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Interview: Stand Up Comic Dan Levy
Dan Levy is quickly becoming a known face around the comedy circuit, due in no small part to his success with the website CollegeHumor, which is an online showcase for funny videos, articles, and photographs, with a heavy bent towards (you guessed it) the college demographic. Dan has been an integral part of the multifaceted expansion of the site beyond the small corner of the web they currently occupy, and into very real comedy territory. This summer alone, Dan moved to New York City to star in a Mountain Dew-backed talk show, called the I Have To Go In A Minute Show, which ran daily on the popular site. Combine that with stand up gigs all across America, often as the comedy anchor to the CollegeHumor live shows, and Dan has been quite busy.
These days, Dan is gearing up for the Friday showing of his first Comedy Central special, and will be headlining The Improv here in town in March. LAist was fortunate enough to catch up with Dan and discuss his humble beginnings, and what it might feel like to rain money on bitches.
LAist: So where are you from and what made you come to LA for comedy?
Dan Levy: I'm originally from Connecticut, and then I went to Emerson in Boston. I moved to LA because all my friends moved to LA after they graduated, so I just kind of followed the sheep. Of course there's a lot of comedy here, too, and I thought it'd be a cool place to live.
And how long have you been doing comedy?
I’ve been doing comedy for 9 years. I started at Dick Doherty’s Comedy Vault.
So what have you been up to lately?
My buddy and I did a show for CollegeHumor, the I Have To Go In A Minute Show, this summer. We’re now doing a deal with Comedy Central where we’re going to do different shorts for them in ’09, so we’re just brainstorming some ideas. They’re pretty serious ideas. One is where one guy gets drunk and one guy gets high and then we see who can do more things. We’re coming up with some PRETTY intense shit.
Sounds groundbreaking. And where can we see you next?
I've got my Comedy Central special that comes out February 6th, and we're doing those shorts. I also did this movie Mardi Gras that comes out in August. I believe it will be the first movie that I ever did that will actually come out. "
Yeah. I was in House Bunny but I got cut. But, I am in the DVD extras, which is really funny. I play ‘Snooty Man’. If you watch the deleted scenes, like the 5th deleted scene, Anna Faris is at a valet stand and she’s talking to the valet, and I drive up in a Range Rover and say ‘MOVE YOUR CRUMMY CAR, LADY’. I don’t know why the cut it, it was totally awesome.
What’s the transition that you had to go through from being a comedian in college to working on all of these different things in LA?
It’s just all working, constantly performing. And all of the festivals, like Aspen and Montreal, I was able to go to those pretty young and I think that really helped. That’s all it really is, is just performing a lot and doing really well at those festivals, because that’s where all the people are. Stand up comedy is one of the only things where no matter what, if you’re really funny, people will find out who you are. There’s no one who’s really really funny just sitting in Nebraska. They will find you.
So tell me more about the I Have To Go In A Minute Show.
Basically, I had known CollegeHumor for a while, and I host the CollegeHumor Live tour, so they called me and said the Mountain Dew people want to do a talk show, have you got any ideas? My friend Todd and I got together to brainstorm some ideas on how it could work, and we just pitched it over the phone. They told Mountain Dew, and basically two weeks later we moved to New York City for three months, to work on the show, every day.
So do you see shows in LA? What do you think of the comedy scene here?
LA comedy is great. I mean, it’s really saturated, it’s not as perfect as Boston or even New York because there’s so many people here trying to do everything, so there’s a lot of bad comedians, people just trying out comedy. It’s a tough place to start out because there’s so many people at all different levels. But I perform mostly at The Improv, the Laugh Factory, and some of the small rooms every once in a while. I’ll be at The Improv on March 19th, headlining there for the first time, so that’ll be cool.
So how easy or hard do you think it is to be a working comedian in Los Angeles?
I find it to be pretty easy because I do a lot of different things, but I do most of my comedy out of LA. I only perform in LA a few times and then I’m gone. You don’t make your living off of stand up comedy in LA, most of us make a living doing stand up around the country and then do TV and a lot other stuff in LA.
Do you think there’s a level when you can say that you’ve ‘made’ it?
Oh yeah. When you start raining on bitches financially, that’s when you’ve made it. When I turn on CNN and Larry King is interviewing me wearing a bunch of rings, that’s when I can say I’ve done something.
Well good luck. Who are some of the comedians that you are looking at these days?
I think Greg Geraldo is great. Dan Mintz is probably the best joke writer performing right now. I like Daniel Tosh, Dave Attell.
All great names. Meanwhile, you’ve had a lot of success yourself. Are you still encountering a lot of rejection?
Yeah, every day. All the time. Probably the most frustrating thing is we tried to turn the I Have To Go In A Minute Show into a TV show. We went out and tried to pitch it and everyone was all excited and then we didn’t sell it. We have 40 episodes of proven material. That stuff happens all the time. You just get really upset for a day, and then the next day you move on.
Be sure to check out Dan's special "Comedy Central Presents: Dan Levy", tomorrow (Friday 2/6) at 10p.
Comedian Dan Levy, whose Comedy Central special "Comedy Central Presents: Dan Levy" airs on Friday. Photo courtesy New Wave Entertainment.