We’re spending the next month or so profiling the comics in the St. Louis scene. We’ll be covering a range of comics from seasoned pros, to open mic comics booking their first shows. Our goal is to give you a glimpse at who you can expect to see, no matter where you experience live comedy.
Scott James is a regular feature at The Funny Bone and can be found performing on independent shows around St. Louis. Most Tuesday nights, he runs the pre-show comics meeting before The Funny Bone open mic, where he always has helpful advice for new comics.
SOCIAL MEDIA INFORMATION
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN PERFORMING STAND UP?
8 years, 2 months, 3 days
DESCRIBE YOUR MATERIAL/STYLE OF PERFORMING TO SOMEONE WHO HASN’T SEEN YOU
I try to take real events and people from my life and tell jokes about them. The formula is pretty simple. If I thought about someone, or something, more than once through the course of the average day, and I tell the story in the course of general conversation, it’s material. It’s a very one-sided conversation. My wife, child, neighbors, job, home ownership. These topics seem to get the most traction for me. At least one of these topics will be relatable to the typical crowd and failing that, I go right into animal cruelty and people who died in funny ways.
Something for everyone. No politics.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST EXCITING THING, PERSONALLY, THIS YEAR, ABOUT STAND UP?
My last week at the Funny Bone here in St. Louis, I had a couple really fun moments playing with some new stuff. A few new lines, a couple whole new bits. Nothing is more exciting, year in and year out, than having new material work. It was a great week all around but the Sunday show wound up being the best show of the week.
Sometimes those crowds are smaller and can be a little tight but these people were all the way on board. It was a perfect recipe for a fun, loose show. Michael Malone was the headliner and he is one of the nicest comics I’ve worked with. We had good shows all week and got along really well so I was comfortable going out on a limb a little more.
Steve Beatty was hosting his first week at the club, so I was excited for him. He did great and everyone at the club was in a great mood. An all around good vibe.
Also, Duke Taylor, Sean O’Brien and Charlie Winfrey have started headlining there and that’s pretty exciting. Andrew Frank doing the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Vincent Bryant on Comedy Central, Reggie Edwards, the self appointed GOAT doing great and Larry Greene winning both the Helium and Funnybone contests this year. Libby Higgins, Renaldo Mercado, Steve Beatty, Adam Parker, Aaron Porter and Angela Smith all got their first hosting weeks at the Funny Bone in the last year or so. Rafe Williams recorded his first album at the Improv Shop. Libby Higgins and Tina Dybal’s podcast started in the past year. This all makes me excited to perform.
I know you asked for a singular moment but I can’t see a tip of the cap to some of my STL Comedy Heroes getting edited out given the nature of this website.
CURRENTLY, WHAT’S THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU ARE WORKING TO OVERCOME, IN STAND UP COMEDY?
It’s always, “What should I be working on next?” Should I get a website? Record an album? Try for more road work? A podcast!? I never think of doing comedy in terms of what it would take to make it a career. I just think about the fun, satisfying parts and as a result, I always have fun doing it.
BUT. At some point I should probably start making some kind of move. I take performing and writing pretty serious but don’t do shit on the other fronts. It would take prison time and a computer with no internet access to make me buckle down and do things I know I should be doing but don’t. Filling this thing out took more effort than it should, so I can’t imagine the teeth grinding, scalp burning slog that building even the most rudimentary website, or editing and uploading video from that Sunday show at the Funny Bone I’m so proud of to YouTube, or making a post for upcoming shows would be.
I logged into our family computer for the first time in months to do this and once I remembered my password, I found several barely started projects. A character outline for a Star Wars… uh…screen play, I suppose I started in a fit of rage after The Last Jedi came out, and a short story about a post apocalyptic United States restructuring into an agrarian society are the two I’m willing to admit to. I type at a rate that would make you think I was missing all my fingers save for my left pinky and right thumb.
I’m considering mowing my lawn in the rain in possibly the most ridiculous procrastination plot known to man. I hate mowing but I love having a mowed lawn… It’s an analogy, I suppose. My wife bought me Red Dead Redemption 2 for Fathers Day, so some of this is on her.
*short version* My own lazy ass.
WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST COMEDY GOAL FOR THE NEXT YEAR?
I need to remodel my bathroom, rebuild my deck and the concrete stairs that lead up to my house as they are slowly and steadily creeping down my lawn, pitching and heaving in a way that makes them treacherous to everyone but the James Family and mountain goats. They look as though they were crafted as a set piece for a Tim Burton movie and much like Tim Burton movies, I’m sick of them.
