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.
This week: Andrew Woods—Portrait of the Comic as a Young Man
Andrew Woods sits cross-legged on the leather couch at the Dallas Comedy House, sipping a Miller High Life. "I'm only here to talk about the album," he deadpans as I approach, a glimpse of the sniper wit that has gotten him work at the Addison Improv and Hyena's Comedy Nightclub. His style, like his stand-up, is immaculate but seemingly effortless. A pack of cigarettes sit snugly in the folded sleeve of his classic white t-shirt, and tight denim jeans encase his slim hips. Woods' androgynous appearance serves as a punchline to many of the jokes in his act—in a particularly funny bit, he bemoans his resemblance to Hilary Swank's transgender character in Boys Don't Cry—but don't let his boyish good looks and cool guy demeanor fool you. Behind that chiseled, porcelain face is a darkly, brilliant comedic mind responsible for crafting innovative, side-splitting riffs about everything from the perks of having a gay roommate to the curious rules of the Illuminati. I take a swig of my Lakewood Temptress and my seat next to the handsome wunderkind, excited to learn what drives the man some have called "The James Dean of Dallas Stand-up."
Thanks for sitting down with me, Andrew.
It's no problem.
Also, I think you left your charger in my car Saturday (hands him charger).
Oh yeah, thanks.
Let's start at the beginning: What's your earliest memory of loving comedy?
Quoting Ace Ventura to my sisters.
Did you use your buttcheeks?
Sometimes. I had range as a kid. Sometimes I'd say it out of my mouth.
An innovator even back then. Sarah Silverman says in her autobiography that her theory is that what makes a stand-up is essentially having a lot of shame as a child. Did you feel a lot of shame growing up?
No, I feel like I spend my whole life avoiding shame at all costs. It's my biggest fear. Embarrassment.
That's an interesting thing for a comic to be scared of, because more often than not stand-up is embarrassing. Especially when you start.
I don't know, I feel like I'm in control onstage. I can control why they're laughing at me. Anything I feel like someone could make fun of me for, I want to be the first one to do it. I want to get ahead of it. I would do that in normal life, before I started comedy even. Like if I had a zit, I'd show up to a party like "Look at this f*****g thing!"
You'd change your nickname to "the Zit" and get it put on a jacket.
I actually have a t-shirt that says "The Man," then an arrow pointing up, and it says "The Zit."
When did you first realize that you wanted to pursue comedy?
I always wanted to be funny but I guess it was when I first got laughs at an open mic, and I realized I could just do it by showing up. Like anything else I wanted to get good at, like guitar, you have to practice or take lessons and that costs money, and stand-up I could just show up and talk. Is cheap, is what they say.
But even before that, like in kindergarten, I'd do dumb stuff that I knew would make people laugh. I think that's from having four older sisters, so I had an audience at all times.
(A fan approaches)
Sorry, we're writing my memoirs right now. (He nods at me) She's transcribing them.
Is there a sister you bond with over comedy in particular?
Laura, she's eight years older than me, she was always the cool sister, her boyfriends introduced me to skateboarding, she listened to Tupac. I don't know how I knew she was the cool one, but I always did from when I was four years old. And she could tell a story better than anyone I've ever heard. She always had great stories coming home from Germany and stuff. She's better than all my other sisters to this day.
Has she seen your standup?
She hasn't. My only sister who has is my conservative sister. Her takeaway was that it was funny, but her husband had to explain a lot of the jokes to her.
What made you first decide to do standup?
At first I thought I'd have too much stage fright. I always thought of it...I mean I've heard this so many times...but I never thought it was something you could do. I always wanted to be an actor, or be on SNL, I thought those were the options for how your job could be comedy. I didn't realize stand-up was a thing. Honestly, I think it was probably watching a lot of movies like Comedians of Comedy or Live at the Purple Onion and realizing these are people just going onstage and doing whatever they want. So I was listening to a lot of stand-up and then I found out there were open mics really close and all you had to do was try it.
Your first set of jokes was probably the best of any brand-new comic I've seen in Dallas.
I went up probably a year before that and I wrote jokes that sounded like what jokes are supposed to sound like but they were s***. I went up in front of maybe five people three times. I liked it, I wasn't doing well but I wasn't scared. It was just so much easier not to come back—I kept finding excuses. Then about a year later, I started getting a nagging feeling, like "You should do that again." I brought out my comedy notebook from the year before, and it was all garbage. I wrote a new set, and it went really well, and I haven't stopped coming since then. I still do a couple of those jokes. So people's impression is like "You started so good," but I actually just got better in a year of not doing comedy.
What happened in that year?
I probably just consumed more comedy.
No. I don't really know what changed going from a 20-year-old to a 21-year-old, but when I looked at my old notes I just knew it was bad. I thought one joke would be good because it was about being left-handed, but then I read Seinfeld's first joke he ever did was about being left-handed, so I was like "Hey, I'm in good company."
What's your fondest memory of doing stand-up?
My favorite set was a show here at DCH that Grant and Christian put up the day after Christmas. It was packed out. Even though it was less people than other shows I've done, it was in that small space and everyone was really excited. Also opening for Sean Patton at the Improv and more just talking to him and being drunk buds after the show, was huge for me. Also Tyler [Simpson] came onstage at an open mic here on my birthday last year when he was being Texas man and shirtless wearing a Texas flag.
That was so fun. Are you seeing anyone?
When did you first realize Ray Romano was your favorite standup?
We're out of time! Well thanks for the interview Andrew. Wanna go watch the open mic for a little bit?
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.