Comedian Liam McEneaney on How a Joke Is “Borned”


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IFC recently launched Comedy Drop, a web series where comedians perform in unexpected places for unaware–and usually baffled–audiences. To get an insight into the mind of a comic, we asked each performer a series of 7 questions. First up: Liam McEneaney, a hilarious stand up who recently released his debut comedy album Liam McEneaney: Comedian.

Aside from Comedy Drop, where was the strangest—or most interesting—place you’ve done stand up?
Marco Francesco’s Backhanded Carnival. Lulu the Dog-Faced Girl was the MC, and I performed while a team of go-go dancers reinterpreted the hora behind me, wearing body stockings and OJ masks. We drank so much we thought we’d die that night, but instead we ended up in a New Jersey cornfield the next morning, blinking and wondering whose Maserati was parked head-first in the ditch. Creamed corn never tasted so sweet.

Where was the first place you ever performed?
The question I’d like an answer to is, where is the last place I will ever perform?

Performing in front of crowds—especially ones not expecting comedy—has to be tough. Do you have any rituals to shake pre-show jitters?
I sit and I pray for a bomb threat to clear the room and end the show in a way that will still allow me to get paid. When that doesn’t work, I call a local Catholic orphanage and ask them to inform the children that there is no God. It’s pretty much the same ritual I follow before dates and and IFC.com interviews.

How do you approach joke writing? Do you hunker down and write, or does inspiration need to find you first?
In exactly the same way I approach getting answers to interviews with IFC.com; I put a set amount of cash in a paper bag and leave it under a certain tree on the first night the moon is gibbous waning. The next morning, the bag is filled with jokes stolen from Louis CK’s notebook.

Is a joke ever fully “ready,” or is it always “in progress”?
It makes me “laugh” to hear civilians talk comedy. The technical term we use are “fertile,” “pregnant,” and “borned.” Once a joke is borned, you send it out into the world and never look for it again. Just like in Eskimo culture.

Also, I put the word “laugh” in quotation marks, because the official comedian term is, “explode with rage.”

What is the best piece of stand up advice you’ve ever heard?

I was in the crawlspace above the office of the owner of a certain comedy club in New York City, and I remember he was talking to a comedian whom he liked enough to actually talk to. At the time, I was in the crawlspace because I wanted to break into show business, and was very into doing things in the most literal way possible.

I didn’t catch what the owner said, but his tone of voice was so soothing that I fell asleep and dreamed that it was, “Whenever you’re conducting an interview about comedy, be as serious and truthful as possible.” Which is advice I’ve carried with me to this day, in this paper bag otherwise filled with jokes stolen from Louis CK’s notebook.

What’s a joke that makes you laugh, or smile, every time?
The entirety of my album, Liam McEneaney: Comedian, which is out on October 1st, 2013 on ASpecialThing Records.

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Holiday Extra Special

Make The Holidays ’80s Again

Enjoy the holiday cheer Wednesday December 21 at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Whatever happened to the kind of crazy-yet-cozy holiday specials that blanketed the early winter airwaves of the 1980s? Unceremoniously killed by infectious ’90s jadedness? Slow fade out at the hands of early-onset millennial ennui? Whatever the reason, nixing the tradition was a huge mistake.

A huge mistake that we’re about to fix.

Announcing IFC’s Joe’s Pub Presents: A Holiday Special, starring Tony Hale. It’s a celeb-studded extravaganza in the glorious tradition of yesteryear featuring Bridget Everett, Jo Firestone, Nick Thune, Jen Kirkman, house band The Dap-Kings, and many more. And it’s at Joe’s Pub, everyone’s favorite home away from home in the Big Apple.

The yuletide cheer explodes Wednesday December 21 at 10P. But if you were born after 1989 and have no idea what void this spectacular special is going to fill, sample from this vintage selection of holiday hits:

Andy Williams and The NBC Kids Search For Santa

The quintessential holiday special. Get snuggly and turn off your brain. You won’t need it.

A Muppet Family Christmas

The Fraggles. The Muppets. The Sesame Street gang. Fate. The Jim Henson multiverse merges in this warm and fuzzy Holiday gathering.

Julie Andrews: The Sound Of Christmas

To this day a foolproof antidote to holiday cynicism. It’s cheesy, but a good cheese. In this case an Alpine Gruyère.

Star Wars Holiday Special

Okay, busted. This one was released in 1978. Still totally ’80s though. And yes that’s Bea Arthur.

Pee Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special

Pass the eggnog, and make sure it’s loaded. This special is everything you’d expect it to be and much, much more.

Joe’s Pub Presents: A Holiday Special premieres Wednesday December 21 at 10P on IFC.

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It Ain't Over Yet

A Guide to Coping with the End of Comedy Bang! Bang!

Watch the final episodes tonight at 11 and 11:30P on IFC.

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After five seasons and 110 halved-hour episodes, Scott Aukerman’s hipster comedy opus, Comedy Bang! Bang!, has come to an end. Fridays at 11 and 11:30P will never be the same. We know it can be hard for fans to adjust after the series finale of their favorite TV show. That’s why we’ve prepared this step-by-step guide to managing your grief.

Step One: Cry it out

It’s just natural. We’re sad too.
Scott crying GIF

Step Two: Read the CB!B! IMDB Trivia Page

The show is over and it feels like you’ve lost a friend. But how well did you really know this friend? Head over to Comedy Bang! Bang!’s IMDB page to find out some things you may not have known…like that it’s “based on a Civil War battle of the same name” or that “Reggie Watts was actually born with the name Theodore Leopold The Third.”

Step Three: Listen to the podcast

One fascinating piece of CB!B! trivia that you might not learn from IMDB is that there’s a podcast that shares the same name as the TV show. It’s even hosted by Scott Aukerman! It’s not exactly like watching the TV show on a Friday night, but that’s only because each episode is released Monday morning. If you close your eyes, the podcast is just like watching the show with your eyes closed!

Step Four: Watch brand new CB!B! clips?!

The best way to cope with the end of Comedy Bang! Bang! is to completely ignore that it’s over — because it’s not. In an unprecedented move, IFC is opening up the bonus CB!B! content vault. There are four brand new, never-before-seen sketches featuring Scott Aukerman, Kid Cudi, and “Weird Al” Yankovic ready for you to view on the IFC App. There’s also one right here, below this paragraph! Watch all four b-b-bonus clips and feel better.

Binge the entire final season, plus exclusive sketches, right now on the IFC app.

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Everybody Sweats Now

The Four-Day Sweatsgiving Weekend On IFC

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This long holiday weekend is your time to gobble gobble gobble and give heartfelt thanks—thanks for the comfort and forgiveness of sweatpants. Because when it comes right down to it, there’s nothing more wholesome and American than stuffing yourself stupid and spending endless hours in front of the TV in your softest of softests.

So get the sweats, grab the remote and join IFC for four perfect days of entertainment.

It all starts with a 24-hour T-day marathon of Rocky Horror Picture Show, then continues Friday with an all-day binge of Stan Against Evil.

By Saturday, the couch will have molded to your shape. Which is good, because you’ll be nestled in for back-to-back Die Hard and Lethal Weapon.

Finally, come Sunday it’s time to put the sweat back in your sweatpants with The Shining, The Exorcist, The Chronicles of Riddick, Terminator 2, and Blade: Trinity. They totally count as cardio.

As if you need more convincing, here’s Martha Wash and the IFC&C Music Factory to hammer the point home.

The Sweatsgiving Weekend starts Thursday on IFC

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