I had an opportunity to throw a stand-up comedian interview up on April 1, but then I thought, that's such a cheap move and they deserve better. Well, until I interview someone who is truly bad. --- This month we chat with Greg Kyte, one of the few clean stand-up comedians finding major success throughout the state and on the big stages in Salt Lake City. Kyte takes his personal experiences from being a Certified Public Accountant and belts out true-to-life comedy about the absurd bullshit he sees and many deal with on a daily basis. Today we chat with Kyte about his career as well as local comedy. (All pictures courtesy of Greg Kyte.)
Gavin: Hey Greg, first off, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Greg: Yo, Gavin, thanks for asking. I'm a CPA and a comedian. As a child I often visited my Grandma Kyte's farm. She's dead now, but she wrote a book called Plants From Test Tubes: An Introduction to Micro-Propagation. The fourth edition is available in hardcover on Amazon for $25.79. I started swimming competitively when I was 8 years old for my local team called the Mountlake Terrace Lemmings. My left earlobe is dangly, but my right earlobe is attached. That's very rare.
Gavin: What first got you interested in stand-up comedy, and who were some of your favorite comedians growing up?
Greg: I gave some funny speeches in high school that were very well-received by my fellow students as well as the faculty, including one titled "How Hostess Products Have Influenced Me Physically, Emotionally, Intellectually and Spiritually." That one propelled me to homecoming king and gave me the dream of stand-up comedy. I almost started my comedy career in a talent competition at the Seattle Center in late 1990, but then I got pretty busy for 12 years. My first show was an open mic at Blue Cats Coffee Shop in Sugar House in 2002 hosted by John Clark, where I crushed it for the eight-person audience with my impersonation of Chris Farley giving a talk at general conference. I didn't have much exposure to stand-up when I was growing up. I did, however, have a bunch of really funny friends, like Robert Dixon, Mark Yocum and Richard Chamberlain (not the actor, the 5th-grader). I wanted their power.
Gavin: What officially brought on the decision for you to attempt it as a career?
Greg: Dang. I don't think I have officially attempted it as a career. I enjoy health insurance too much to give up my day job. Comedy's always been more of a lucrative hobby.
Gavin: How was it for you breaking into the local lineups and getting gigs?
Greg: It all went fairly quick and easy, but I was always looking for new and non-traditional stages. When I started standup, I was a middle school math teacher. In 2004, for my 32nd birthday, I invited all my friends and co-workers to the little theater at Dixon Middle School where I pulled off my first 50-minute set. That helped me get a headlining set performing for an eight-person audience at a fledgling club at the Murray Theater. Later that summer, I applied to do some standup at the Utah State Fair which ended up landing me an opening gig for Weird Al Yankovich.
Gavin: When you first started out, what were some of the lessons you learned about performing?
Greg: If you're having a bad set, taking a dump on the audience never helps. If the audience doesn't seem to be engaged in the performance, still give them a great show, up your energy, and keep your confidence. Write and perform as much as you possibly can.
Gavin: What's it like for you personally coming up with material and deciding what works and what doesn't?
Greg: Over the years, I've developed a pretty good sense of what will work onstage and what won't. My wife is a great sounding board, too. I run most of my material past her. My writing process is pretty boring. I force myself to write and tweet three jokes a day. I read a lot of accounting websites to find joke premises. You'd be surprised at how something as eye-gougingly boring as accounting can have lots of comedy just waiting to be mined.
Gavin: How is it for you interacting with other local comedians, both as friends and competitors?
Greg: It's great! I don't like to view comedy as a competition. For me, it's about respect. I'm not trying to "beat" anybody at comedy. I'm trying to gain their respect.
Gavin: Something that's set you a part from many local comedians is that your act is totally clean. Do you find it easier or harder for you to come up with material keeping it clean?
Greg: It's totally fucking harder. Some days, I'm like, "Whose dick do I have to suck to get you assholes to laugh at clean comedy?!" I started super clean. It's only been in the past three years that I've let the horses loose. Comedy is a lot more cathartic for me when I let myself swear onstage. I've never done very much sexual material, so I'm still clean like that, and it's not too hard to lose the language for gigs where I need to stay clean.
Gavin: The advantage you gain in your set is that you can play to any audience, no matter who you're paired with. How have you been received by audiences who usually expect a raunchier set?
Greg: I think those gay cunt-fuckers that want a raunchier set can kiss my shit hole.
Gavin: What's your take on the standup scene in Utah, both good and bad?
Greg: The Utah scene is fantastic! If you're looking for stage time, you can find it pretty much every night of the week. And the venues here are so encouraging, it's weird. Open mics are supposed to be places where people are barely paying attention while they silently judge you. I feel like the open mic audiences in Utah are the most intelligent and most engaged audiences around. Not sure how we got so lucky. I also think Keith Stubbs at Wiseguys does an incredible service for the local scene. He's always been super generous by giving me gigs locally, and he's even landed me some work out of state.
Gavin: Aside yourself, who are some of your favorites you like to check out around town?
Greg: Of the local comics, I think Christian Peiper and Jackson Banks are two of the best. Andy Gold is a whole new comic since his stint in New York. He was great before he went, but he really honed his craft and polished his stage presence out there. Jay Whittaker's fantastic, too. The crazy thing is that there's so much great talent out here. I was at an open mic at Wiseguys a while ago, and I was blown away by how many of the new comic were crushing it.
Gavin: What are your thoughts on the clubs that provide comedians a forum to perform, and the work they do to help bring in audiences?
Greg: I think they provide a forum in which comedians can perform, and they help by working to bring in audiences.
Gavin: Whats your opinion of national stand-up comedians coming through town and what that does for the local scene?
Greg: It's nice to see huge headliners come through Wiseguys. They make those rooms legit, and it's great to network with them. It's cool to see the comics who bring their shows to the big theaters like Abravanel Hall, Kingsbury Hall and EnergySolutions Arena, but I don't think they leave a lasting impact on the local scene.
Gavin: What advice do you have for people looking to getting into standup comedy?
Greg: Find the open mics. Go to as many as possible. Hang out before and after. Don't be an asshole.
Gavin: What can we expect from you over the rest of the year?
Greg: I'm working on putting together a monthly video series called "Greg Talks to People About Accounting" for the website GoingConcern.com. (It was originally called "Greg Talks to Stupid People About Accounting" but the people weren't stupid enough to support the title.) I'm also developing comedy continuing education for CPAs. That should launch in May, meaning it will probably launch in September.
Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?
Greg: I write a monthly blog post for Thriveal.com, a monthly blog post and a monthly video for GoingConcern.com, and a monthly podcast called the ThriveCast which is available on iTunes. Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook is a good way to know when and where I'm performing. My dead grandma's book, Plants from Test Tubes is still available on Amazon for $25.79.
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