St. Louis Comedy Profile: Zack Stovall

Zack Stovall is an incredibly high energy performer who’s been involved in a number of creative projects here in St. Louis.  He’s performed with Sketchpad Comedy and The Catalogue, and his writing has been featured in Splitsider.  He really put a lot of thought into that “taco” question.

 

Name / Stage Name
Zack Stovall

How long have you been performing?
Seven years

What do you do? (Stand Up / Improv / Sketch / Video / etc)
Stand-up, sketch, cartoonist, writer, social gadfly and rabble-rouser.

URL / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Website: zackstovall.com
Facebook: facebook.com/zstovall
Twitter: @zstovall
Instagram: instagram.com/zstovall

Who are some of your comedic influences?
Eugene Mirman, John Mulaney, and Nick Kroll. Also, growing up I always appreciated big, loud, funny folks, like Chris Farley, Will Ferrell, and Jim Carrey.

Tell us about your worst experience performing in front of a crowd.
*extreme Stryker Spurlock voice* All of them!

When I first started doing stand up, I’d open the second act of an improv show at Lemmon’s just to get regular time. I went up in front of four people one time and two of those people were talking loudly during my set. I angrily made one long, sustained fart noise, for like 20-30 seconds, until they (and everything else) stopped. Turns out it was the grandparent of an earlier performer, and she was telling them how good they did. It’s hard to come back from trying to step up to an old woman, possibly knocking on death’s door, telling her grandchild they were good when you are so, so undeniably terrible.

Tell us about your best experience performing in front of a crowd.
Slaying at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner Valet Parking Union Afterparty Re-Cap Show and Clambake.

I’m just starting to travel for shows, so performing in new towns is always really exciting. Last year I got to do shows at well-known places like the Annoyance Theater and UCB in New York, but also at a comedy festival in Columbia and a small art gallery in Louisville. Those experiences have felt really validating and rewarding and generally great.

If I had to pick one time, though, I’d pick doing the Pecha Kucha presentation that became the basis for an actual gosh dang book, “Fancy Things.”  There were like 400 people there who came to hear motivating and inspirational speeches, not stand up, and “Fancy Things” ended up killing, to my shock and dismay.

What do you enjoy most about being part of the St. Louis comedy scene?
The free Imo’s®, baby. I’m lovin’ it.™

Easy access to stage time is great, but my favorite thing about the scene is that everyone for the most part works really hard and is really supportive. The expectation is that if you work hard enough and aren’t a jerk, good things are going to happen and you can build what you want from there. And the support is apparent, even if it’s not in someone’s respective wheelhouse. I’m a weird duck in that I dabble in a lot of different mediums, but I’ve never felt rejected by the stand up community for doing sketch work, or by the sketch community for writing and illustrating, etc.

Pizza vs. Tacos? You can only pick one. The one you don’t pick disappears from reality. Which do you pick, and why?
My brain says tacos. The definition of a taco is such that you could cover almost every necessary food group and still subscribe to the technical, albeit fluid, definition of a taco and placate the nefarious dimension-altering overlord putting this decision in your hands. What’s a cannoli if not an Italian dessert taco?

But my heart says pizza. GIVE ME MY PIZZA, OVERLORD. BE GONE TACOS, BUT KNOW I SHALL AVENGE YOU.

If I gave you a time machine that allowed you to visit yourself the day before you decided to start performing, what would you tell yourself?
MORE FROM THIS ODIOUS DIMENSION-ALTERING, TIME-TRAVELING FIEND? HE ALREADY TOOK MY TACOS, NOW MY SPACE-TIME CONTINUUM?

“Go with your gut and don’t stop working.”

I used to get burned out on one avenue of comedy, and feel like that was me failing at the first thing. It always felt like I was stopping and starting over, when I’d pull back on doing improv to do stand up, or stand up to write, or drawing. Over the past couple of years, I’ve gotten better at realizing it’s one whole worldview I have that comes out in a variety of ways, and it’s better to go with what my gut is telling me to do and present a joke or idea however it’s best served.

To wit, I classify my ideal stand up as one-man sketches; I’d have never known that if I hadn’t done Sketchpad AND stand up, and even improv.

Promote something. Any show coming up? Got a book? Describe your current project. Anything. Self Promotion is great.
Jan. 25, Comics Against Humanity @ Helium
Feb. 16, Generation Laughing @ St. Louis Public Radio.

“Fancy Things”, a book and accompanying variety show celebrating all things Fancy (things put in tuxedos) will be around in February, too!

Anything else you want to say?
I like eating lunch with people. If you guys want to eat lunch together, I’m down. And if it’s on the weekend? You best believe I’m brunching. And you can too!

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