Passion is tough. Comedy is tougher.
Propared had the opportunity to catch up with Ian Hunt and Eric Schmidt, who produce Good For You , a comedy show quickly gaining notoriety here in New York City. This event isa showcase for stand-up comedians, and features newer acts alongside seasoned pros. Good For You happens every 2nd & last Saturday at Cantina Royal in Brooklyn.
Producing any show is a daunting task. Executing a popular comedy show in NYC is a task that requires multiple skills. You’re scouting venues, managing multiple calendars, and contacting new talent continuously. Producers can feel like they’re constantly having to grow new arms. Ian & Eric have taken on this task with enthusiasm, and their hard work & dedication shows.
We had the chance to ask them about how they became interested in the world of comedy, and what it takes to produce this successful show.
Lets start at the beginning…
How did you guys get into the comedy biz?
Eric: My parents let me start watching Letterman when he was on Late Night at NBC back in ’92 (I was in 2nd grade). I always loved the HBO and Comedy Central Presents Stand-up specials.
Ian: We’re lifelong comedy nerds. But we are not comics. But we wanted to be a part of it.
Eric: Ian and I were both pages at the Late Show with David Letterman and we had both been huge fans of stand-up. We both had always wanted to produce our own show, but had never met or found the right force to drive us in that direction.
What made you guys want to take that step to create and produce your own comedy show?
Eric: We are both hilarious, but we are not comics. We are more writers, producers.
Ian: A while back, we produced a weekly web series. After that we made some YouTube sketches/videos. We were happy, but we were running out of steam, getting frustrated with each others’ availability (I had two jobs at the time.) We wanted to keep making funny stuff, but didn’t have the time to meet, write, and shoot. I wanted to still be involved, in a big way, with what was happening in the New York City comedy world. This is a different scene, as opposed to Los Angeles, Chicago, etc.
Eric: Like Ian said, all we wanted to do is make people laugh. How do we do that? We had to take over. We had to make something. We had to make our own show.
Ian: I pitched Eric the idea of running a show where we could put our knowledge of the NYC comedy community to use. We were able to hit the ground running. And we had friends who were excited to support.
How did you guys pick the venue?
Eric: Like anything in New York, or, better yet Brooklyn, we found the space via word of mouth, and friends’ suggestions. It’s all about who you know. We checked out a few spaces that weren’t quite right.
Ian: Eric’s co-worker knows the owner, and knew we were desperate. We weren’t optimistic until we saw it. Located in the back of a tiny Mexican place is a huge space with high ceilings and great sound.
Eric: Who would’ve thought that? Not me. But it has been our comedy home for over a year. We just celebrated our first Good For You anniversary in February.
Ian: It seemed very punk rock to put on a vulgar comedy show in the back of a nice, bustling Mexican restaurant.
Talk to us about working for David Letterman? What production was your favorite?
Eric: There’s an inexplicable energy at the Ed Sullivan Theater. The Beatles performed there! It’s the coolest job I’ve ever had and I met a lot of great people there. I was a page for a year from October 2009-October 2010 and I still wear the Letterman jacket. It was always fun when Bill Murray was on, because you never knew where he’d end up in the building.
Ian: There is a funny bone….a funny vibe running through the whole place, the whole staff. Weirdness is encouraged. Everyone there wants to create or help create something special. Eric and I met and had the same sensibility and views on comedy and comics, and stand-up in general.
How do you book the comedians for Good For You?
Eric: We reach out to our favorite comics via Facebook and Email and they actually say yes sometimes. It is simple and stupid.
Ian: It is simple and stupid.
Eric: But anyone we see on tv or online that we like, we will stop at nothing to at least reach out to them. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
What’s Different About Your Approach?
Ian: We are hungry to produce laughter. Comedians are hungry, they want to work all the time. We are just honest. Most jump at the opportunity to be on stage.
Eric: When they see that our audience is really there to laugh, they ask to come back. I think it’s important to mention that our comics perform at all the expensive, two drink minimum, “real” comedy clubs all over NY, then come to our small free show, just because it has a fun party vibe. Who would you rather perform for, older tourists? Or kids living in the neighborhood who can relate to your jokes about sex, the L train and $1 pizza? If you can relate, you laugh harder, it’s funnier.
What’s your definition of comedy?
Ian: Anything that makes you laugh.
Eric: Use Ian’s answer.
Is this an educational experience? What do you learn from this?
Ian: I’ve learned if you’re working on a passion project, it’s better. I’ve been to shows around NYC where the promoters are booking comedians because that’s their job, and the audience is there because it’s something to do on a Saturday, and the comics are there because it’s a paycheck. Those shows have a very different vibe than ours. We book comics that we’re fans of; the audience is there because they love this stuff, they’re ready for a party. The comics come because our audiences are responsive and ready to laugh.
Eric: It is definitely a crash course in everything from producing to dealing with talent.
What are your comedic goals?
Eric: Our goals are simple. Push the envelope. Push, push, push! Get weird. Get brilliant. Get brave. Be bold. Make the best show possible.
Ian: Bringing comedy to the masses is a different sub-culture unto itself, and it takes a different breed; someone who loves the art of stand-up comedy and wants to create it, but in the long run does not want to be a comic themselves. We just want to facilitate and be in the background.
From when you started brainstorming the act of producing your own show, is it ultimately fulfilling?
Ian: It is! I love doing it. I’d say more than being fulfilling, it’s just fun. Every two weeks we get to see exactly the show we want to see. I still think it’s ridiculous that I can email someone I’m a huge fan of, ask them to come perform, and they thank me! Sometimes it feels like a scam, like tricking your favorite musician into coming over to your house and playing music for you and your friends.
Eric: Ian said it perfectly. We get to make something special with people we look up to in laughter. We want laughter to be our business.