Posted // 2013-07-03 -
I've talked about it on the blog before, but the local comedy scene is blowing up with new talent, especially on the underground circuit. Shows happening at The Complex, Club DJ's, The Tower Theatre and other venues are giving those with the chops a platform to perform and gain an audience before hitting the bigger clubs. One name on the rise receiving praise from his peers is Lamar Kellywood, with whom I chat today about his career and the comedy scene in Utah, along with a few other topics. (All pictures courtesy of Kellywood.
Gavin: Hey, Lamar. First off, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Lamar: Originally, I am from New Mexico; I came here to find a job and experience living in a city. I also have a strangely difficult time describing myself. I know it’s weird, especially when asked to be interviewed.
Gavin: What first got you interested in stand-up comedy, and who were some of your favorite comedians growing up?
Lamar: I remember watching stand-ups on late night shows and here and there, when it was on. I can’t remember why I was first interested in comedy; I think it must have been the different and alternative perspectives that interested me, how a joke can be funny but also made me think in a different way. It was also the animated and interesting performances that got my attention, Sam Kinison is what I thought stand-up was for a long time. That was until Mitch Hedberg, Marc Maron, Patton Oswalt and many others at that time got my attention in middle school.
Gavin: What officially brought on the decision for you to attempt it as a career?
Lamar: A friend and I would talk about stand-up in high school and it was something I always wanted to pursue. I was a little depressed after not getting, or even properly pursuing, a job; I was living in my dad’s basement and being a burden. I found that Salt Lake offered opportunities to perform stand-up, and decided to give it a shot. It was one of the best things that I have done in my life. I am very easy to satisfy.
Gavin: How was it for you breaking into the local lineups and getting gigs?
Lamar: It was easier than I thought it would be, actually; I was more afraid that I would not have enough experience. I came at a time when there were not as many people performing and many of the comedians had shows at many bars and cafes around town, as well as the local regular stand-up open mics. When it comes to doing stand-up in this city, it is all about showing up and if you are funny and perform regularly, someone will see your stand-up and invite you to do more shows around town and elsewhere.
Gavin: When you first started out, what were some of the lessons you learned about performing?
Lamar: The more time you spend on a stage, the better. The first couple of months onstage, I was mostly concentrating on remembering what I wanted to say. Whether the joke was even funny was something I could not judge because it took all of my energy trying to put my words in the right order. I am better at dealing with it but still get that feeling every time I am on a stage, even more so when I have jokes I have not yet performed in front of an audience. Also, telling the jokes that I really wanted to tell, a joke can be funny but if I don’t believe in it, it usually goes nowhere.
Gavin: What's it like for you personally coming up with material and deciding what works and doesn't?
Lamar: When it comes to writing material, I try to write comedy, which is the most difficult way to come up with material for me, but I have good material from unloading the stuff bouncing around in my head and allowing room for new things. The best way is in the moment having a thought and expounding on it; my favorite material has happened while at work, talking with people or walking down the street. As for how well it works, I have written some of the worst unfunny things that I thought would be great, only to be met with groans or crippling silence -- so many uncomfortable moments that needed to be had because I can’t tell what is actually funny until I take it on stage.
Gavin: How is it for you interacting with other local comedians, both as friends and competitors?
Lamar: It has been great; most people would not put up with me talking about comedy as much as I do except with other comedy people. Also, I am not from here, so the first people I met were only people who did stand-up and are still the majority of friends I have now. I get to hang out with some of the funniest people in the city and I would have it any other way. Sometimes I do feel the competitive edge, but most of the time, our comedy styles are different enough from each other and a little competition will keep you on your toes and trying new things.
Gavin: Most of your performances have been on the underground and independent circuit. What has it been like for you building a career and an act in those shows?
Lamar: It has been pretty good here. I have heard stories about how competitive and saturated other cities are when it comes to comedy and it is more difficult to get spots even in smaller open mics and other places. I like the bars, cafes and venues that put on shows as long as people come to watch comedy. All a show only really needs is a good lineup and a crowd who wants to laugh, although sometimes it is weird when you are trying your new “nacho bit” while people just want to order their coffee.
Gavin: Having a couple of years under your belt performing locally, how has it been for you watching the scene grow and adapt to the new flood of comedians taking the stage?
Lamar: It is getting better, with more places to perform and performances that are not just stand-up, but sketch comedy and interview shows, as well. A growing comedy scene will attract more people who want to do stand-up, which is good for us so we will be able to do more shows; a hilarious symbiosis.
Gavin: Going local for a bit, what's your take on the stand-up scene, both good and bad?
Lamar: Local comedy is the only comedy I am familiar with apart from the few out-of-town show,s but I would say there are consistent open mics throughout the week that will take anyone who was a few things to talk about. But, it is still a small city, and getting people to come to the shows is the only disadvantage I can think of right now. But, as long as we keep making people laugh, I am looking forward to how it will grow.
Gavin: Is there anything you think could be done to make it more prominent?
Lamar: I think it will take time. We have funny people doing different things, and it will need a decent reputation and people who know about it. We have good comedians in this city to help it out; it may not be as great as it is in bigger cities, but I really like this city, and as long as we need to do stand-up it will get better.
Gavin: Aside from yourself, who are some of your favorites you like to check out around town?
Lamar: Haha, I am one of my favorites, but this city has some of my favorite stand-ups like Dean Weber, Natashia Mower, Andy Fransworth, Steve Soelberg, Jason Harvey and Cody Eden, just to name a few; I could go on, but only listing six was funnier to me.
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?
Lamar: The clubs do help -- they provide a space where people know what to expect, at least to expect to laugh. There are only a few rooms that have specifically comedy, and the more places there are to perform, the better the comedy will become.
Gavin: What's your opinion of national stand-up comedians coming through town and what that does for the local scene?
Lamar: I think the clubs do help in that they make comedy available on a larger scale with bigger names that, hopefully, make people aware that there is comedy in the city even on a local scale, and if they have a good experience, they will be more inclined to tell others and come out to more shows.
Gavin: What can we expect from you over the rest of the year?
Lamar: You can expect to see me performing any chance I can. I have a few things planned but they will probably not happen until next year.
Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?
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