Updated: Jan 30, 2021
What comedy most inspires you?
I love it when comedians take their personal pain and struggle and find the humour in it then use that to build bridges. Hearing comics like Patton Oswalt and, especially Maria Bamford openly discussing their mental health issues was a huge eye opener for me. As a gay man, as well, it was a huge deal, just in the last 20 years or so, to see other gay men being open about themselves and their lives in comedy. Its pretty magical how laughter can really bring you into the world when you feel isolated and alone.
Which comedian inspires you?
So many...I would probably say Maria Bamford because of the endless creativity she brings...she has so many tools to make you laugh, from her voice and her vulnerability but she's also just a really good joke writer too. She can do no wrong in my mind.
Which comedian scares the shit out of you because you know you'll never be that good?
Again, so very many....I mean, I love really good joke writers...not necessarily one-liners but people who really know how to structure a bit for maximum effect...so there's like Anthony Jeselnik, Todd Barry and Sam Morril but I think I will go with Sarah Silverman because of her versatility. She can work really blue or play it very clean but she just always goes for the jugular and that's impressive.
Why and how did you get into comedy?
When I was a young boy, my grandparents, who were farmers living here in rural New Brunswick, Canada, had an album by Bill Cosby. Granted, this was long before we knew what sort of man he was. However, I adored that album and I grew up always knowing that there were people out there whose job it was to get on stage and make people laugh. I was in awe of that. Comedy struck me as something noble to do and that never left me. I always tried to be funny, especially when things weren't going great for me throughout my life. I just never had the confidence to try stand up. That changed when I was living in Whistler, British Columbia and going through a dark time, feeling lonely and hating my job and life. In that moment, out of sheer desperation and not knowing how much longer I wanted to be around, I decided to give it a try. Luckily, the national comedy chain here in Canada, Yuk Yuks, had a great amateur night program at its Vancouver club and all it took was an email and I was off.
What drives you to do what you do?
Pure love of the game. I've never encountered any other thrill sport or substance that makes me feel as good as I do when a joke that I wrote and told hits. That's not all though...the Aspergers side of me loves the patterns and flow of a well structured joke, which is why I tend to spend all day going over my set in my head, trying to find more efficient ways of wording certain parts and that's very satisfying as well. It all feels like something I was made to do....I fit there, if that makes any sense. It's an addictive feeling.
Describe your perfect Tuesday.
Well, sleep in until noon for starts because that is an important start to any perfect day. Leftover pizza for lunfast (I think that's more appropriate than brunch when it happens after noon). A long leisurely walk in the local park with my shih tzu, Maggie. Much of the afternoon spent napping and managing my twitter jokes that are going viral, then off to a packed house at a show not far from my bed, where I finish the day with more pizza and many hugs from Maggie.
Describe your worst experience on a coach.
That's a challenging question because there are so many terrible people riding them....sometimes that includes me. So I will say it was when I was living in Vancouver and returning home with several heavy bags of groceries. There must have been a delay in the transit system, of which I wasn't aware of but the coach was more crowded than usual that day and the driver continued to pack more people in until I was pinned in the centre of a very sweaty, unhappy group of people...completely immobilized. This triggered a massive panic attack and I needed to get off. At the next stop, I clawed and yelled my way through the people, leaving most of my groceries behind and just barely made it to the sidewalk before falling to my knees and throwing up. A very kind lady passed seconds later and asked if I was OK. As a proper Canadian, all I could think of to say was "I'm very hungover, thanks"
Best sofa you've ever slept on?
Usually sleeping on a sofa means I've been drinking so they tend to feel the same....but I do like the one my mother has now - deep, long and wide. Its soft and you don't so much sit on it as sink into it. Thoroughly delightful, sofa-wise.
Best piece of advice a comedian ever gave you?
So much good advice over the years, this will be difficult to narrow down because I've been blessed to work with a lot of really knowledgeable comics. Eddie Brill, a legendary comic who used to book the comedians for David Letterman held comedy seminars and his advice was phenomenal...especially regarding a lot of the simple things like how to handle a mic, what to do with the mic stand...basically how to be a professional comedian. I still think about those sessions. Another comedian who has greatly influenced me has been James Mullinger, a Brit and former TV presenter from London. He moved here a couple of years ago and I've performed with him many times and I always get something new from watching him. He brings that presenter confidence and largesse to the stage. I think a lot of younger comedians get stuck in the idea of simply standing in one spot and delivering their jokes in their monotone speaking voice. James has taught me to perform with my body and the stage and the full range of my voice. It really opened things up for me, as I can be quite timid when not making the effort. The best, though, I would say came from a comic who was running an amateur night show at a club in Vancouver. I went a little long on my 5 minute set and the comic who had given me the spot (who shall remain nameless because he still doesn't like me very much) hauled me into the back hallway and began berating me for going long, being visibly nervous....basically for everything. He did advise me to rewrite everything, keep it simple, just stick to easy set-up/punchline structures for the time being, thus cutting down the length of my jokes and increasing the number of jokes I can get in during a short set like that. It was harshly delivered advice but I took it and it has made the biggest difference....you're given such a short time to make a lasting impression on an audience, why spend most of it on words that don't have anything to do with the joke. Trim the fat. Make it lean.
Worst piece of advice a critic ever gave you?
A newbie comic came up to me after an open mic show, put his arm around me and told me I was "just ok" and that I needed to do more "joke jokes".. He said I was too real and that I should not do any more material about being gay because, in his logic "you don't hear me talking about my dick up there". ** For clarification, I don't talk about my penis either....that's a very private matter and, frankly, too long to discuss.
Tell us a joke.
Ok, I'll give you one that I have retired from my set: A couple of years ago, My mother gave me one of those 23 & Me DNA testing kits.....for my birthday, which is as close one can get to saying "I hope you're not mine" as you can comfortably get. But I tried it and never get a result. I sent the sample in, waited and heard nothing. So I called the customer support and they told me they told me they didn't have my sample on record and advised me to try again. I sent in another sample and got the same problem and the same advice...."sorry, Mr. Elmore....send in another sample" Another sample?!? Its like they have no clue how difficult it is to shit in an envelope. *End Scene*
What's the furthest you've travelled for the least amount of money/open spot?
4 hours from my hometown to Halifax, Nova Scotia for unpaid open mic spots....no regrets though.
On a scale of 1-10 , how hungry are you right now?
4....I've finished my nightly snacking rituals for this day but it will be back up to a solid 10 by dawn.
How has lockdown been for you?
The lack of shows and resulting loss of income has been very tough...I feel as though I've lost my purpose in life. However, I do feel I have a leg up on everyone else with regards to the isolation. I've never been a particularly sociable person so that hasn't been a burden. I get to spend more time hiking with my dog and that takes the edge of the negatives.
Have you been more or less productive?
I'm always writing jokes in my head so that hasn't really changed to be honest. I've gotten way more done on Twitter than usual. As far as non-comedy based day work, there hasn't been much of that around here so there has been a dropoff in that respect.
Anything else you'd like to say?
Just thank you for running this in your wonderful blog. I am so thankful and I can not wait until this pandemic ends and I can come over to the UK to make you laugh in person!
Check out Darren's Patreon for more content - https://www.patreon.com/darrenelmore