Local stand up comic, Scott James gives us the most exhaustive answers we’ve had yet.
Please give your name as you’d like it to appear?
Cowboy Commander Scott James. (Editor’s Note…We usually shorten this to simply “Your Name,” but we were afraid Scott would look a little crazy if we did.)
How long have you been performing stand up?
Five, maybe six years of glory. Seems like 3 sometimes. I have a recording of my first set in the bowels of my computer somewhere that could clear this up. I will not listen to it.
Who are your biggest comedy influences?
It’s you. It’s always been you.
Serious answer: When I was little, maybe five or six, my uncle Mark was really into Sam Kinison, George Carlin Eddie Murphy and Andrew Dice Clay.
He and my mom would send me and my older brother to bed and listen to records or watch the specials. Our bedroom was maybe five feet away and we could hear every word. That was my first recollection of liking stand up.
Kurt Metzger- White Precious
Nate Bargatze- Full Time Magic
Nore Davis- Home Game
Hannibal Buress- Animal Furnace
Chad Daniels- Natural Selection
Todd Barry- Super Crazy
Ryan Stout- Touché
Andy Woodhull- Step Parenting
Bill Burrs latest offering
These are albums I can always listen to.
Kevin Bozeman is pretty great too.
My daughter is getting into comedy now and that changes the dynamic for me a little. I’m constantly on the look out for comics who are reasonably clean and I think she might like. I’m not uptight about her hearing swearing but I don’t necessarily want to be the one to introduce the term “shit pussy” into her lexicon. Even though it’s technically a joke about the economy. Maybe we’ll try Stanhope when she’s a little older. Unless she’s already perused my Spotify playlist while I was at work. Sounds like something I would’ve done at her age.
Describe your worst experience on stage.
I try to be positive and look at every bad set or shitty crowd as an opportunity to learn how to deal with those situations. I’ve bombed plenty of times and thought, “Well, there is no pleasing these people. It’s late. their drunk, uptight, dumb, pretentious, not my demo, etc.” Then the next comic goes on and has a great set and I have to think, “It can be done, I just couldn’t do it.”
Sometimes they want Coke and I’m serving Pepsi (but really, it’s more like RC cola). That shit happens. I always think I need to tighten up, or maybe I’m too rigid, didn’t feel the crowd out, should’ve told cleaner or dirtier jokes…whatever. I try to eliminate variables on my end so I have less bombing stories in the future.
That being said, the worst experience I’ve had on stage involved two aggressively drunk/stupid people, who were also aggressively white trash, and a passive willingness of the door man to let them fuck my entire world up.
I was featuring for one of my favorite comics, which makes it sting extra hard. There was one table in a nearly sold out show that bothered me my entire set. Every set up they would yell a question. I never use my daughters name in jokes about her, In fact I rarely use her name at all. I always wind up calling her “kid”, “junior” or “buddy”. The guy kept yelling things like, “Why do you call her that?”, “Is she a lesbian?”, “Why don’t you use her real name?”, “Whats her real name” And at one point, called me a pussy. Classic. His wife, I assume, thought this was hilarious and would laugh the cigarette laugh I’ve come to recognize as a tell tale sign of inbreeding. It made everyone else in the room very uncomfortable and, with no hyperbole at all, I can say that it lasted my entire 25 minute set. I ate miles of shit because of these two. I have a recording of this too. I’m hesitant to listen to it.
The door man would tell him to be quiet. He and his turd/wife/cousin/who gives a fuck, would argue with him, be quiet for a minute and then start back up. Louder, it seemed. At some point, I just went on auto pilot and just sort of recited the rest of my set while this shit is going on with the low murmur of people complaining, telling them to shut up, and them threatening to whoop someone’s ass. It was white noise that grew until I could’ve said anything and nobody would’ve noticed. I did my time. 25 minutes on the dot. I clearly didn’t have the tools to fix this set or improve the situation at all. Honestly, I didn’t want to engage these two at all. Not only did I not think it would help. But there was still a headliner to go on and I didn’t want to leave things weirder than they already were.
I’ve been heckled before and been able to bounce back and get a laugh or at least quiet them down. But there was no flushing these turds and they should’ve never been allowed to carry on that long. It was supremely frustrating and totally avoidable. I could’ve eaten nails I was so mad.
The headliner went on and destroyed him for a few minutes after not being able to even start his first joke, and the club finally kicked him and his group out. What sucks is the other couple at their table was mortified and apologized to everyone on their way out. While the couple that was causing the problems threatened to kick everyone’s ass on the way out, including the headliner. Them finally being kicked out got thunderous applause and to his credit, the headliner was able to bounce back and have a really good set. Good. For. Him.
