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. Jeremy Schmidt: Smart Mouth
Jeremy Schmidt is an interesting blend of romantic and pragmatist. He's laser focused on excelling at comedy. He's sharp, competitive, and attacks every performance. But Schmidt is also an idealist who believes deeply in the transformative power of art. His concentration, incredible drive, and passion for comedy come through in his earnest, often wildly energetic sets. He delivers funny, inventive jokes and stories so descriptive and vivid they could double as flash fiction. Also he's just a really super friend and improv partner. You can see Schmidt at Fort Worth Hyena's October 29 at 8 p.m., on the "How's Your Dad" showcase at Dallas Comedy House on November 6 at 10:30 p.m., or catch us in our two-man show, Jeremy and Lauren Do You, at Dallas Comedy House on November 4 at 9 p.m.!
Jeremyyyyy! I just want the record to show I said video only, but I caved to do this not video.
We can do a Vine in the dark! Just multiple Vines that string together to become one long, giant interview.
Do you wanna do that? I don't know if it would work.
What was your first set like? It was good. My second set was terrible.
You and Alex Gaskin kind of like attacked from the beginning. You started creating your own open mics and shows almost immediately. Yeah, more Alex than me, but I definitely jumped on his shows. More his shows, but I'd help with the lineup and sh** like that. And y'know, we started older, not being super young, so we didn't make a lot of mistakes that people make when they're starting. We immediately realized if we wanted to do shows, we'd have to make them ourselves.
Do you take that DIY attitude toward what you're doing now? Nope, and I kinda didn't then. I work on whatever I want to work on, and kind of don't care about anything else that's happening. I try not to, anyway. Sometimes it starts to creep in, like, "What's the show I'm on this week? Who's it with? I don't like these people." Or like, "I hope I do good tonight!" But most of the time, I try to keep it very pure. Stand-up is like a very pure thing, where it's like, "Oh, I'm gonna go up to work on my own thing and I don't really care about anything or anyone else." For me, when I get onstage and see an audience, that's the only thing I care about in that moment.
You've always had really smart and dense material. Was it frustrating at first if the crowd couldn't keep up with you? Well early on, a guy told me not to be smarter than the room.
Who? Off the record? It was Butch Lord, you can publish it, I don't care. It was good advice, because who CARES if you have a Great Gatsby reference in your joke if nobody gets it. It doesn't make you feel better, it doesn't make you grow. Stand-up, I've found out recently, is about connecting, and it doesn't matter how you get there, as long as you connect. If you're like really smart, like a John Hodgman, or like a Chris Farley, you're gonna fall down and puke, whatever, as long as you connect.
How did you become more accessible without compromising your voice? I guess by understanding what a joke was. How to write a joke and be a part of a joke. I mean, you probably had this problem, writing bits that were too smart, or alty, and what did you do? You dumbed it down, right? It feels bad, right?
I don't feel like you do that, though. No, I try to work around it, I work really hard to get it in there. I won't throw out a very timely, poignant reference just to get people on board with it. And lately I've tried not to reference things at all, just reference myself. I learned that from - you were in A.A., recovery programs you're taught to talk about yourself. Talk about you, make "I" statements. Like with stand-up, and improv, too, take care of yourself. If you're a full character with a backstory, that helps everyone else onstage out.
How has improv helped you with stand-up? It's helped me to focus on that relationship. Instead of liking being with the people in my troupe, it's with the audience. We are all "yes and"-ing in a room together. You're going with me on this because I'm helping you go with me on this by giving you information. I also do a lot of crowd work, too, like talking to people in the audience and engaging with them.
What's your favorite bit you're doing right now? I'll tell you the bit I'm working on right now, it's all about dads. Just like what kind of dad I would be, y'know. And I really like the idea of just saying "Dad" a million times onstage. Isn't that kind of weird? You ever write a bit, and you're like, "I just want to say 'cornrows' tonight." On Tuesday, all I wanted was to say cornrows onstage. Like how important do you think you are? Like really answer that.
Umm... medium? The thing is, when people watch you, you're the most important thing that exists onstage, and the light hits your hair, and you're just walking around onstage so badass and you look like something somebody wants to hang out with. At least! It doesn't matter what you're saying, as long as I get to know you, just a little bit. Like you feel like, "I just had sex with you, just a little. Like we kinda just got together."
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.