St. Louis Comedy Profile: Kris Wernowsky

St. Louis Stand Up Comedy, Kris WernowskyKris Wernowsky is one of the creators of “Sorry, Please Continue.” Though he lives in Cleveland now, he’s a St. Louis comic at heart.

He also wrote us a little sketch as part of his answers. Bonus!

Your Name
Kris Wernowsky

Your artform of choice?
Stand up, storytelling, podcast

How long have you been performing?
Technically it’s five years, but it’s more like about 3 ½ because I had a big gap because I had to move to a city where I couldn’t do it on the regular.

Who are your biggest comedy influences?
For some reason my parents didn’t care that I watched old Richard Pryor specials on HBO. That, of course, led to watching a lot of Def Jam, Not Necessarily The News and other sketch shows like In Living Color, SNL, etc. I also used to watch a bunch of Monty Python on PBS. Then it’s the traditional sources: Rock, Louis, Maron, Garofalo, Dangerfield, etc.

Tell us about your worst on stage experience.
Oh, soon after I moved to St. Louis, I was doing an open mic Tuesday at The Funny Bone. I went up with the long, rambling thing that I wrote that day and it tanked miserably. I think it sucked more because I had someone at the club vouch for me and I kind of blew it. I asked him when I got off stage: “So was it as bad as it felt?” And his response was: “Oh, yeah.”

And I still kind of feel bad about it. I handled it about the way that any person like me would: I drank a lot and let it ruin my confidence for months.

What’s your best on stage experience?
Honestly, the most fun I’ve had on stage in a very long time was the first Sorry, Please Continue show where Kenny, Jeremy, and I were on stage for the first time since we actually started show. The gig was at The Improv Shop. The topic was “travel.” Rob T was there, of course. But it was just one of those times where everything came together well. All of the storytellers were great, and I think we did a very good job of illustrating what makes us work so well together.

I learned that I have a sweet spot when it comes to drinking before a show, and that night I found it!

What do you like best about St. Louis’s Comedy Scene?
I’ve only lived in two real comedy cities since I started, so I can’t speak with the breadth that someone who, say, has lived in NYC, LA, Denver, etc. But I will say that there’s a lot about doing comedy in Cleveland that makes me miss doing comedy in St. Louis.

It wasn’t really the case when I started there, but St. Louis now has a lot of established places to do comedy. And there’s a variety of venues. Foam, Fitz’s, The Firebird, The Improv Shop, Shameless Grounds have all been pretty amazing. We really have nothing like those places in Cleveland. And shows seem to die as fast as they start up (with a handful of notable exceptions).

And the clubs in St. Louis, for better or worse, are actually very accommodating to locals. Breaking into the clubs in Cleveland is a little more difficult because neither club does weekly open mics. As much as comics grumbled about the open mics at Westport Funny Bone and, to a lesser extent, Helium, it does help build a better community. It’s not without its pettiness and childish faults (what scene isn’t?). It’s kind of why I miss being there.

You have 30 seconds to convince someone that live comedy is better than staying home and watching Netflix. What do you say?
“So what do you want to do tonight?”
“I don’t know. I kind of want to stay in and watch Netflix.”
“Oh, c’mon. You’ve been wearing your ‘I never leave the house’ sweatpants all day. Let’s go out and see some standup.”
“Interesting. I hear there’s this open mic at this Irish pub…”
“OK, I’m going to stop you right there. If you haven’t been to a lot of standup shows, I would rather you go to a show that would leave you with a favorable opinion of local comedy.”
“What’s wrong with an open mic at an Irish pub?”
“Almost everything.”
“Can you be more specific?”
“Well, usually you’re watching 20-30 new or open-mic level comics and it’s kind of an endurance test of horribly written rape jokes and Bill Hicks wannabes. Couple that with a dank Irish pub atmosphere, and a lot of bros and bitter, old drunks, it’s a recipe for disaster.”
“Well, then, what would you suggest?”
“Maybe we should go to a showcase.”
“What’s the difference?”
“A showcase is curated by someone who (hopefully) picked a good mix of comics who possess some level of skill. It’s a much more enjoyable experience.”
“Got it.”

Rate the following, in descending order, based on how well you’d do in a fight against them? Candyman, Freddy Krueger, The Girl From The Ring, Chucky

Chucky — I mean, a homicidal doll is still a doll. I don’t think it would be hard to kill
Freddy Krueger — His terrible jokes would give me the strength of The Hulk. I would rip his arms off and beat him to death.
Candyman — Leave it to Hollywood to try to create a monster somehow scarier than living in a Chicago housing project.
The Girl From The Ring — Easy, I don’t own a VCR

What are you having for dinner tonight?

Plug something. It’s why we do this.
We’re planning a short SPC tour through some Midwestern cities this fall (going from Memphis to Phoenix to New York to LA wasn’t exactly efficient traveling).