A sit down interview with a young comic about the challenges of being a young comic
Everyone loves a good comedy show. We love to watch on TV or even go see live comedians perform their best jokes and routines to make us laugh until it hurts. Comedy specials go back ages with legendary performers like Richard Pryor, George Carlin, and Eddie Murphy.
Dave Chappelle and Kevin Hart have taken comedy to new heights with their respective tours. We all wait and see who is gonna have the next big standup that people everywhere will talk about.
What about the underground scene? The local clubs and bars that host comedians just trying to make a name for themselves or just do it for fun. How do these comics try to separate themselves and grow in a profession that has grown tremendously over the years?
I sat down Jerry Martinez, one of those comedians, and spoke with him about local competitions, preparing routines and dreams of the big time.
Jerry Martinez has been doing comedy around New York City for a few years. He has been making a name for himself and has taken part and won local competitions. A Staten Island native, Jerry looks to continue to spread his comedy all over the city with his unique style and charisma.
What got Jerry started in comedy? What is it like for young local comics? Well...let's ask him:
Chris: Hey Jerry, good to see you!
Jerry: Good to see you too bro!
Chris: Let's dive right into this. How did you get into doing stand-up comedy?
Jerry: At a young age, my parents noticed I was good at impersonating other people, celebrities, and what not. They always said I would be good at stand up. So when I was 19, I went online and started researching how to get into it, and how to get stage time. I took a workshop from Chris Murphy, awesome comic. I quit about a year into it. Just had trouble writing, and felt like it wasn't for me. Got back into 2 years ago, and have been going steady since.
Chris: Who are your influences?
Jerry: I love a ton of comics out there, but I'd have to say George Carlin and Bill Burr are my favorite and also my influences in my writing.
Chris: George Carlin is my favorite as well. Where does your comedy style come from?
Jerry: I have a "literal" kind of style. I like looking at everything in a literal sense. Also, I love to work the crowd and I love to roast people. Just years of abusing friends and being abused in return.
Chris: How do you prepare for your routine before a show?
Jerry: Drink! I'm a drinker. Calms my nerves. I also go through my jokes, decide what I'm going to use, and what I'm going to scrap. A lot of prep time goes to waste. Like, I can prepare all night, but then while standing in the crowd, you notice the demographic isn't into what you have prepped. All of a sudden you're trying to do some improv and crowd work to stay relevant.
Chris: What does it take to be different than other comedians in what is a competitive field?
Jerry: Just have to stand out. Every comedian is trying to be different and trying to stay ahead of the next guy. I just stay humble. If I get a spot, cool! If I don't get a spot, cool! Just take it as it comes.
Chris: What are the challenges in that though?
Jerry: In my opinion, the biggest challenge is stapling yourself into the community. "Paying your dues," so to speak. As comedians, we work really hard writing, performing, bombing sometimes and also killing sometimes. So when you get newcomers, it's kind of like "more comedians in New York to compete with?". We are a welcoming community, but it's also very shady.
Chris: You have competed in some competitions I know you have won. Can you explain what those competitions were, and what they mean for upstart comedians?
Jerry: Well, there are a lot of these "competitions" that really do nothing for comics. Sometimes you'll get a few paid spots out of it, sometimes you'll get an audition for a club, but most of the time it doesn't do much. I won the Comedy Fight Club Championship in 2018. CFC is a roast battle competition. Very competitive, and really community oriented. That was a highlight in my career. Even though to a lot of people it means nothing, it does mean something to others. My name was spread around the city pretty quickly from that. So shout out to CFC and Matt Maran for making it happen!
Chris: What are your goals in comedy?
Jerry: Well, who doesn't want a tiny bit of recognition? I know the reality of becoming big and actually making it to the top is just ridiculous! There are too many comedians out there right now. The most I can hope for is to be a "working comic." Which means I would make enough to live off of it, but not as much as these big guys are getting. If I could write for SNL, or any show that resembles that, that'd be a dream come true for me.
Chris: Well, I hope your dreams come true man, and good luck to you and your budding career. Thank you so much for sitting with me!
Jerry: Thank you, bro, this was awesome.
Chris: One last thing, where can we see Jerry Martinez perform in the future?
Jerry: Well I perform all over the place. Right now, as a Staten Island native, we have been trying to get Staten Island on the comedy map. So I perform a lot here. You can always check my Facebook for show dates.