CB: How long have you been writing and performing comedy?
WT: I moved to New York City in August 2012 as a very naïve 22-year-old. My first job in was a page for the Late Show with David Letterman. Another page, Zack Bornstein, came up to me one day and asked me to say a certain line, i did, and he was like “okayyyyyy” and walked away. Little did I know this was my audition for what would be my first sketch group Garlic Jackson. Out first show was in May 2013 and I’ve been writing and performing ever since.
CB: How would you describe your comedy?
WT: I tend to write more character based sketches. Sometimes they’re developed from people I see. One time I was on a plane and the flight attendant was asking people in the exit row for a “verbal yes” that they understood the rules of the exit row. She’s going down the line and one guys says “si” as a joke, but the flight attendant was having none of that, and with a cold stare said “get up” and moved him to a back row, so OF COURSE I had to write a flight attendant character. This is also probably why I prefer to do more sketch based comedy than stand-up, because I find that whenever I start to write anything that could be a stand-up routine, it’s starts turning into a character, which I turn into a sketch.
CB: Which comedians influence your comedy?
WT: I remember seeing Maria Bamford’s first Comedy Central special when I was in 8th grade and being so drawn to it. She’s an absolute genius! She’s very much an inspiration to my comedy because she does so much character work within her stand up. Of course many SNL alums too: Kristen Wiig, Will Ferrell, Bill Hader, Jimmy Fallon. Currently Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant and Kyle Mooney are killing it! There’s many others, but these are the freshest in my mind right now.
CB: Did you always want to go into comedy?
WT: In third grade I told a joke to a bunch of classmates. I don’t remember what the joke was, but I do remember kids laughing, except for one kid, Raymond Wilson, who came up to me with his smug blonde head and said: “Will, you’re not funny”. I was deeply offended. I was a very sensitive third grader. Ever since then it’s been in the back of my mind. I want to prove Raymond Wilson wrong. He probably doesn’t even remember me anymore, but I remember his dumb blonde face!
CB: How do you go about writing your material?
WT: Sometimes it’ll start with a sentence I overhear someone say as I pass them on the street. Maybe even a weird voice. I have a list of notes in my phone of weird observations that start as the basis for a central game, or a line of a character. Then I figure it out from there. I also love riffing off of others and coming up with something collaboratively.
CB: Do you write and perform comedy full time or is it more of a part-time hobby? If so, do you find that your main job influences your material?
WT: I would say it’s in between. I certainly wouldn’t call it a hobby, but I’m not full-time yet. I work freelance in television, right now as an Associate Producer for MTV’s Teen Mom, but I’ve had a lot of gig’s in the past that certainly have been inspiring to my material.
CB: What do you find the most enjoyable and frustrating parts of the comedy circuit?
WT: Finding people that are as into comedy as much as you are and who are really talented is the absolute best. Collaborating with other talented people is such a rewarding experience. One of the most frustrating things is doing shows with no one in the audience. We did a show once where the only ones in the audience were the other people we were performing with. It was very awkward.
CB: What’s your favourite type of audience to perform to?
WT: As much as love forcing my friends to come to every single one of my shows against their will, my favorite audience is a room full of strangers. If I can win them over, I’m good.
CB: Have you been heckled a lot since you’ve started performing comedy? Do you enjoy being heckled? What’s the best heckle you’ve had?
WT: So far I haven’t really been heckled, but there was one situation where my sketch group was performing and some very drunk friends of our group were in the front row, constantly yelling out “yeaaaah” and “woooooo”. It certainly pulls you out of the moment, but you know they mean no harm, and what’re gonna do… they’re friends.
CB: What advice would you give to new acts thinking of starting out in comedy?
WT: Just make! Make! Do it now! Write it down, get it out. The worst outcome is having a handful of gems in a pile of garbage. But you have to make the pile first.