by Ryan Meehan
Brian Moses is a comedian who has performed at comedy clubs and colleges across the country. He was a finalist in the Orange County’s Funniest Person Competition a few years ago, and he has opened for several amazing comedians including Cheech & Chong, Sarah Silverman, and Bill Burr. Brian’s parents worked for the Navy and the Department of Defense while he was growing up. As a military brat, he moved around a lot as a kid and needed to be funny in order to make new friends. He has since turned that skill into his career. One of his goals is to become friends with more black people so he can get his hair braided for free. Brian lives in Los Angeles, regularly performs at The Comedy Store, and he’s also my guest today in 10 questions.
RM: When did you first come across the medium of stand-up comedy? What was the first performance you saw on television that really blew you away; and how long after seeing that production did you begin writing jokes of your own?
BM: I first came across stand up watching television. HBO’s Def Jam and BET’s Comic View were the first programs I saw that featured standup comedy. The first performance I saw was Chris Rock’s “Bring the Pain” and it blew me away by how honest, serious, timely and brutally funny it was. I didn’t start writing jokes till a decade after that special aired.
RM: Which misconception or misunderstanding that you personally had about the business of comedy did you become aware of very early on when you began getting on stage? Why do you think you had been so wrong about that aspect of the practice beforehand; and how did you go about changing your perspective on that facet of comedy so you could work towards getting better and becoming the comedian you wanted to be?
BM: The biggest misconception I had is that stand up comedy pays when you decide to become a comic but it isn’t a job that pays right away, especially in second or third tier live entertainment markets like San Diego where I started. Not that I should have been paid by any means but in learning that stand up doesn’t pay, right away, I learned doing standup comedy is a lifestyle, a lifelong passion project and not a hobby (Not a hobby if you wanna be great at it) and it’s the opportunity to create with no restrictions. Every human should try it.
RM: For those who might not be familiar with the concept of a Roast Battle, how would you best describe what makes these shows different from the traditional roast format? How did the idea come about in the first place, and who are some of the comics other than yourself and Jeff Ross who have really gone about bringing this idea to life in the form of a weekly show?
BM: A Roast Battle is different from a traditional roast because it’s one on one competitive roasting. It’s not an event centered around one person getting honorably “roasted” where everyone comes to see that person get burned and a few others on the dais get hit with stray shots. Roast Battle is a little more bare boned, gritty and raw. In a traditional roast someone goes up to a podium to roast the subject and the dais. In a Roast Battle two comics are in each other’s faces verbally boxing with each other. Roast Battle came about due to two comics who were arguing at an open mic I ran. Everyone in the room wanted them to fight including myself but I didnt wanna lose the room due to something dumb like fighting, so I suggested they write jokes about each other and we’ll let the crowd of comics decide who wins. It’s a whole community effort the Roast Battle meaning everyone in the comedy community has a hand in helping produce the show and make it happen week by week. Jeff Ross and his roasting experience bring legitimacy to what we do and we’re fortunate for his presence and guidance.
RM: Back in Mid-August, Jim Carrey stopped by The Comedy Store during a night of roast battles and sat next to Jeff on the panel…Had you met Jim before that night; and what was the most surreal part of that evening for you? Did he stop by unannounced, or did somebody alert him to what was going down at midnight on Tuesdays at The Store?
BM: Jim Carrey coming in was incredible. He’s producing a show about comedy clubs in the 70’s so he was researching at the place he started (The Comedy Store) and used to literally call home. He hadn’t been to the Store in about a decade so it was great to see his reaction to what was currently transpiring at the club he honed his craft. I had never met him before that night but he was a real easy going and approachable guy who told us old stories about the Store and all the crazy things he saw coming up…stories about guys like Richard Pryor, Robin Williams and Sam Kinison.
RM: Speaking of The Comedy Store, if one were to remove the history of out of all the great things that have happened inside that establishment over the years and all of the legendary performers who have gotten their start at that venue, what is so special about those rooms that would still make it such a great place to do comedy?
BM: What makes that particular venue great is that you have the freedom to bomb as a performer. More so than most of the big clubs around Los Angeles. They don’t allow filming and it’s not really known as an industry “showcase” club. It’s a place where you can work out your set to make it solid for fans – if you have them – around the world. It has 3 rooms so it’s a big spot, and that’s always fun…not just as a comic to try and perform in all the rooms but as a patron you have options to view all the levels of comedy from beginner to grizzled veteran to maybe a famous comic or two. An artists’ colony…one of the last of its kind as far as standup comedy is concerned.
