by Ryan Meehan
Cash Levy has appeared numerous times on Comedy Central, Fox, NBC, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (CBS), Comics Unleashed, Comedy.TV and is a regular at the Hollywood Improv. He can be heard daily on Sirius XM Radio, and has been heard on The Bob and Tom Show. With fifteen years of stand-up comedy expertise and national exposure, Cash has entertained to sold out comedy clubs throughout the country. Internationally, Cash has performed for U.S. troops all over the world, from Afghanistan to Singapore. Cash is known as one of the finest improvisers in the country. He uses this skill to interact with the audience, whether in a club or in front of a corporate crowd – spontaneously creating jokes specific to any event. Cash has a rare ability to play off the crowd, and he’s our guest today in 7 questions.
RM: Although you probably get this all the time, I feel I should still ask: Is Cash Levy your real name? Do you feel that name has helped you get a lot of corporate gigs because it sounds so profit-oriented?
CL: That question is highly confidential, there are those that believe my real name is Cassius which I cannot comfortably confirm or deny. I don’t think the corporations care what my name is but if it helps, that would be great. I enjoy performing for them.
RM: How did you get your start doing comedy; and what was the first joke you ever told on stage that really connected with an audience?
CL: I snuck into The Other Cafe at the age of sixteen and it just so happened that Jerry Seinfeld was headlining that night. It was before he became famous but I was amazed with his performance and inspired to someday try comedy. My first joke was as follows, “I just got the weirdest fortune cookie, it said…’A starship ride has been promised to you by the galactic wizard’…I don’t want to shock anyone but fortune cookies are starting to lose their credibility, what are the odds that the galactic wizard would let me ride in his starship…again!”
I wrote this joke right before my first performance and opened with it, and it landed pretty well. Then I never told it again for many years. I decided to do it on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson show for old times’ sake and it did pretty well. In an effort to come full circle I plan to use it as my final joke.
RM: When does a comic hit the point where they are doing too much crowd work at a club gig?
CL: That would depend on each performer. I always stop doing it if I feel I could lose control of a crowd due to rowdiness. I like to try and balance jokes and improv as evenly as I can.
RM: Other than for financial reasons, why is working clean so important to you? Do you think you’d be a good “dirty” comic if that was something you had to specifically tailor your act to?
CL: Part of why we do this job is not just to make people laugh, but to make them feel good. I think more people feel good if it’s not a guilty pleasure. I enjoy working clean because the degree of difficulty is higher and that makes the show more rewarding. Sometimes on a late show I’ll get dirty and It can be fun for those situations, but only as a departure.
RM: You have a list of “Cash Phrases” available over at http://www.cashphrases.org/ that have been pulled the podcast that you do with TJ Miller…What is your favorite word that can be found on that list and why? Was making up compound words something that was a favorite past-time of yours before you began doing stand-up comedy?
CL: I love “Eccliptus Interuptus” which is when a person interrupts sex to go outside and view an eclipse. I also really like the phrases, Toinkered, Spitionkerville, and Yonderland because my friends and I came up with that in college and it’s fun to have other people using the lingo so many years later.
The Cashphrases that are compounds are mostly generated from T.J. who has an amazing comic mind and thinks along those lines, sometimes he’s so funny on the show it’s hard to breathe.
RM: What’s the biggest mistake you think younger comedians make with regards to the writing process? Why do you think that is?
CL: When we started as comedians, most of us tried to emulate a comic we admired and probably failed to write in our own voice. Once we’re writing in our own voice it’s easier to be funny in a way that makes the audience feel like an old friend.
RM: How has your own writing process changed over the years; and what’s the most important thing you’ve learned in the past decade about writing jokes?
CL: For better or for worse, my process never really changed much. I write down funny things I’ve said to friends and try to bring that same content and energy to the stage. The most important thing I’ve learned is to limit my enthusiasm for a joke until I’ve seen it work on stage. The disappointing thing about this job is the amount of material you really believe in that never quite makes the cut.
RM: What’s up next for you in the remainder of 2014 and beyond? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
CL: I’m still trying to finish my book about my lifelong hobby of sneaking into sporting events, concerts, and movies, tentatively titled, “No Ticket Required.” I’m also toying with releasing a tongue in cheek falsetto album. My most important goal was to finish this interview (which I took far too long to get to) so sorry for the delay!!
Official Website: http://www.cashlevy.com/
Cash on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CashLevy
Cash on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/cashlevy
Thanks again for visiting First Order Historians and enjoying more of the internet’s finest in user generated content.