Writing Jokes with Brandon Collins (Comedy Outliers)

It goes against all of the norms of what one would expect from a show produced by two black comedians.

[@americancollins on Twitter]
Guy in Astoria. Comedy stuff. Writer. Producer. Hater of Alaska.#comedyoutliers #brandonknowsnothing#mediumpopcorn

When did you realize you could be a comedian?

The first time I heard Chris Rock’s “Bring the Pain” I was in awe by how hard human beings could laugh. The power that Chris had over his audience was intoxicating and I wanted that power. As I got older, I learned to appreciate Chris’ joke writing and how he would use his voice to emphasize certain points. I became a student of comedy and watched Sinbad, Bill Maher and Eddie Murphy constantly to understand how one develops their own point of view in comedy.

When I had the opportunity to join a comedy group at my high school in Ann Arbor, Michigan I immediately jumped on it and was thrown head first into the art of stand-up comedy. During my first show performing stand-up, once I got that first laugh in front of a packed audience of my peers, I knew I was hooked.

How did Comedy Outliers originate? What do you enjoy about producing & hosting the show?

“Comedy Outliers” was formed by a desire to have the best independent stand-up comedy show in the city. My co-producer Mike Brown and I wanted to have a show that would highlight mainstream, alternative and urban comedy with a diverse audience. I love producing Outliers because it goes against all of the norms of what one would expect from a show produced by two black comedians. Sometimes people just assume by looking at photos of Mike and I that our show is an “urban” show however our audience is diverse in both age and race, which makes booking the show so much fun because we can have comedians of all different styles and they all can kill in their own way. Our audience that comes every month is like family that keeps growing because of word of mouth. Hosting and producing this show will forever be one of my great success stories in my comedy career.

A bi-weekly podcast focused on reviewing various movies and other random observations

What was the inspiration behind Medium Popcorn (Ni**as Spoiling Movies)?

I’ve always been infatuated with movies. A lot of the “Comedy Outliers” posters I put together are inspired by some of my favorite films. I was already looking to start another podcast and thought a movie-centric show would be a great fit for me. My friend Justin Brown and I often found ourselves in strange, lengthy debates about films and pop culture so he was just a natural choice for a co-host.

It’s a fun show that allows us to openly chat about films and discuss which hot white actresses we like the most.

What do you like and/or dislike about the comedy scene in New York?

I love how that there are always opportunities to get onstage if you want to. Whether it’s an open mic, bar show or club spot. Some comedians do up to 7–9 spots a night, which is insane but only possible in a place like New York.

My only gripe is for show producers that book shows that are lacking in diversity both in race and style.

It’s annoying to have an unlimited pool of comedic talent to help you put on a great show but some producers just book a show where every comic looks the same and talk about the same BS.

You can find Brandon in Astoria or hosting his show at Lilly O’Brien’s in Manhattan. Follow him on Twitter at @americancollins

For more on humor, follow @jokewriting on Twitter.

Interview by Zuri Irvin (@withzuri)