As a young man growing up in Pasadena, California, I had many interests. One was trying to see much of the best stand-up comedy available play the local clubs (stop me and I will tell you about not one, but two encounters with George Lopez, one in a Yum Yum Donuts). The second was pursuing and getting to know more about the behind-the-scenes stories of how entertainment was made. Although I never got to fulfill my dream of being an extra/townsperson of Stars Hollow on Gilmore Girls (so that Lauren Graham would fall madly in love with me), I did have a wonderful opportunity to work backstage with a wonderful array of today’s best stand-up comedians at Day 2 of the Dallas Comedy Festival and get an E:True Hollywood Story perspective of what they go through before performing at a high-pressure gig. Here are the highlights:
- Although we had a variety of comedians from all over the United States, they immediately seemed to bond, regardless of geographic origin or how long they have been doing the craft. Among topics of discussion: “Do you know this comedian?” and “Have you ever played this obscure club on the road?” It seemed like at least one person in the room could always say “yes,” and then the conversation ignited from there with connection after connection revealing itself. I was flabbergasted that there was an animated discussion about a club in this totally random, previously unknown, city in Iowa that two comedians enthusiastically hailed as “a great place to play.” Funniest truth revealed? Nick Daniels stating that he had studied at Second City and that people always ask questions of him like, ”Oh! Do you know Stacy? She went to Second City once. She has brown hair.” Like anyone could ever really know Stacy.
- Stand-ups actually get nervous. I always thought comedians had ice in their veins, and seeing Christian Hughes and Grant Redmond perform several times, I felt like that had been confirmed. However, it appears that the Dallas Comedy Festival raises the stakes, even for those who have performed on this very stage before. One adorable local was dealing with nerves at the beginning of the night, but later came out and absolutely killed on stage, with no evidence of worry. Oops, did I just out you, Katy Evans? Sorry! You did own the crowd with that performance, however, so….no hard feelings?
- There was a wonderful collection of off-the-wall conversations, particularly a debate over which Parent Trap movie was better, the Hayley Mills version or the one with young, undamaged Lindsay Lohan. That was the first time that comedians had mentioned Lindsay in quite a while without her being an actual punchline. Go Lindsay!
- However, the best moment of the night was when Tyler Simpson took the stage, or should I say, had the restraint to not take the stage for almost one minute as the opening strains of Kid Rock’s “Bawitdaba” blared throughout the house. The entire cavalcade of comedians gathered backstage huddled into the alcove side stage to witness the spectacle. They collectively could hardly keep their cackles at a volume that would not be detected in the next county. I am not an expert on comedy, but when you get your peers that excited, I think you win the evening.
Well, next year I hope to have another evening backstage as amazing as this one in the new place. I look forward to meeting the next batch of upcoming comedians with the hopes that maybe Amanda will see it in her heart to turn the backstage area into another Stars Hollow and film a Gilmore Girls reunion there at this time next year.
Glenn Smith is a graduate of the DCH Training Program and performs regularly in the troupe Juan Direction.