Diary of a Mad White Comic
A talk with [ Jeff ] Bodart

When I began my adventure in comedy, I had the advantage of knowing a working comic. Not only was Jeff a comic who I looked up to, but he was extremely friendly and willing to answer the numerous questions I had about the industry. When I decided to start interviewing comics for my blog, I knew Jeff would be a person I wanted to speak with. He has helped me so much, I feel as if it is almost unfair for other young comics not to have a chance to speak with him. It is for this reason I chose to have Jeff as my first guest.

Jeff is a working comic from Indiana, and the host of the wildly popular Sticky Candy podcast. Jeff has been doing comedy for nearly 11 years and started his career in Indianapolis at Crackers Comedy Club. Jeff has worked shows all over the United States with some of the best comics around. For more information on Jeff you can visit his website [http://jeffbodart.com/]. Jeff is a comic that I greatly admire, his act is one that anybody can relate to, I was honored to interview him for this blog, and happy that I can share the experience with you.

How long have you  been doing standup?

The first time I stepped foot on stage was Feb. 19, 2001. Almost 11 years.


When and why did you decide to stand on stage in front of complete strangers and attempt to make them laugh?

I was always a goofy kid and enjoyed making people laugh.  I used to try to remember Johnny Carson’s jokes and do them in art class.  Then as I got closer to Jr. High, I started watching VH1 Stand up spotlight, Comic Strip Live, A&E’s comedy on the Road, Star Search and I think there was something on Friday nights on NBC late night. I loved watching Carson especially the nights he had comics. So I was watching anything and everything with stand up comedy.  I was completely (and still am) drawn to comedy.  But I didn’t consciously put it together that I could do comedy until I got into college.  I found a book at the public library called, Careers in Comedy and then I saw my first live comedy show when I was in college and it was a great experience.  After that, I wanted to see if I could actually write a joke, so I started writing.  I wrote for about a year, just writing. Then finally in 2001, after I had been about of college for a couple of years, and after a friend of mine [got] tired of hearing me talk about doing comedy, I called around to find an open mic night at a comedy club. I found one at Crackers Comedy Club.  After that first time on stage, I was hooked. There was no turning back, I absolutely knew that my life was changed forever.

Do your past life experiences feed into your passion for stand-up?

Yeah, certainly.  Every good and bad experience feeds comedy.  Absolutely everything.  You write what you know.  You mine your brain for comedy gold. Every feeling of inadequacy, insecurity, guilty feeling, happy thought, etc.. everything feeds comedy.

Did you understand the amount of time having success would take?

Success can be measured in many ways.  Starting out, you have your list of goals. Usually it says, “I want to have 15 solid minutes” and “I’d like to start getting paid gigs at this point” then you just add to the list after you check one off.  So if you are able to check something off your list every 6 months, it doesn’t feel like it’s taking very long at all. You will always feel like you’re moving forward if you keep checking off those goals.  As far as what my goals are now, I do understand but the thing is, you just never know.  You never know if that guy you worked a one-nighter with 3 months ago might know somebody important and your name might come up, which sets off of another chain of events that eventually enables you to reach another goal.  I guess you know but then again, you don’t. Just be ready when the big ones come your way.


How long after you began stand-up did you get paid work?

I actually got my first paid gig 6 months or so after I started doing comedy.  I think I was pretty lucky.  Another comic who booked shows saw me at an open mic and asked someone else about me.  He booked me at a bar in southern Indiana.  He wanted me to do like 10 or 15 minutes and I think I probably had 8 minutes of actual material.  But I didn’t want to turn it down.  It was exciting.

How long now have you been a full time comic?

I really started to get a lot of work in 2004 but I wasn’t a full time comic until about 3 or so years ago.  

What factors influenced your decision to make the jump to full time?

That’s tough to explain.  After a long moment of reflection I decided that no one was going to do this for me. I was going to have to work harder than I ever have if I wanted to make this happen for myself.  I just decided that I would have to commit myself to it or it wouldn’t happen.

Why standup? What brings you back week after week and motivates you to put in the time (writing, performing, driving)?

It’s my career.  That’s my motivation.  I’m so thankful to not have to get up everyday at 6:00 am to go to work.  If I ever get lazy, I remind myself of that.  I remind myself to email and call all the bookers and club owners every month.  If my schedule gets a little too slim, I dig in and call more bookers or I look into putting on shows.  I research comedy festivals.  I work on my website and networking outlets.  The motivation comes from wanting and needing a full calendar.  If you fill up the calendar, work on the next year.

