Mic Moments: Danny Neely

Stand-up comedy is an art form that is vulnerable, honest and raw, while radiating pure magic-- and a lot of lies, too. It’s so much dang FUN. Personally, I have the utmost respect for stand-up comedians and that’s why I’m writing this spankin’ new blog to interview performers for upcoming Friday Night Stand Up shows at Dallas Comedy House, which you can attend any Friday at 10PM!

My first interview is with the wholesome, humble and hilarious Danny Neely. If you know him, you’re lucky. And if you don’t, just walk up to him. I’m sure he’s totally fine that I’m urging strangers to approach him. Maybe not. Regardless, he’s funny AF (like a universal funny that anyone can vibe with) and he’ll be performing this Friday at 10PM at Dallas Comedy House, so you can walk up to him after the show. He’ll love it.

Danielle: You seem to have your hands in everything from all kinds of performing to running production on sets. How much stand-up are you doing these days?

Danny: I am trying to go to the DCH mic every week; that’s not always happening. And I try to go to the Noble Rey mic when I can but I actually don’t really go to any other mics. I would like to be devoting more time to stand-up but right now it’s like a mic, maybe two a week if I’m doing real good.

Danielle: How long have you been doing stand-up?

Danny: I first started doing stand-up when I was… like right after I turned 21, January of 20-- oh boy, uhh 2013... January of 2013, I think it might have been.

Danielle: Okay. So like five years?

Danny: So like five years but I started in college and in the college town I was in, there was one open mic a month and it was in a bar where most of the people didn’t know that [the mic] was going to happen and there was an occasional show on campus. I actually organized the show on campus so that there would be a show, because I met so many cool people in Kansas City-- I went to college in Kansas… I’m sorry for derailing so much here...

Danielle: I was going to ask for your hometown and all that later so that’s good.

Danny: Cool, so I’m from Kansas City. I went to college in Manhattan, Kansas which is about two hours away, and when I was home for the summer after I first started doing stand-up, I met all these cool people that I thought were really funny locally in Kansas City and I thought, “Ah man, I should come do comedy in Manhattan because college-- that’s a good audience for comedy, like people would be excited to see that so we started doing shows. But to circle back around to the original question, I’ve done it for like, five years but when people ask about five years, like I don’t have the experience and polish that a five-year-in person should have because I was doing stand-up 20 times in the first year-and-a-half to two years that I even did it, ya know?

Danielle: Yeah, so are you passionate about it or is it just fun?

Danny: Uhhh, well it’s not just fun because it breeds anxiety and bowel movements for me, ya know?

Danielle: Right.

Danny: I love doing comedy and for me it’s always been really nice to have a combination of things cooking, whether it’s like sketch or writing something more longform, stand-up or improv, because when one thing kinda sucks or it’s not fun, you have something else to turn to. And I wish I gave more time to stand-up and then sometimes I get disillusioned with it and then sometimes I question why I do comedy at all. But I keep doing it through all of that because I love it, I think that’s what all of that means.

Danielle: One of the first jokes I heard you tell was the Kansas state flag one at an open mic and I liked it because it’s sort of personal, but also just a good stand-alone joke. So like, why did you start doing stand-up?

Danny: Well I started doing improv in the fall of 2012 in college and then that was kinda the next step, like I knew people in town from the improv troupe that did stand-up, and I was like, [shakily] “Could I do that?” But even before I went into that, I was interning in Green Bay the summer before, and I had to live on this college campus, and go to work for this private dairy. And I lived with other interns. Everyone else was over 21 except me so like on the weekends, everyone would go to the bars and I couldn’t get in so I spent a lot of time alone, high, watching basketball or playing video games that summer. And throughout that time, I wrote out jokes, like a set about my college, about the college football coach, who is this guy, Bill Snyder, who’s super old. And wrote some jokes about that so if ever the chance came about, this would be my thing, and then eventually I did it six months later once I got the confidence to get on stage-- a lot of that from improv.

Danielle: Green Bay, Michigan?

Danny: Uhhhh Wisconsin.

Danielle: Oh, right. Yeah. [both of us laugh at me]

Danny: I’ve never been to Green Bay, Michigan.

Danielle: Uhhhhhh who’s your favorite comedian?

Danny: [huge sigh] I think I watch a pretty shameful amount of stand-up. Like I don’t see that much and I know people who are very like, “I like this person, this person’s recent thing was better than this thing.” The things that have killed me recently: Rory Scovel Tries Stand-Up For The First Time. I’ve watched that special like five or six times and I don’t usually do that with comedy stuff but that special still kills me every time. So he’s up there. Nate Bargatze: I’ve loved for a long time, like watching YouTube clips of him. So those two guys are what came to mind first.