The rest of the crowd was great and these two managed to fuck up half the show for 300 people who were ready to have a good time. I hope, at the very least, their house had expensive plumbing issues or their check engine light on their car was on and they drove to work everyday hoping it’s just a faulty sensor and not the engine getting ready to shit the bed. I hope their coworkers constantly fuck things up and don’t say anything until the end of the day and they have to stay and fix it. Or, like, he has dental issues that he cannot afford and his daughter will, without a doubt, need braces and his passion is fishing but every now and then some dildo and his twat of a wife that clearly don’t respect fishing, scare all the fish away with stupid ass and border-ine creepy ass question about his daughter, who like I said, definitely needs braces…. I might be projecting. Fuck him. I hope his children stutter. Hopefully he and his wife died in a house fire. Other than that I’m pretty much over it.
What’s your best on stage experience?
That same week I had some sets I was really proud of and, maybe six months prior, I had featured for a comic I had previously hosted for. Things were really clicking and I was confident enough that I was a little looser and tried some things that I might not have if I was worried about eating shit. It felt really good that the last time this guy saw me, I was struggling pretty badly. Now I was having good sets and wasn’t knotted up and nervous before I went on.
My last set at O’Fallon Out Loud, I was really proud of and the last time I did Impolite Company was huge for me. I had been working out of town for a month or so and was trying to spend as much time as I could with my family and hadn’t been on stage for maybe a month before that. The crowd was great and I had a few friends from an old band that actually saw my Facebook post about the show and showed up.
My set wasn’t a 10, I was definitely rusty. But I did well and it was fun. The Crack Fox is one of my favorite venues. They serve my favorite beer. Some of my favorite local comics, and some old friends were there, and getting on stage after that long and being effective felt really good.
Two of my proudest moments in comedy, I wasn’t even on stage for. Once, I had given a tag to a headliner I was working with, he used it the next show and it got a huge laugh. That feels pretty good. It happened with another local comic too. I threw a tag out to him and maybe a month later he told me that line was working really well. I didn’t even remember it at the time but that’s a pretty good feeling.
I used to be in a few different bands and one of the things I miss about it is the collaboration. I like that stand up is something that I can write and perform by myself but bouncing ideas off of other comics that I respect feels pretty great. Comics have given me lines over the years and sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. But the idea of giving or receiving advice or encouragement or even constructive criticism, from someone that will mostly likely not benefit directly from it, is great. A real team effort.
What’s your favorite thing about the St. Louis comedy scene?
There are a lot of opportunities or experiences that exist in this city because there are comics that couldn’t be satiated with what was previously available. So motivated, enterprising, hungry comics had to create these opportunities and we’ve all, in St. Louis comedy, clocked stage time because of them. I’ve been lucky enough to be included on some really great indie shows that couldn’t exist in a lazy, complacent environment. Having two solid clubs for paid gigs is pretty slick too.
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?
Nah. It’s best just to leave them be. I tried talking to someone while they were drinking coffee once and he lost his shit. Went on this crazy tirade about personal space and stalking and threatened call the cops. Here I am just trying to make new friends. I can’t help but think it was the coffee that put him on edge.
Rank in descending order of coolness: Pirate, Ninja, Zombie, Robot
Werewolf, werewolf, Samurai, werewolf.
Cake or Pie?
Plug something. It’s why we do this.
Impolite Company @ the Crack Fox in delicious downtown St. Louis. Good bar, good stand up show. Hosted by Chris Cyr
Contraceptive Comedy @ Shameless Grounds in St. Louis. Good Stand-show, good coffee. Hosted by Stryker Spurlock
Parrots Open Mic @ Parrots Bar and Grill is St. Charles on Wednesday nights. Hosted by Andy Hamilton
O’fallon Out loud @ Rendezvous Wine Bar in O’fallon, MO. Also hosted by Andy Hamilton.
Happy Tree and Friends @ the Purple Martin in glorious St. Louis. Hosted by Tree Sanchez.
These are all monthly showcases for local stand-ups except for Parrots which is a weekly open mic. If you need more info on these events, I just want to remind you that you’re probably reading this on a Google machine. Meet me half way here. Just google St. Louis Independent Comedy and see what happens. Probably lots. There are show all over the place. Honestly, If you’ve read this far a little Googling won’t hurt you.
If you’re a comic see Micheal Riegner for a good deal on head shots and good quality video of you sets, suitable for festival submissions. It’s good quality work and Mike is a good guy. Don’t be a cheap fuck, he’s not running a non profit here. He will expect to be paid for his work and for what he charges you’d be getting a lot.
Listen to Rock Paper Podcast on iTunes or where ever you listen to podcasts. Hosted by Shane Presley. He’s crazy supportive of local music and comedy.
Follow me on Twitter if you like but be warned, it’s all right wing rhetoric. @Scottyjames81