This weekly blog series features interviews taking place at the Dallas Comedy House (DCH) open mic with me and some of the funniest stand-up comedians in the area, most of whom just happen to be my best friends! Read to learn about your favorite local funny people and about the curious emotional makeup of people who like to go onstage alone every night to get laughed at. Clint Werth: The Man, The Myth, The Paco
Up until a few weeks ago, Clint Werth had the leonine mane and long, bushy beard of an old Western gunslinger, or at least an extra from Detroit Rock City. His locks newly shorn, Werth still projects an air of quiet rebellion--from his Twitter take-downs of Wing Stop to the brilliant deconstructions in his stand-up act of everything from the Bible to big oil, Werth is an anarchist of grump. But what really makes Werth a stand-out in the Dallas scene isn't just the uniqueness of his wry, unimpressed demeanor onstage and online--it's his impressive intellect, scathing wit, and unparalleled gift for comedic writing.
What was your first set like? My first set actually went really well, because I'd been hanging around and I'd met a bunch of comedians from my old job in radio where I had been a writer, and some comics had wanted me to write for 'em so I spent about six months hanging around and trying to figure out how that works because it wasn't something I really understood. So eventually, I said I'm just going to go up and try it out and figure it out. A lot of comics came in and watched me even though it was two in the morning. It was probably another three weeks before I bombed for the first time, and that was the worst experience of my life.
When was that? It was here, probably four years ago. Apparently, I got offstage after about 10 minutes and Landon had been lighting me since about minute three. I didn't see the light because I was so drunk I was just staring down at my shoes. It was really dark material--I was talking about how I wished my stepfather would have been murdered but he was too fat to be a marine and too stupid to be a cop.
It sounds like pretty quickly you understood the dichotomy of a joke. The set-up and the punchline I always kind of understood--the brevity. Early on, I kind of thought about being a one-liner comic because it just made sense to me. But at the same time you have to make this volume of stuff. When I worked in radio, I'd always have to make 20 current events quiz questions, we'd have callers that win prizes, stuff like that. It just got old. It was the same joke over and over again. There are only so many jokes you can write about Ryan Seacrest. The next day it's the same, it just repeats itself. It's almost like street jokes.
That's often the job, though, right? Like monologue jokes, it's writing within a formula. It is like monologue jokes, it frightens me because you almost have to be a hack to do that. You only have a limited amount of time, and you have to get from point A to point B the quickest. And if you thought of it first thing, chances are a lot of people thought of it.
I feel like you have a bit of a persona onstage--just kind of an amplified version of yourself. I don't really like being onstage, so I'll never be myself. Myself wouldn't want to be there. I don't like people looking at me (giggles), that weirds me out. I've never really been a personable person, so getting up there and doing it I feel like I'm overcoming a lot. Being a little bit gruffer, being a little bit louder--it was easier when I had long hair because I could kind of hide behind it. I'm getting more comfortable now compared to when I first started.
When did you fall in love with comedy? Very early on. My dad actually has a great sense of humor, which I figured is how he put up with my mom for as long as he did. He passed on a lot of it to me. When I was about 13, I had a steady diet of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 and The Simpsons, which probably had the most influence on my comedy. My first love was film. I always wanted to be the guy behind the camera, not in front of it. I did a lot of small, independent film stuff. Had a lot of friends who went to film school who I'd hang out with, volunteer on sets--something didn't seem right about it. Now I can't even watch a movie...
And enjoy it? Yeah.
Can you watch stand-up and enjoy it? No, I can't do that either! I'll watch it live if it's someone who's funny. Watching a filmed stand-up special is so choreographed and so not what stand-up really is. You have to be there in the moment.
What's your favorite memory in stand-up? I think my favorite was probably opening for Doug Stanhope. I've done it three years in a row now. When I first did it, everyone told told me what an asshole he was, how he liked to play pranks. "Don't drink anything he gives you!" Apparently the comic who had opened for him the year before me had gotten really drunk, and Doug Stanhope stuck a lollipop up his a** and gave it to that comic. But I never had anything like that. And this last year, he was just gracious and wanting to hang out. He took the entire staff of the Addison Improv over to the service industry bar. We were there drinking and eating food til one o'clock in the morning. Just the nicest guy ever, and it goes so much against this idea he's this edgy guy. He's just a nice guy. Sometimes you meet those clean-cut comedians who are monsters! Just complete sociopaths.
And you're a nice guy, too! Someone described me and said, "You are the nicest person in the world unless you don't like somebody. Then you're just a total m*th*rf*k*er."
Lauren Davis is an improviser and stand-up comedian from Dallas, Texas. Currently a student at the DCH Training Center, she can be seen weekly performing improv with her troupes LYLAS: Girl on Girl Comedy and Please Like Us, as well as doing her stand-up act at clubs around the area.