The uninitiated look drunk coming up them and worse going down, which is funny but will end in me being sued by a pizza delivery driver or my mail man or both.
The bathroom remodel is gonna be a motherfucker too. I’m not talking about a coat of paint and new tile. It needs gutted. Back to zero. Plumbing. Drywall. Sub floor. Every soggy, sagging, leaking, out dated, piece in this bathroom needs put out to pasture. I only have one bathroom and there is not enough privacy in the back yard to expect anyone to pee back there, so this’ll be a tricky one.
I need to be a little more ricky-ticky about mowing my lawn too. Every time I do it, it should’ve been done three days ago and I can’t imagine that my neighbors are thrilled at the state of my house. The old shit-ass over grown landscaping plants and wild bullshit that was growing all over my property when I bought this piece of shit grow back bigger and stronger every year no matter how many times I cut them down. Some of this shit will not die and I’m done fighting it.
Last year I rented a 30 yard dumpster to clean out my basement and demo my deck. The deck, if you’re curious, was in worse condition that the front stairs. It was $450 and a weeks worth of work for Mrs. James and I to not be embarrassed by our basement and it already needs done again. Unreal, man.
I suppose my goal for next year is to stay on top of the little problems so they don’t become these insurmountable, week long endeavors that are hard to start and never all the way done.
I know you meant, “What is my biggest goal in comedy for the next year?”, but that is not how the question was worded.
Headline more shows, I guess. Especially at the Funny Bone. It’s where I started. It’s a tough nut to crack sometimes but I’m at ease and comfortable on that stage and around those people.
The goal is to be able and welcome to keep doing comedy, even in the limited capacity I’m already doing it. It is important to me to keep being a good husband and father and I actually like my job.
Those spinning plates all feed the comedy so I kind of feel like I’m on a path that’s not leading me towards LA or New York or even Chicago or wherever comics move to makes the next step in their careers. I applaud those that do and have the tenacity and work ethic to make any kind of living out of comedy or any other art. Maybe when I start collecting my pension, I’ll make “making it” my full time gig.
WHAT IS ONE THING YOU WISH YOU’D KNOWN BEFORE YOU STARTED PERFORMING?
I wish I had read Rob Durhams book, “Don’t Wear Shorts on Stage” earlier.
This is a 100% serious answer. It’s not like me to give Rob any respect but there is very good, practical advice on starting to do stand-up and navigating the waters a little less clumsily in this book. My wife bought me the book for Christmas a year or two after I had started so I had already made a lot of the mistakes he references in the book. Rob autographed the cover for me. Hilarious.
If you’re new to stand-up, give it a shot. If you’ve been doing it awhile and no one can tell you shit, by all means, keep setting the world on fire you diamond in the rough. Either way, I’ve never seen Rob Durham in a shirt I didn’t hate.
IF YOU WERE A BEVERAGE, WHAT WOULD YOU BE?
I would not be a beverage. I would be a steak dinner. A ribeye steak, pan seared with butter, rosemary, thyme, course sea salt, fresh cracked pepper, whole garlic clove and minced shallot. Cooked medium rare to medium and finished with a pan gravy made by deglazing the pan with lager and reducing. On the side, I would have blanched asparagus and whipped Yukon gold potatoes with boursin cheese and leeks.
PICK ANY HORROR MOVIE. HOW WOULD YOU SURVIVE?
This thing doesn’t give you the option to skip questions. I would’ve skipped this one. I don’t see myself making it. I have a curious nature and as I understand it, that doesn’t increase your survivability in these movies.
DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING TO PROMOTE?
Friday, September 20. 7:00pm. Jokes and Spokes at Bike Stop Cafe in Chesterfield. This is gonna sound crazy. But I have a lot of experience performing in bicycle themed cafes so this will not be one to miss.
Podcasts: Slop City, Chuck and Sean, Rock Paper Podcast, We Are Live, Impolite Company, Casually Moll. Local comedy centric… I just listen to see if they mention me. They don’t. Good way to not talk to your coworkers.
Man. Adding all those links is a big ask. How much of the leg work should I be expected to do here. If youre on the reading end of this and youve made it this far, Ill assume you have the gumption to open your podcasting app and search for these yourself.
Im done with apostrophes too. And commas.
Books: A Brief History of the Dead and Rant. Interesting premisses. Real thinkers, these books.
Make sure to catch Scott around the St. Louis comedy scene, and check back tomorrow as we continue to highlight the area’s working comics.