Being new to comedy, I’m curious about the Indy Comedy Scene, how is it now, and is this different from when you started?

The Indy comedy scene has always had a couple of cliques but I think it’s always been pretty supportive.  I actually think it’s a little more supportive now.  Almost all the comics I came up through the ranks with when I started, I’m still friends with today.  And I’ve only made more friends over the years.

How can someone new to comedy help build the scene?

I think you can only help build the scene if you’re nice to everyone.  Also, starting an open mic somewhere and creating more opportunities for stage time for your fellow comics grows the scene.


What advice would you share with someone just entering comedy?

If anyone reading this decides to enter into comedy, I would tell them to find as much stage time as possible.  Just get on stage.  Write.  Write.  Write.  Perform. Perform.  Perform.  Don’t worry about getting the big deal after your first time on stage.  Just get on stage.

What should new and/or young comics not do?

Don’t copy another style just because that’s what you love. Be your own person. Find what best fits you. And absolutely NEVER steal material. Don’t steal material and don’t be a dick to everyone.

Who are your favorite comics right now?

Brian Regan, Kyle Kinane, Tommy Johnagin, Dan Cummins, Greg Behrendt, Chad Daniels, Ryan Dalton, Ryan Hamilton, Mike Merryfield, Matt Holt, Jeff Oskay & Brent Terhune

What was the best moment you had onstage, or throughout your career?

Honestly, I’ve had some great times. I guess one of the top moments of my career was this year. Greg Behrendt specifically asking clubs to book me to open for him.

What is the worst?

One time years ago at Crackers comedy club in broadripple, I was mcing a show and I was having a pretty good set and I started hearing someone mocking me from the crowd.  I let it go a couple of times but after the third time, I started to get a little agitated and I lashed out at the voice in the back of the room.  After I got off stage I was told that it was the mentally challenged son of an older couple in the crowd… and he was sincerely laughing, not mocking. Yeah.. I’m a dick.

You recently went to LA, how was that experience and what took you out there?  

I actually wanted to go to L.A. to see Greg Behrendt and Dave Anthony perform in a show called, Starfish Circus II.  It wasn’t definite that I was going but then I was asked by a friend of mine if I wanted to perform in a show in L.A. that same week. So I decided that I should go and see what it’s like for a week.  It was a good experience.  I saw as much as I could of L.A. and the comedy scene. I know I’ll have to move out there eventually so it was good to just throw myself into it and see what happens.

For those of you interested in seeing Jeff on stage, check him out on November 20th at the Sinking Ship in Indianapolis.

[corey.]

Take your [stage] Time.

Comedy is an art and takes time to develop. If you are not interested in the long road ahead then why start at all? I was lucky when I started to have resources available to me, resources that allowed me to understand this aspect. It was through this understanding that I was able to grow and develop as a young comic. Again I feel the need to stress that I am nowhere near a comedian, but lately I have felt more comfortable with the art and believe I am starting to get an understanding of how things work. It is because I am taking my time.

Listen to podcasts, read blogs, and watch other comics. This is extremely important for someone new to the scene. There are tons of blogs and podcasts that establish the idea that comedy takes time. If you do not believe me think about your favorite comic, then google him/her. See if you can find an article or video of him/her talking about the business and I guarantee he/she will say it is important to take your time while working in this industry. Do not get on stage one time and expect to start making money. I thought I was funny as hell the first time I got on stage. Now that I have had more experience, I look back to the video of my first time and feel shameful. The only way to truly develop material and find your voice is to get on stage. 

When I first started I knew that I needed to get on stage as much as possible. I found the local club only did open mic nights twice a month. I figured all clubs were similar, and being on stage once a month was enough to help me grow. This is a total misconception. Finding open mic nights are easy, and being on stage multiple times a week is not farfetched. I wasted my first three months in comedy with the belief that I was actually growing. In all honestly I was not. It was not until I ventured out, emailed other clubs, and found other rooms to get time in that I began to grow. Recently I have been doing comedy three times a week, traveling all over the state to get on stage, and I can tell it is helping. Not only is it allowing me to develop time and work through my material, but it is allowing me to experience different types of audiences. Not all of which believe my sarcastic views on life are funny. This will also allow you to understand (on a small scale) what comedy on the road feels like. You will be tired, broke, and at gas stations constantly. But doing this while you’re young allows you to get out if your heart is not in it. Remember that you’re not getting paid so all expenses are coming out of your own pocket, if you can not handle it then you are probably in it for the wrong reasons. 

