Comedians at Bars Drinking Alcohol

This weekly blog series features interviews taking place at the Dallas Comedy House 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. Paulos Freerow

This week: Paulos Feerow—Portrait of a BFF

Paulos Feerow walks into Hyena's Comedy Club holding a to-go order from IHOP. He's dressed, as always, in a plaid button down shirt, a grey hoodie, a leather jacket, and jeans. His wardrobe is so predictable that it's a common joke among comedians that he dresses like a cartoon character. Just as dependable as his uniform is his presence at open mics throughout the week. Feerow is a mainstay of Dallas comedy, dedicated completely to the craft of stand-up he began almost three years ago. Recently, he has branched out to both sketch and improvisation classes, which he takes at Dallas Comedy House (DCH). Feerow's measured, slow-burn delivery compliments his self-deprecating jokes about his misadventures in drinking, sex, and adult life, as well as his recent turn as a incisive observer and commentator on racial tension. He's also great at giving advice and always there when you need him the most.

(Gestures to cup) Is there whiskey in this? Yeah, go for it.

Tell me about your first open mic. It was the original Dyer Street open mic. I signed up, because a buddy of mine told me to do it. I went up, did a bad joke, and immediately went offstage halfway into it. Then I decided to watch comedy for a long time—like I'd go to open mics and stuff

How long did you watch? Eight months. I'd watch like an open mic a week. Either DCH or Hyena's.

Would you recommend that to other shy people starting comedy? I would, but I think a lot of people already do that that I've noticed.

Me too. Keep doing that newbies! What was your first set like? They didn't get any laughs, but I felt really confident with what I was writing. It was tepid b*******t laughter, but I felt like I was on the right path—learning what funny is and also what to take out of jokes.

It's hard for me to interview you without leading you or making it about me because you're like my best friend in comedy/life. I remember you used to have a lot of exposition in jokes without much of a punch when you first started. And we'd stay up all night drinking and breaking stuff down and getting to the meat of what you were trying to say. That was cool. I was really weirded out by a lot of people when I first started, so I was glad you and I became instant friends when we were both kind of first starting, especially because you're someone else who really likes to write and think out your jokes.

We're both very much writers. We still do that (we laugh the knowing laughter of writers).

Overthink everything? It isn't bad.

Maybe not. Growing up, what were your comedic influences? I feel like I have this pre-recorded answer for people when they ask me that. I used to watch this show that George Carlin was in. I remember my parents letting me stay up to watch it, which was really weird because it was Fox and it was kind of just as bad as Married with Children and all that stuff, but I really think it was kind of just like my family. As a young kid, we were all real goofy, and we liked to laugh. My uncles and aunts are like the same way.

For a long time, you didn't want to tell jokes that had anything to do with race, you didn't want to be like... Black people and white people be like, right.

But I feel like you've really turned a corner as a comic by talking about it and making it funny and not in a cheap way. Not exploitative. I think I started off like, "I don't want to do this because it's been done. To death." And then I wanted to do it even less because so many people would come up to me after sets and say, "You gotta do that," and I was like, "But I don't have to. My jokes are working fine." It would really piss me off when people would say, "You know what would make that joke cool? Talk about being black." I was like, that joke is about peeing on my neighbor's door.

But you peed with your -JOKE REDACTED- Ha, you're going to have to take a lot of this out of the article. But I thought hey, I'm gonna talk about it the way I want to talk about it. Which really at the end of the day isnt even about race. I like to set up jokes where I talk about race and then it ends up being about something completely different.

You're really getting a really good handle on that, flipping the audience's expectation on its ear. Are those your favorite jokes to write? Yeah, I'm pretty sure you understand this—people are expecting you to be a girl up there. Every time you can make them believe you're going down that path they're expecting and wanting and then you end up somewhere else, that's fun for me and them too, right? And then when they enjoy that, you feel pretty good about yourself.

Do you ever get a crowd—this only happens to me every once in awhile—when they're disappointed that you aren't telling straightforward racial jokes? I mean, you have the same thing, where you feel the audience has very specific expectations of who you are from the moment you go up. We did a show in Mansfield not too long ago. Lot of country, white people there. I assumed they wouldn't get it, and they'd want me to be the black guy. But they were a pretty good audience! To answer your question—that sometimes happens, but sometimes they're the ones who subvert my expectations.

I feel like a lot of times those old country crowds are the ones who are really down to see comedy and will go with you even to weird places, even though you don't expect it. Some rooms you wouldn't expect love weird s**t.  Audiences can be real cool or horrible, horrible people.

Like everyone. What are your goals in comedy? I always wanted to write for something, I started stand-up because it allows you to write about a lot of different stuff, but now I'm in improv and sketch. I would like to write for TV, obviously comedy. I always want to keep on doing stand-up, for as long as I can.

Cool. Me too. I love you. Love you too, buddy.

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.