.
RM: What’s up next for you in the remainder of 2014 and beyond? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
DN: I’ve performed in French in Paris several times over the years. It’s a language I’ve been studying as a hobby since 2002. I’m thinking of devoting more time to that. I don’t think there’s any bigger challenge for a stand up than to perform in a second language. Several comics have done it. Most notably Eddie Izzard who has also performed in French. Also, Adriàn Minkowicz, an Argentinian comic, performs in both Spanish and English.
Official Website: http://www.dannaturman.com/
Dan on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DanNaturmanOfficial
Dan on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DanNaturman
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