Interview w/ LA Comedian Andrew Polk

Andrew Polk is a LA based comedian originally from Ruston, Louisiana. I got to know Andrew while we were both living in New Orleans. He took me on my first comedy tour and taught me how to promote comedy shows. I got a chance to see him last week when he came through St. Louis on tour. We didn’t get a chance to podcast, but I sent him some questions. Hope you enjoy!

You moved to LA about a year ago, why did you move and how has it changed how you look at comedy?
 I moved because you have to. I was always the “you don’t have to move” guy, but it simply isn’t a reality in the current comedy climate. I was becoming complacent, and stagnant in New Orleans because it’s so easy to do everything there. You open for everyone, you can go up as much as you want, and you can easily be the best. It is a great formula to develop, but only to a point. Being in L.A. has taught me why people always complain about open mics. They’re brutal, and often feel like the opposite of what you should be doing.

What is the biggest difference between NOLA and LA?
 NOLA is tight knit in the way that you have to celebrate your co-workers birthday. L.A. doesn’t give a fuck about you, which is freeing, in a way. I had a show in Hollywood for about 4 months with comedy festival level line-ups and a killer brand, and we couldn’t get a soul in the door. In New Orleans, you could put up a guy with a wacky hairdo and fake credits and still get bodies in the seats. There’s less friendship (I’ve found) in Los Angeles, but everyone is focused, and everyone is working towards something, whether it’s being funny, or being the wacky sidekick on a sitcom. Seeing other people try is always inspiring.

How do you write?
 I still have a real life, and a day job, and do all the regular shit that comics talk and write about before they get rich, famous, and awful. I take notes at work, I jot down stuff on my hand while driving, but I cannot sit down and write a joke. I’m fucking terrible at it. It reads like a guy who practiced telling a joke into a mirror over and over again. I have to be spontaneous, and I have to have an idea and an ending, which can be pretty hard to manage in L.A., where you want to do your best every single time you get up, because it isn’t that often.

You caught onto the trend DIY touring in 2011–2012, what prompted you to book your own tours?
 If you’ve listened to any podcast I’ve ever been on (you haven’t) I’ve spoken about being in a band. I was a terrible musician, but I was great at marketing, talking to people, and designing shit. I was the first person to tour out of New Orleans, and I was really driven to do it because I was proud of what I had done and what I was doing. I was proud of New Orleans, and I saw a chance to take it on the road. Most of the venues on that tour were rock clubs, and DIY spaces, and it felt right. The question I got asked the most was “how did you do it?” and it was as simple as having a video and emailing venues. It’s not like that anymore because it’s pretty commonplace now, but it was really special. The kind of shit an old punk rock guy tells his grandkids and they just think he’s an old, lying fruit.

We started at similar times 6 or 7 years ago and since then have seen a lot of comics quit doing stand up. Why do you keep going?
 I’m jealous of the genuinely funny people that I know that have quit. I fucking hate comics. I really do. Being at a comedy festival now sounds like going to prison. There’s nothing less funny than comedy math, inside baseball, punching up/down, boring gossip, and sucking fraud’s dicks because they can get you somewhere. My twitter feed is sports, funny human beings (like, 3 comics), and pictures of dogs. I don’t have a great answer for why I keep doing this, but I do come back to a quote I remember Maynard James Keenan saying, about his band Tool (this isn’t a joke), it was “I don’t think Tool was the best, but we were the best at it” — I’m not the best at it, but I’m doing what I want to see other people do. If I quit, there’s less hope that comedy will ever become anything other than boring people pretending the color of a politicians tie affects their life in the least.

Your social media game is on point, what’s your secret to staying relevant online?
 I was at an open mic a few weeks ago, and my friend said he wanted to tweet something that I thought was very funny, and another comic said “you can’t do that” only because it could have upset some people. I don’t understand where that blockade came from. Who fucking cares? If someone wants to unfollow me, or mute me, how does that change my life in any way? I wouldn’t want to work for a TV show that doesn’t want the actual, uncensored me, and I would not want to pretend something shitty is good just in the hopes of getting on it. I guess my answer is I get fucked up a lot and don’t mind saying “retard.”

You are in Todd Barry’s book “Thank You For Coming To Hattiesburg”, how did that come about?
 5 years ago I was pegged to open for Todd Barry in New Orleans, which probably had more to do with the poster I designed for the show than my actual skillset. Todd and I became friends, or whatever, because I didn’t bother him and wasn’t an idiot. Whenever he came through the South after that I’d ask him if he needed an opener and a car, and he usually did. Good guy, good book. Check it out!

What is your goal in comedy?
 To get funnier each day.

Five years from now best case scenario, what does your life look like?
 I either don’t have any roommates, or they all died and their rent keeps autodrafting from their accounts. A dog would be nice, too.

Where can people find you on the inter webs?
 I’m on twitter, snapchat, and Instagram @polksalad. Facebook is awful and I have everyone muted. If I don’t like your statuses, it isn’t personal, I just can’t see anything on there, but add me there if you want. My website that I try to keep updated with the open mics I host sometimes is www.andrewpolkcomedy.com