RM: You and Jeff have now expanded these productions to take place on the other end of the country…Why did you guys select The Stand in New York City to host the September shows on the East Coast; and how do you go about producing a set of shows that you won’t be attending? What makes Luis J. Gomez the optimal choice to host these battles in the city that never sleeps?
BM: This sport Roast Battle is growing so it’s natural for it to hit the mecca of comedy. The Stand is also a natural fit for this show. The guys running that place are comedy junkies and fans so when they approached us about it, we felt they shared the same vision we did and it was a natural fit for the show to be home at that club. They know the scene so they do most of the heavy lifting as far as producing is concerned. Luis is a great host, funny and quick witted…also The Stand is his home so he knows the club very well. He’s also done a couple of Roast battles, so he knows what goes into it and he can also bust balls with some of the heavy hitters in New York. Key phrase to answering this question seems to be “Natural Fit” and Luis is a natural fit for host of Roastmasters at The Stand in New York City.
RM: How can comedy fans in the Midwest or elsewhere across the country go about watching these roast battles go down as they happen whilst also sitting at home in their undergarments eating popcorn?
BM: If anyone wants to see a Roast Battle at home just follow us @roastbattle on the Periscope app. Every Tuesday 11:30PM PT we broadcast live and we go hard as fuck. You can also hear archived battles on our Podcast VERBAL VIOLENCE” on iTunes and the Deathsquad Network.
RM: How has the comedy continued to thrive in an era where the presence of the political correctness police is at an all time high, yet the content of the material shared on stage seems to get more harsh and more brutal with every passing day? Is it something more than just the dichotomy of those two elements existing at the same time, or simply the fact that the desire for comics to take things to the next level in an age where people are losing work due to “controversial” tweets is greater than ever?
BM: I think comics haven’t changed, I think the times have because with technology bringing us closer and closer together there’s a bigger microscope to criticize people on what they say as well as their views. So I wouldn’t say comics are taking it the extreme trying to disrupt the status quo of what’s appropriate to say or do, I think the status quo is changing all the time with people of all views and cultures coming closer and closer together not trying to offend one another because that’s not comfortable. Comedy is subjective so it’s open for interpretation and criticism. People are attracted to angst and the push back on what’s “appropriate” so comedy thrives because people ultimately want to laugh and laughing at “inappropriate” things adds to the appeal. Comedy crowds may have the same mindset as why girls like or are attracted to bad boys.
RM: How do you go about consoling a comedian you’re really good friends with after he or she has had a really bad set where nothing was working for them that particular evening? Likewise, what do you want those same comics to say to you when you’ve found yourself in a similar predicament?
BM: Whenever a friend of mine bombs or has a bad set I tell them to quit standup, stop hurting themselves, and more importantly stop hurting and terrorizing the audience. I hope they would say the same to me…In fact; they have after most of my sets. 🙂
RM: Which portion of the comedic writing process would you consider to be your specialty and why?
BM: My comedic writing process is punchline then building around that. I write on stage a lot and will go onstage with an idea a lot of the time and edit from there. It’s the worst way to do it and I haven’t come anywhere close to mastering it, so I wouldn’t recommend it unless you love hearing awkward silence. Everyone’s process is different.
RM: What’s the best thing that you could wish upon the industry of comedy to ensure that the future of the medium continues to thrive and develop new means by which it can be viewed?
BM: Remain open minded but do better research. Present people and content with substance. The platforms for media are constantly changing so remain open to expanding, but just because some kid has 2 million views on Vine or YouTube doesn’t mean he’s gonna be the equivalent of Lebron James to Comedy. The Millennial generation is incredibly creative so do your due diligence in selecting who you’re saying is gonna progress the medium. I think comedy is in great hands though with some of the creative people and artists coming up.
RM: What’s up next for you in the remainder of 2015 and beyond? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
BM: A lot in the works but nothing in ink, so I can’t report anything super cool just yet. I recently did a Funny or Die’s Oddball tour date October 9th in San Diego. Listen to the podcast VERBAL VIOLENCE, watch us on Periscope @roastbattle, follow us on Twitter @roastbattle, Instagram @verbalboxing. My twitter handle is @racebanning and it’s appalling, you’ve been warned.
Brian on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brian.moses.12
Brian on Twitter: https://twitter.com/racebanning
Roast Battle on Twitter: https://twitter.com/RoastBattle
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