Friday, August 1, 2014

Jackson Banks

Posted By on August 1, 2014, 4:46 PM

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One of the more comically inspirational shows we've had this year was the It's Always Funny In SLC showcase that happened at Keys On Main this past May. The show featured about a dozen talented standup comedians in an environment that many aren't use to seeing comedy in and they weren't used to playing, on a night when neither are usually open or performing. The evening absolutely killed and introduced many curious souls to the treasure-trove of comedy we have in Utah. One of the people attached to that bill was Jackson Banks, who chatted with us this week about his career and thoughts on local standup. (All pictures courtesy of Banks.)

Jackson Banks
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Jackson Banks on Twitter

Gavin: Hey Jackson, first off, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Jackson: I am an machine. Trapped in a wild animals body. I do stand up and I am also a filmmaker. I have seven brothers and sisters. I am the youngest but also the alpha.

Gavin: What first got you interested in standup comedy, and who were some of your favorite comedians growing up?

Jackson: It was always something I wanted to try. Will Ferrell was the first comedian I was really into. As far as stand up, Mitch Hedberg was the first comic whose album I sat down and listened to. I imprinted on these men during puberty and became a new beast.

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Gavin: What officially brought on the decision for you to attempt it as a career?

Jackson: It sort of sucked me in. Its addictive and other comics here and abroad seemed to like the way I slaps that bass. It seemed like a great compliment to film and a good way to showcase myself as a writer and performer. Its like giving an audience a raw can of Jacky. They get sick at first, but then they grow stronger.

Gavin: How was it for you breaking into the local lineups and getting gigs?

Jackson: I actually scored a couple paying gigs from the U early on. The shows turned out bad (Maz Jobrani fans want Maz Jobrani and Battle of the Bands doesn't want comedians at half time), but I learned a lot. So basically I got paid $200 to learn important life lessons. Adversity came for me and I tamed it. Adversity works for me now. That vicious hell hound sniffs out my enemies and consumes them in my name.

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Gavin: When you first started out, what were some of the lessons you learned about performing?

Jackson: You never stop learning lessons. Early on I learned that not all jokes work and he crowd is a pack of wild animals. You must break them. Master them. In other words, be confident and be yourself!

Gavin: What's it like for you personally coming up with material and deciding what works and doesn't?

Jackson: Every joke needs a test. As far as writing, I like the joke to either say something or be true to my style of comedy. Hopefully both. If I feel like someone else could tell or write a joke, I throw it out. Above all it needs to be fun to tell.

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Gavin: How is it for you interacting with other local comedians, both as friends and competitors?

Jackson: I like interacting with comedians. My balls have been busted many times and calcified into an indestructible substance. I try to carve out my own market so I don't feel like I am competing with anyone, just doing my own thing. When I have felt competitive with someone it has pushed the quality of my writing. If I ever meet a man who is too similar to me I'll drink his blood and bed his wife, removing him as an obstacle and absorbing the best parts of him.

Gavin: You're also a musician and a singer, how is it balancing the two different acts and do either profession help the other out?

Jackson: HAHAHA! That’s actually a joke on Facebook. I haven't been in a band in a long time and I don't really play an instrument. I do like to do the rock star thing though. I dress snazzy and hit on everything that moves. Like a man does. However, that question of balancing is very relevant to my relationship with film and stand up. I made films for 7 years before I tried stand up. Then stand up became the priority but they are both important and I want to balance them. Stand up makes you feel powerful as a bear but makes you a sort of man apart. There is a certain isolation from the audience and people at times. Film gives you a bit more time to quietly reflect and see people as characters rather than audience members. However, when I'm in the zone for one, its hard to get into the other. Improv comedy is a good mediator between the two. I've been trying to balance them more harmoniously. I'm building a machine that will help me do just that.

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Gavin: How has it been for you making a name for yourself over the past year, both though the underground circuit and on bigger stages in Utah?

Jackson: Its been great. I wish more people would take that route. A lot of comics just choose one scene or the other, but I say if there's a stage you should get on it. There are two different crowds there that you need to be exposed to. Let our two scenes become one and let the bloodshed stop. I hereby order a cease fire.

Gavin: What's your take on the stand-up scene and the work coming out of it?

Jackson: Standup is great. As I said before its a great way to showcase oneself and people go on to do many things after a good stand up career. I aim to run for public office.

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Gavin: Aside yourself, who are some of your favorites you like to check out around town?

Jackson: Abi Harrison is like the female version of me. Christian Pieper is my comedy dad. Andy Gold and Marty Archibald are my cruel comedy brothers who enjoy torturing me (Andy Gold is in Reggie Watts' "are you fucking" video and you should all check it out. Mike Grover tells great jokes about growing up Mormon and is my comedy conscience/supportive mother. Wallace Fetzer is young and hilarious. He's my brave boy. Jonathan Falconer has a great body.

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?

Jackson: The club here is great. I've been around the block and I honestly think Wiseguys open mic on Wednesdays is one of the best open mics in the country. There is usually a big, hot crowd there.

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Gavin: Whats your opinion of national stand-up comedians coming through town and what that does for the local scene?

Jackson: National tour-ers coming through is great. Aspiring comics get to see professionals live and even hang out wit em. I've mingled with some powerful men in my day.

Gavin: What advice do you have for people looking to getting into standup comedy?

Jackson: The Bard once said "above all else, to thine own self be true." Tell jokes that you think are funny. Jokes won't always work, but maybe those jokes were meant for a different medium. Write for yourself and hope the crowd gets it. There is no better feeling than a joke you love coursing through the innocent and making them laugh. Mondays at 7:30 p.m., I run a mic at the University of Utah. Tuesdays at 7:30 is Comedy Road Kill at Moe's American Diner right next door to Nightmare on 13th. That's a great mic. And Wiseguys on Wednesdays is at 7:30 in West Valley.

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Gavin: What can we expect from you over the rest of the year?

Jackson: I am planning on moving to LA to pursue comedy and film there. I'll get tan and ripped and at long last I will be a beautiful man. I'm also going to be showcases on Steve Hofstetter's new show Laughs on Fox. Its in limited syndication right now (about 30% of the country). If it gets picked up for a year it will go National.

Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?

Jackson: I'm planning on doing the Salt Lake Comedy Carnivale this September, as well as the Derby City Comedy Festival in Louisville. And tune into my radio show, Camp Jacky with Jackson Banks Tuesdays at 5 p.m. on K-UTE internet radio.
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