Since moving to St. Louis, stand up comic Eric Brown has become a fixture of the indy scene. Consisting mostly of stories of his daily life, Eric’s comedy is incredibly self aware, funny, and interesting.
How long have you been performing stand up?
My first time was in February 2011. So a little over five years.
Who are your comedy influences?
Louie CK, Bill Burr, Gallagher, Marc Maron, Bob Odenkirk, Mitch Hedberg, Gallagher, Eddie Izzard, Gallagher, Patton Oswalt and Steve Martin.
I know that’s a lot but this is a hard question. I’ve been a comedy fan for as long as I can remember. I’m trying to list comics that I learned something from their specials, books, etc.
Describe your worst experience on stage.
I had been doing stand up for maybe 4 months in my college town, Carbondale, IL and I felt comfortable among my peers. There was a showcase at at a larger bar in the area that was charging a cover. It’s nothing now but it felt like a big deal at the time.
I was asked to do 5 minutes. We had an out of town comic from St. Louis that I hadn’t heard of. It was Aaron Brooks and I was immediately after him. He did 10-15 before me and if I wasn’t nervous enough, he fucking killed, and I was super shaken by it. So I followed him and tried a few jokes. They were bad and I couldn’t get out of my head because I knew I just wasn’t going to do as well. I couldn’t handle how shitty it felt. So I started bombing and then I told the audience I was sorry that I wasn’t as funny as Aaron.
Then I tried some new jokes, and I asked the audience what they wanted to talk about. It was my first real insane bomb. And there was a moment on stage, where it’s falling apart and I’m ruining this show. I stopped trying and I just looked at the audience. I scanned their eyes and I quit squirming and fighting how unprepared I was and I told them, “I hate this too. I’m just gonna stand here and take this feeling of hatred and disgust because I want to remember it.”
I’ve bombed since, but I’ve never asked the audience anything and I’ve never been shaken by a comic before me again. It didn’t do me any good that night and it never will. We’re all separate entities and it took me eating that turd to realize it. Also, Aaron Brooks is great and was super nice, I just wasn’t prepared to deal with following him at the time.
Describe your best experience on stage.
I don’t have a specific story, but sometimes you just feel everything come together. When written material is hitting, I tend to start riffing and improvising too. It’s more fun for me and luckily it’s how my brain works. So anytime that happens it feels transcendent. It stops being about hoping they like this joke or that joke and it becomes something like when a band comes together. You’re all sharing a moment together because this line or idea has never been said live before this way and as I’m trying it, the audience hears it and we trust each other. It sounds lame. But to me when stand up is truly great it becomes a fun celebration of trust between the comic and the audience.
What do you like best about the St. Louis Comedy scene?
Everyone is working their ass off. New material, rewrites, tags, out of town bookings. Being accommodating to new or out of town comics. As a comic who moved to the city, the only discomfort I had was self inflicted. I was accepted almost immediately and began working harder and harder to keep up. The only issue we have is actually having too many talented comics here and not enough paid bookings to go around. I’m not pandering, I mean that. Moving to STL, I thought of it as a place I’d tolerate until I could move elsewhere. But I couldn’t feel more at home here with my peers.
We’re typing these questions up in a coffee house. Is there anything you’d like us to tell the other people here?
Come to some goddamn shows. There is something for everyone, from straight stand up to variety and novelty shows to improv. St Louis has a huge and growing comedy community.
Rank the following in order of coolness. Pirate, Ninja, Zombie, Robot.
Ninja. I like the agility.
Robot. I like the potential.
Pirate. I like the lifestyle.
Zombie. I like that they focus.
Cake or Pie?
Neither. Ice cream cake! (Editor’s Note: This is literally a cake.)
Here’s a video of Eric performing recently. Book him for something.