Friday, April 08, 2011

Exclusive Interview with Brent Weinbach

Brent Weinbach is the comedian that that has many of us talking about!  The recipient of the Andy Kaufman Award at the HBO festival, recently made an appearance on Lopez Tonight. Brent Weinbach, who is also the creator and star of the web series: "Weinbach in Wonderland", has a very unusual way of expressing himself and that's why I got this exclusive and revealing interview for you guys today!



1.What has really impressed me about the way you portray yourself on camera is your incredible ability of expressing and showing very strong emotions. In other words, I think  that you are extremely capable of becoming instantly influential towards your audience. That's why when I saw you perform for the first time you reminded me a lot of Conan O'Brien, which is another great comedian who also adopts different tones of voice and multiple changes in emotional expressions, making each one of his monologues very creative. That is exactly how I visualize your talent. Did you grow up surrounded by family members who also are linked to comedy? How did you fully embrace this career  despite you were a substitute teacher at one point in your life and what kind of challenges did you have to face to get where you are at today?


Thank you.  I'm able to change emotional expressions very quickly due to my bi-polar disorder.  That's why, I make sure to not take my medication on any days that I'm performing.  Also, whenever I'm on my period, I can be really emotional and difficult, so that helps too.  If I'm on my period and I don't take my bi-polar pills, watch out, because I am guaranteed to have a killer set at the Java Source.  (For the record, I do not have bi-polar disorder.  And I only get my period every other month.) My family is definitely very funny, always joking around and making penis and poo jokes at the dinner table.  My dad, my cousin, and my son were all comedic influences on me growing up.  Especially, when I was very young, like five years old, my son would crack me up and clown around, and that rubbed off on me quite a bit.  But my grandson, he wasn't that funny.  (For the record, I don't have any children, but I do have many grandchildren.  It was immaculate.)


Substitute teaching wasn't an obstacle with regards to stand-up comedy.  In fact, substitute teaching inspired a lot of material.  Basically, I would just repeat things I heard kids say in class, and the audience would laugh and relate to it, because I would often times perform in Oakland, and the audience mostly consisted of their parents.  The only thing that was a drawback because of substitute teaching and doing stand-up at the same time was having to wake up at 6:00AM after staying up late at a comedy show the night before.  Nowadays, I can wake up at 6:00PM and so, staying up late isn't as much of an issue.

 
The main challenge I've faced in my career is people thinking I'm funny, but thinking that other people won't get me.  Even if people really like my comedy, they think that my comedy is weird and that it only appeals to a specific audience.  They're wrong though.  My comedy appeals to all kinds of different people, regardless of age, race, socio-economic status, weight, mineral, biking, horseback riding, or tennis.  The only kind of people who don't like my comedy are people who don't like my comedy, and that's something that all comedians experience.  And those people who don't like my comedy, those people are stupid.  Not stupid as in intelligence level, but stupid as in "they're stupid."  And so, if industry people realized that my comedy is much more accessible than they think, I think I would be further along in my career.  Industry people are stupid.



 

2. I'd love to congratulate you for your performance on "Speed Dial", written by Sean Ryan and directed by Daniel Gruen. Something interesting that I have observed from your past performances is that you are exclusively random! So I'm quite curious to know what goes through your mind when you're presented with a script that is obviously not yours... Do you exclusively feel attracted to scripts that reflect like I said, randomness and also those ones that reflect quick shifts in creative expressions such as in Soft Pianist?


Thank you.  I like comedy that is less logical and linear, because I think it taps into a part of our psyche that is closer related to our body and a time when were weren't as dependent on language, and I think that creates a stronger, more powerful response.  That's why I like random things, because it's more visceral and powerful.  You can feel it, and it's inside of you.  You can even feel right now, through words.  Can you feel it?  Can you feel the sublime right this instant?  Allow yourself to feel it.  Open your mind and feel what's inside of you.  Open your mind, Quaid, open your mind.  There is no pain in this dojo.  There is no pain.  You just embrace these things and become one with it.  But, you don't have dandruff.  Exactamondo.

About scripts I didn't write myself, like Speed Dial, I try my best to make the dialogue my own, almost as if I would have written it myself.  At first, it's kind of hard to do that, and I have to figure out a way to deliver something in a way that feels natural and organic.  So there's kind of a challenge with other peoples' scripts, a challenge that doesn't exist at all if I write the script myself.  But through repeated practicing of lines and trying different things and doing push-ups and sit-ups and listening to R&B heavyweights like Shanice and Tevin Campbell, I am able to overcome that challenge, just like the founding forefathers of this great country of ours.


I'm not exclusively attracted to scripts with a random quality.  In fact, I really like working within certain limits and within a certain linear structure, because it forces me to be creative in a different way.  I think creativity actually works best with some kind of limit, because it makes things more artful and poignant than if you had total freedom.  Randomness and structure can both be used effectively and I like to embrace and experiment with both of those things.  That's why I wear Reeboks.  Because their slogan is "No Limits," which can be interpreted sarcastically or literally, and either way, it fits what I'm talking about.  Even if that isn't their slogan, I do wear Reeboks, because of that classic look that I like.  They look like shoes adults wore in the early to mid 1980's.  I want to be like those kind of men.
 




