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.