the city's open mic community will show you a ton of rising talent coming up through the ranks—some of them unproven, many of them unsure, but all giving an honest attempt at doing stand-up and having fun doing it. Today we're chatting with one of those newer faces, Sam D'Antuono, about his time in the local comedy circuit so far and his impressions of the scene as a whole. (All photos provided courtesy of Sam D'Antuono.
Sam D'Antuono on Twitter
Hey Sam, first off, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Excellent question, Gavin. I would start off by saying I’m not funny, at all. It amazes me that you asked me to do this interview at all. I am flattered, but if people seeing this come see me, expecting me to be funny, you will be disappointed. I get really sweaty super-easily, I like to exercise in theory, and my Tinder profile is typical of every person who lives in Orem.
When did you first take an interest in comedy, and who did you like watching growing up?
I never even considered doing stand-up or had it cross my mind until I started college almost a year ago. I went to an open mic at [UVU], and I had a friend go up and do some stand-up and I thought, arrogantly, that I was way more funny than him. So, I wrote some jokes and gave it a try, and haven’t stopped since. I really liked watching Dan Cummins as a kid. John Mulaney was another big one, and most notably Marc Maron. Maron was a big influence.
What made you decide to take a chance and try stand-up comedy yourself?
I had always liked writing. I started writing when I was in ninth grade and I write something every single day. At first, it was poetry [and] short stories, and I did improvised comedy in high school for about a day and a half. After I saw my friend do some stand-up, I really wanted to explore that area of writing. So I did.
How was it for you breaking into the local lineups and getting gigs?
I’m still breaking in. I’m 19 years old right now; I may be older when people see this. Who knows/ Being 19, it obviously rules out doing bar shows, over-age venues, and Wiseguys. I went to one of the Wiseguys open mics when the SLC location had just opened up, and I arrived just too late to sign up, but I stayed to watch the show. It was awesome. I was so angry and sad I didn’t get the chance to perform so I went back the next week and by then, Wiseguys had gotten their liquor license and became a 21-and-over venue
. So now instead of counting the days until I can drink, I’m counting the days until I can tell jokes at Wiseguys, God I’m so lame haha. Being so young, you really have to create opportunities for yourself. So I made my own show/open mic that I host every other Friday at Ditta Caffè in Millcreek. It’s a lot of fun and I would definitely encourage people to come and see it.
What were some of the lessons you learned about performing early on?
Be funny, and no one cares what you’re doing. I mean come on, I was 18 when I started and who wants to hear an 18-year-old kid tell awful jokes about high school? And hear my voice still crack a little. Who am I kidding, it still cracks.
Another lesson I learned early on was, even if you’re an excellent writer (which I thought I was), if you have zero experience performing, it doesn’t matter how good of a writer you are. That’s why I try to get on stage and do new jokes almost every night. I think most of all I’ve learned self-awareness. Which sucks. I thought I was awesome before I started stand-up. That’s not to say that stand-up is all soul-crushing experiences, seeking some sense of validation, and failing so much you want to kill yourself. I mean, at least a little
bit that is part of it but, to me, it’s a great way to figure out who you are and what people see you as. It’s endlessly interesting
What's your process like in coming up with material and figuring out your set?
A process? I don’t really have one, yet. I just know how I write jokes is, I live my life and I try to make it as funny as possible, because I’d much rather do that than just let my boring life be boring.
How has it been for you getting to know other comedians and working in the local scene?
So fun. I really don’t do it a lot, but hanging out with comedians is always a great time. Breaking into the actual scene and trying to get as good as some comics I’ve met is hard and fun but, that’s different than getting to know the people. That part is just dandy.
What's your time been like playing open mics and indie shows so far?
At first, nerve-wracking. Dealing with stage fright, hecklers that I didn’t know how to handle, and the constant judgment and indifference was horrifying. Then I started to learn that open mics are fun and it’s just a place where a bunch of funny people can hangout and test out new material.
Aside from yourself, who are some of your favorites you like to check out around town?
I have a lot of favorites, some of them are Greg Kyte, Amerah Ames, Jackson Banks, Aaron Johnson, Abi Harrison, Mac Arthur, Joe Everard, Eileen Dobbins, Natashia Mower, and Nicholas Don Smith.
What's your opinion of national stand-up comedians coming through town and what that does for the local scene?
I would assume that they’re pretty good from their Netflix specials.
What advice do you have for people looking to getting into stand-up comedy?
If you want to do it, like, really
do it. Don’t half-ass it. Give it your all, otherwise, it’s not worth it.
What can we expect from you over the rest of the year?
You’ll definitely see me at more shows around SLC! You can always see me every other Friday when I host my show/open mic at Ditta Caffe at 1560 E 3300 S in Millcreek!
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