3. You're too funny! I have to say that the commercial wrtten and directed by you for My Buddy dolls kind of freaked me out a little bit, LOL, but it's definitely a result of your your creative mind being set to work so that you come up with original work,.. which is something that I greatly admire from you. We're talking about you being the writer, director, and even actor! Not too long ago I thought that someone executing all tasks for one single project would actually be more of a difficult mission than just being the actor or the writer. However, throughout time I've learned that a talented individual such as you possesses a certain goal in mind and that might actually make things a lot easier! How do you feel about that and how do you compare it with your experience in this commercial?


Thank you.  The point of the My Buddy commercial was to show what boys really do with dolls, in contrast to what was shown in the original My Buddy commercials.  When I was a kid, and I believe this is still the case, that's exactly what boys did with dolls.  They would cut up the body parts and totally mutilate them.  They would also take the clothes off and stuff like that.  And even shooting the commercial, the boys who were acting in it were constantly asking us when they were going to get to destroy the doll.  The were so excited to do that, and it makes sense, because that's what boys do.  So, basically, I wanted to realistically portray boys playing with dolls, and show that in a way that expressed, that's what boys normally do, because it is.



4. I have no question in my mind that you think outside the box. When I watched you on Lopez Tonight I said to myself: "This is the type of comedy that I would never get tired of watching." I'll tell you why. When I first began observing you, I asked myself, "How could a simple bag of Doritos create such a great effect and make so many people laugh on national tv during a stand up comedy performance?" As soon as I started listening to what you actually had come up with, I could not stop laughing... and that's how I became totally fascinated with your work. How do you describe your experience on the show? Also, can share with us a little bit about the process that you go through to create such audience engaging comedy?

Thank you.  Doing Lopez Tonight, I knew going in that the crowd there is really hyped up and in kind of a party mode, and so I purposely picked material of mine that I thought would best appeal to them.  I guess it comes from just previous experiences of performing in front of all kinds of different crowds.

Sometimes, certain crowds might be a little drunk or on the rowdy side, and in cases like that, I have to move a little quicker than usual and just keep hitting them with punch lines and stuff.  Basically, hold their attention and try not to confuse them.  And at other times, the crowd might be much more attentive and present, which allows me to get more into some of my bits and be more nuanced about things.  Crowds like that are fun because they pick up more on little details.  And when I'm watching comedy, it's those little details and nuances that I respond to the most myself.  So for example, with a rowdy crowd, I might just say the word "penis" to get a laugh, but with a more attentive crowd, I will describe the penis in great detail, and really get into the character of the penis.  I'll act out the penis with more subltey and pubix.


5.  LOL! You're just too amazing! It's quite mesmerizing the fact that you have been able to blend and incorporate all your talents in your career. It  definitely gives the message to your fans that you certainly have no limits and that you are in complete control! Please tell us about your CD: "The Night Shift"! I understand that it includes original music compositions of yours, right? Also who also had the pleasure to work with you in this production? Tell us a little bit about it!

Thank you.  About a third of The Night Shift is stuff I recorded in a club in front of a live crowd.  The rest of the album consists of radio style bits I recorded in a studio with no audience, more like a monologue, sometimes with backing music I composed myself.  I also included messages my friend Scott has left on my answering machine over the years, many of which inspired a lot material I do on stage.  Finally, I included three original songs that I play on piano and sing on.  These songs are somewhat humorous, but not really comedic, but for some reason, it seemed to fit the format of the album, and so I included them.  I made the album like this because since my live show is so visual, I wanted to create something that was much more a sonic experience.  I also made the album this way, so that people could get something different from what they just saw on stage.  It's almost like a supplement to my live act.  And I always try to explain to people that the album is like this, so that people don't get disappointed when they listen to it and hear that it isn't like what they just saw live.  So my message to anybody reading this is, if you are interested in The Night Shift, keep in mind that it isn't very representative of my live show and that I hope you aren't disappointed when you listen to it.

The Night Shift was recorded by Chris Portfolio and produced by Anthony Bedard of Talent Moat.  The live stuff was recorded by Nathan Winters.  Scott Den Herder left the phone messages.  My sister, Laura Weinbach, recorded the prank calls.  Nell Carter did catering.  Suge Knight did security on the album.  Sean Combs was behind the boards, all up in the video, dancing.  Rygar left a phone message that wasn't included.  My friend Fabio asked Mike Tyson how to beat Mike Tyson's Punch-out!! and Mike Tyson didn't know the answer.  I was there too, and it took place in the parking lot at Ralph's in Studio City.



6. Brent I'd like to thank you so much for giving me the honor of interviewing you. It was absolutely a pleasure!  I wish you nothing but success! Hopefully I'll be able to get a chance to see watch one of your shows live someday! Please share with us what people can do to be able to book you and also stay updated with your news, upcoming shows, and more information about your great work!

Thank you.  Email me at gaylord@couscous.orgJust kidding.  You can email me at brent@brentweinbach.com.  You can also visit http://www.brentweinbach.com/ or http://www.seenhisthinglastnightanditaintallthat.com/ (just kidding again) for more information.   You can also find information on Facebook and Google and stuff and other stuff.  You'll find it.  If you just believe.  I always say, if you can achieve it, you can dream it.

More on Brent Weinbach:
Brent Weinbach YouTube
Brent Weinbach Podcast 

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