Danielle: So how do you think a Kansas audience differs from a Texan audience?

Danny: I don’t think they’re wildly different. I’ve been in some rooms like, when I’ve visited friends in Chicago or something, where it’s like: this is a comedy town where there’s more of an understanding that a lot of people in the room are going to be comedy fans or comedy nerds or also performers. Those shows are so much fun because you can just do whatever you want. But I would say, by and large, my experience in Texas and Kansas: if it’s a room of just people, that room’s about the same. You kinda gotta feel it out. People aren’t anymore sensitive there than they would be here. I think culturally they’re actually pretty similar places, Kansas and Texas.

Danielle: Gotcha. I’ve never been to Kansas so I have no idea.

Danny: There’s a little more of just like-- Texas doesn’t get described as the midwest, right?

Danielle: Yeah, right.

Danny: Technically it’s the South or the Southwest or both, I don’t know. And for me, people are very similar as they would be back home but there’s this more midwestern neuroses of like, I just don’t want to be in the way and I don’t want to inconvenience you at all, like I would do anything to keep from inconveniencing you because that’s the worst thing I could do. And also leads to a lot of…

Danielle: Self-guilt or...?

Danny: Self-guilt and like repressed things among family members. Like no one talks about it. No one wants to be rude. Like I wouldn’t want to make things uncomfortable by addressing this clear elephant in the room.

Danielle: I get that. So why, and this is kind of random, but why did you create and produce and host Pipeline? Like why did you want to start it?

Danny: Uhm, I think get more credit than I should for that show.

Danielle: Oh, okay.

Danny: Because Amanda kind of wanted a show like that to exist at DCH. And we’d been talking, I’d been talking to her about other ideas I had before that and she was basically like, would you want to host a show like this and I was like, absolutely, because I love that style of show. I love having a space where you can try something because you have to try something to know if it works and it’s really obnoxious to workshop stuff on your phones. And I just like watching people do real goofy stuff.

Danielle: Yeah, it’s a super fun show. It reminds me of The Chris Gethard Show that was on public access network… [here’s where I geek out about this show for awhile, and also the blanket/penis episode]

Danny: [laughs politely]

Danielle: Uhhh [coughs] so I wrote this, but uh-- where are you right now in your career if you had to describe it? Kind of a loaded question. You don’t have to answer it.

Danny: Yeah, most of the people I talk to in comedy are like, moving to Los Angeles or New York or Chicago, and that’s like, definitely not on my immediate horizon. I haven’t thought of it as like, well when am I moving to the next bigger thing? ‘Cause I like it here, I like the community here and the people here and I have a fun time here. And I get cool opportunities here. So I don’t know. I would like to think I would get a lot better at comedy as I go on, at stand-up especially. So hopefully I’m on the ups. Hopefully I’m not like, near the drug addiction. Lucky enough to not have a drug addiction yet so hopefully I’m a ways from that.

Danielle: And what can the crowd look forward to for your show on Friday?

Danny: Oh, Alvin Newsome’s set. He’s a really talented comedian. He’s closing it out. He’s going to be so good.

Danielle: And I want to ask everyone [for this blog series] what their favorite movie is so what’s yours?

Danny: Ocean’s motherf$#*in’ 11. I love that movie so much and I will talk about it to anyone who wants to talk about it.

Danielle: Tight, and do you want to promote anything that you have coming up?

Danny: ...oh! I’m in the Dallas Comedy Festival, I should say that! On Friday at 7:00 PM, I guess that would be March 30th, at 7:00.

Danielle: Doing stand-up, that’s awesome. Anything else you want to add?

Danny: [silence]

Danielle: Do you have a tagline or anything?

Danny: I don’t! I need a brand, I’m looking for ghostwriters to write my set…

SEE DANNY NEELY PERFORM THIS FRIDAY AT 10PM AT DALLAS COMEDY HOUSE OR CATCH HIM AT THE DALLAS COMEDY FESTIVAL DOING STAND-UP ON MARCH 30 AT 7PM, HOSTING PIPELINE AT DCH, OR IN IMPROV GROUPS, EMPTY INSIDE, COIFFELGANGER, AND WARM MILK.

Danielle Seright is a graduate of The Dallas Comedy House training program, including improv, stand-up and sketch. You can catch her running tech for DCH shows, hosting the DCH Improv Jam, doing stand-up around DFW and performing with improv troupes All In and Wiki Tiki Tabby.