This 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.
Dalton Pruitt: Audience Wrangler
Dalton Pruitt is one of the most consistently funny open mic-ers in Dallas, which is all the more impressive considering that's he's the ripe old age of 21 and has only been doing comedy for a year and a half. Pruitt's profound eloquence brings gravitas to his jokes about subjects such as sleeping with your cousin, the circus, and some truly disgusting puns, which he delivers in his native Southern twang. A devoted writer who is entirely committed to doing what he thinks is funny, Pruitt's unique and irreverent comedic voice is one of the most fresh and interesting that Dallas offers. I crouched with Dalton under the steps at Hyena's last night and we talked shop.
Dalton! Where did you start comedy? I started in Denton. There was this place called Banter in Denton, and I was really terrified. And I sat there for several hours, holding my notes, shaking. Then it went well, when I finally went on.
Did you have friends there? No. I was alone. I pulled myself out of my apartment actually. I wasn't leaving my apartment at the time. I was really depressed.
You were a student then? I still am and probably will be for the next 15 years til I figure out what I want to do. It didn't go terribly. You hear all these stories about people's first time going up, how it was a bomb. I've certainly had bombs, but that town was so bereft of comedy. The fact that I just sat down and wrote jokes.
Comedy does seem a little more amorphous there. Here's what I'll say about that town. I did comedy six, seven months before I came out here, so I've only been doing comedy in the big city for about a year. Honestly, what that town did, having no frame of reference for comedy, it gave me every bad audience you could think of. And then I came out here, and I was like, "Oh, they're listening."
Because there wasn't any comedy clubs, just coffeeshops and bars. People would come to open mics, but they were there to drink and mostly listen to music. Comedy requires people to pay attention, while music just needs people to be drinkin'.
It was a lot of crowd wranglin'. When I got out here, it was a treat. I still love doing shitty bar shows. (pause) This feels weird, because like... we're friends. I feel like I'm trying to be too professional right now. Everything I just said I felt like I was trying to talk like I'm in an interview, which I am.
Well, a lot of people do that because it will be published. I just realized I was Charlie Rose-in' this sh**.
The most impressive thing you can do in one of these is to somehow make it funny. That's what I'm worried about is I'm gonna be a complete dullard. You would be astounded at how boring I really am.
Is it weird going to school and being around young, smart people who aren't comics? I'm taking two classes right now, and I'm actually afraid to speak in class because I don't want to overpower. I'm so used to always just trying to be on, I don't want people to think I'm trying to be the class clown, be the performance artist, the entertainer, in an environment where it's completely inappropriate, where everybody's paid $1,100 to be in there.
What are your goals in comedy? You're very funny. Right now, I just want to work on getting talented and getting funny. It's weird because obviously I've killed before, I feel weird. I don't want to let any good set get to my head, and I'm afraid to admit I'm actually good at anything. But yeah, just like any artist I just want to get better at it. I just always want to entertain people and be funny. Ideally yeah, this is what I want to do for a living.
I'm trying to write more outside of stand-up. Do you find that writing your short stories for college helps you with comedy? Oh yeah. Writing helps with any artistic endeavor. Just sitting down and writing anything, your thoughts, trying to write out a scene. I think that's where a lot of folks will suffer in trying to be creative, especially in comedy. They just don't sit down and write enough.
You get lazy in your writing, your five minutes you've been doing and that's all you do. There's one chapter of a book that I've read, it's called The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron, and it's just one of these dopey spiritual exercises, but she says sit down every day, preferably in the morning, and just jot down three pages of whatever nonsense you can think of. So I'll do that, and then if I feel like I want to write more, I'll either keep journalling or I'll try write a story or just jokes or just premises, just ideas and whatnot.
Especially when you sit down and write with a pen, this is where I get all hippy dippy on you, because everyone nowadays has their f***in' phone, or their computer, and they're click-clacking. There's a disconnect, to me, there is. I don't want to be the artsy-fartsy type, because that's not how I do things but there is something about putting a pen to paper that seems to help me.
Let's talk about your Facebook performance art of you shirtless eating stuff. It's just a joke! You interviewed Brandon and Tyler, and they told me something you said that I think is f***ing hilarious. You said, "He is so brave for doing that." And I'm like, I don't know what's brave!
I meant it jokingly, like referencing what people said about Lena Dunham when she first started getting naked on Girls. But if I had a six pack or was a woman and was [taking my shirt off and eating things], people would be like, "Rock On!"
But someone like that would be doing that for a different kind of attention. Still, it wasn't like a body acceptance thing, it was like me being goofy. I don't think you should accept a sh***y body, I mean, this isn't healthy! And we've talked about this before, with Facebook notifications you get that dopamine drip. I mean, if I could show everyone my d*** on Facebook, I'd show everyone my weird, fat guy d***.
Lauren Davis is an improviser and stand-up comedian from Dallas, Texas. 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.