Remember to take your stage time. This is the only chance you are going to be able to work your material in front of an unbiased audience, believe me moms and girlfriends will laugh at your worst jokes. While you are on stage record yourself with both audio and video. You will think you killed it until you go back and listen to the audio or watch the tape. Make sure to be critical of your work and always understand you can be better. Look or listen for words or ticks you are overusing and strive to fix those. When I first started I played with the mic cord constantly. Had it not been so noticeable and distracting to myself when reviewing the set I may still be doing it. This is only going to allow you the opportunity to grow and become a better comic. 

Don’t be afraid to bomb. It happens and it happens frequently. Remember that it is a blessing in disguise. Even though it is the worst 6 to 8 minutes you can imagine it helps you grow. It allows you to move through your material while being distracted (a room full of hatred is noticeable). This is only going to make you a stronger person and comic, while giving yourself a better understanding of where the material is. I was lucky enough to bomb my second time on stage. By lucky I mean looking back in hindsight and understanding it was a learning experience. After my first time on stage I was on top of the world (in my circle of friends and family), bombing the next time allowed me to come back down to earth. It helped me understand that I was not THE ONE. It also helped me developed two crucial ideas of this business; the ability to take criticism and knowing that there is room to grow. By embracing the two you will always understand you are not the comic you want or need to be, in order to have success. 

Go out of your way to make connections. As I stated before it is possible to make it to multiple open mic nights per week, but it is going to take making the right moves. Do not be afraid to email a club, or the person who runs a room and ask for time. This is why they are doing open mics. For the most part they want to get people on stage because it helps their business. With that being said, do not go in and be an ass. Respect the room and respect the other comics. You are not going to be the funniest person of the night, and thinking you are is noticeable to the other comics and makes you look like a douche. If you want to continue performing at that venue you will want to respect it. I always make the effort to thank the emcee and booker. They have helped you and deserve to know you appreciate it. Thank the other comics as well. These are your peers, and can potentially become friends. Networking is key and it is going to pay off. 

Those of us starting out in Indiana are blessed because of the work of Janette Perez. She took her time to make a detailed calendar of open mics in the Indy area. This is a GREAT resource for all comics, and one that I have greatly benefited from. It allowed me to go from performing once a month to multiple times per week. If you see her at a show take the time to thank her for this. She put in a lot of time creating the calendar and giving the details about each room. For this, she deserves to be recognized.

Here is the link:  http://iamjanetteperez.blogspot.com/p/indy-comedy-calendar.html

[corey.]

I Am [not] Comic

I need to preface this blog and all future posts by stating I AM NOT A COMEDIAN. I simply do comedy. A comedian has spent countless hours working on material and developing it on stage, always knowing that the joke can be pushed and developed further. They have sacrificed time, money, and a majority of their life working on their set, constantly hoping for that next booking. I myself have been in this game for seven months, bouncing from one open mic to the next, so to say I am a comedian is unfair to others of this craft. Although at this point in life I cannot call myself a comedian, I know that in the future I will be. Through a strong belief in my art and the confidence I strive to uphold, I know that in the future I will have put in the hours needed to be considered a comedian. Because when you think about it, all the comics I look up to started where I am.

I grew up with great parents who constantly pushed me to better myself. This betterment however came in athletics. I knew from a young age that sports were not my thing, but through the competitiveness that was and still is my family, it was impossible not to belong to a team. At the start of high school, I knew that acting and theater were things I wanted to pursue, however I joined the football team instead. This was a terrible time for me; not only was I stuck doing something I sucked at and hated, I became a huge ass hole. In order to stand at the “cool” end of the school, you had to conform and change your beliefs to whatever the head-honcho said was acceptable. These beliefs followed me to college and for the most part consumed my life. It was not until senior year that I realized following the path I was on made me hate myself. It was through saying, “fuck this lifestyle,” that I was able to truly belong to something. That something was comedy, I grabbed ahold of the laughter and continue to ride that euphoria today, and I can honestly say its something I love. 

Although this first post is long, it is all stuff that needed to be said. I wanted those of you who make it this far to realize where I am right now in pursuing my dream, and what it was that brought me to this stage in my life. Through this blog I hope to inspire people to pursue their dreams, I have no idea where I would be right now had I not pursued mine; probably a library reading case notes and hating every waking moment of my life. Help those who are starting comedy the best I can, I am only seven months ahead of you, but any advice I have I will give. Finally I want to share my dream with all of you, and let those of you who are unable to follow yours, enjoy mine with me. I hope you find this informative, fun, and helpful.

corey.