Despite his youth, Kevin Hall is wise in the ways of the world. Last week, as he prepared to take the Dallas Comedy Festival by storm, Kevin spoke with us (via email) and shared some of his thoughts on great comedians of the past and present, life lessons, and the ideal audience. How did you get into comedy? I was always the goofball growing up, and once I was in college I realized I could share my stupid, bizarre thoughts with people on stage. With everything going on in the world people need a good laugh here and there. I have a part-time gig managing at a comedy club (Scotty's Pub and Comedy Cove in Springfield, NJ. They'd yell at me if I didn't shout them out) so it's fun to spread the comedy love around.
You mentioned people needing a good laugh here and there. Are you more likely to lighten the mood with an absurd thought or observation, or try to break the tension with some withering truth? A lot of my act is self-deprecation, so i'll mostly try to make the audience feel better about themselves with some terrible truth about me (being a virgin until the end of my junior year of college, alcoholic father, brother being a cancer survivor, etc.) I have an arsenal of withering truths, but they've translated into some solid bits.
What does it feel like for you when a show is going well? How about when you're not connecting with the audience? Killing onstage is one of the greatest feelings in the world. I'm turning 24 next month, and I'm still at that stage when I'm trying to figure out what I really want to do for the rest of my life. Every time I do well I feel, for one brief moment, that comedy is what I was meant to do. Connecting with an audience and making them laugh is amazing. Every time I do well makes all those open mics where no one is paying any attention so worth it. On the flipside, one of the key things I've learned doing standup over the years (I celebrated 4 years last month) is to take everything in stride. When you don't connect with an audience, that's just room for you to work on your own act and make sure it doesn't happen again. Sure, you can attack the audience, but that's not the kind of person clubs will book or other comics will have on their own shows. You never know who's going to be in a room on any given night. You have to maintain composure at all times.
Who were your biggest comedy influences? My biggest influence by far is Mitch Hedberg. He made standup so fun and relaxed, and his body of work is staggering. He had such a unique way of looking at the world.
Who are you digging right now? I just saw Bill Burr live. That was tremendous. Right now I'd say Burr and Hannibal Buress are my favorite comedians, but I find new clips online of people or see an up-and-coming comic in the city (NYC) so much that that list changes a lot. My go-to TV show right now would have to be Archer. It's so well put together and H. Jon Benjamin crushes everything he's involved in (Bob's Burgers is a close second).
What do you like about festivals? The main thing I love is interacting with and meeting new people, both comics and non-comics. You're surrounded by gifted, wonderful people with so many stories to share that it's hard not to get excited whenever you get accepted into a festival.
If you could compare your show to an eighties action movie, what would it be? Beverly Hills Cop. It's a nice balance of quirky weird jokes and no-nonsense action.
If you could have an ideal audience, who would be in it? My ideal audience would consist of: -My mom -My college improv team -My college water polo team -My best friends Nick, Greg, Amancio, and Tom -Geoffrey Chaucer -Anna Kendrick -A guy selling tacos during/after the show -Desmond Tutu -Bruce Springsteen
See Kevin Hall perform tonight at 7:00 at the Dallas Comedy Festival. Get your tickets here.