Stand up comic Rob Durham is a regular headliner at clubs throughout the midwest. He’s written a book, and maintains a blog dedicated to letting new comics know the mechanics of the business.
How long have you been performing stand up?
Who are your biggest comedy influences?
My immediate family. My Dad has a very dry sense of humor. He’s sarcastic, and as I grew up, I started to understand his sense of humor more and more. He was a teacher and a coach and during his sports banquets he used to kill. I have memories of not always understanding his jokes, but hearing the reaction they got from crowds. A lot of times while I’m teaching with a bit of snark from frustration, I hear his voice in mine.
I got the goofier side of my sense of humor from my mother. She installed that silliness that a comic needs in order to take risks and not be afraid to try things. This came out a lot when I was in an improv group years ago.
Both of my siblings are much funnier than I am. My older sister says things that people immediately laugh about, and my brother is an artistic genius whose style is a lot like our father’s. Neither of them are the attention whore that I am though.
Describe your worst experience on stage.
In year two of my career, I finally booked my own private gig near my hometown in Ohio. The Richland County Cow Herders Society or something like that–they were farmers.
They left the lights on, gave me a lectern to speak from, and the worst intro of all time. Before they brought me up, they made a few announcements that ended with, “One last thing, I know a few of you heard about Steve last week. He was giving his shots to his cattle and one of them bumped him and he accidentally injected himself and died. Be very careful, it was such a tragedy. And now we have a special guest for you folks…”
I wasn’t very good to begin with and only one table gave me any laughs the whole 30 minutes. The lights were on, so the rest of them just stared at me for a half hour.
What’s your best on stage experience?
The first time I felt like I had a full feature set. It was a weird day–the day after Independence Day in 2008. I watched the Cardinals beat the Cubs with 3 runs in the bottom of the ninth and then rushed my friend back to the airport and hustled to Deja Vu in Columbia.
I was exhausted from being in the sun all day. I think that helped slow me down and my timing was finally right for the full 25 minutes. It took me 8 years, but I finally felt confident in my feature-length set. The second show that night proved otherwise. Deja Vu is still one of my favorite rooms.
What’s your favorite thing about the St. Louis comedy scene?
The comics are very proactive. They start rooms, create showcases, and really work to create opportunities for themselves and others. Sorry for the diplomatic NFL-coach safe-style answer, but it’s true. Yes, there’s a little of the typical cattiness, but that doesn’t really effect the vibe like it might in other cities.
I think we have a sense of pride about the comics who have come out of here as well–like Tommy Johnagin, Nikki Glaser, Greg Warren and Andi Smith who have all been on TV several times in the last few years. They’ve all given plenty of advice to the scene over the years. Plus, we also have a lot of comedy fans who plug and support our shows.
The RFT has been such a blessing as well. Since I moved here in ’05, five or six area clubs have closed, but there’s still a strong club scene due to opportunities they give to local comics to climb to the next level.
Is there anything you’d like to say to the people sitting in the coffee house where I’m typing up this list of questions?
Sifl & Ollie was MTV’s best show.
Rank in order of coolness: Pirate, Ninja, Zombie, Robot
Ninja is first. Look at the old NES games. There’s no “Pirate Gaiden” one OR two.
Robot is second–cause man, isn’t it funny when that’s the first way someone jokingly dances EVERY time–freakin’ hilarious.
Zombie–I’m a huge Cranberries fan, but actually not a fan of their biggest hit. Dolores O’Riordan has so many songs better than that, even on No Need To Argue. For example, “Ode to My Family,” the first track, is far superior. And I know what you’re thinking if you have XM radio…based on airplay “Linger” seems to be the bigger hit anyway, or maybe even Dreams. Both are better songs, but surprisingly, “Sunday” is that album’s best song. And since we’ve gone this far, I’ll answer it: “I Need Your Affection” is their best song. Disclaimer: Lyrics are not her strong point.
4th–Pirates. They’ve beaten the Cardinals the last 2 games I’ve attended. So to recap my answer: TLDR
Cake or Pie?
Both sound great right now. Both have a liquor based on them too. Pie is the only thing that’s actually not better when it comes from a restaurant–(just say homemade). It’s like the rare occasion when the movie is better than the book. Homemade pie is The Shawshank Redemption of food. Then again, you’re leaving a lot of responsibility to the maker of said pie.
I refer to my aforementioned late mother making cheery pie (side note: I don’t care for that song) and say that despite the birthday connotations, pie has a better nostalgia than cake and is therefore my choice. I’m a small-town hillbilly hiding behind a fancy v-neck from Kohl’s, and as much as I want to sound like a middle-middle class cake-eater, I’m probably still a lower-middle class (maybe even upper-lower class) man who favors a pie.
Plug something. It’s why we do this.
I’d like to plug my brother’s band, “Greenjeans” who mostly perform in Columbus, Ohio.
Of course I’ll plug, “Don’t Wear Shorts on Stage” because dammit if I can’t get enough of random Facebook comics trying to argue with me about how they’re the exception to the rule.
I’m hoping to put my 4th book out sometime early next year. I’m in the revision process right now. It’s called Crutch and it’s a semi-autobiographical story of why I’m a comedian. It’s easily the most depressing thing I’ve ever written.
I’m also hoping to put my comedy album out later this year. It’ll be titled, “Quarter ‘Till X” but I don’t know much about putting CDs out so it’ll take me awhile.