By: Joseph Santiago
Andrew Schulz regularly works on MTV without letting it take time away from the club scene. The hard-working comic brings his high-energy, hard-hitting style to as many audiences as possible, making them laugh whether they want to.
Andrew managed to find a spare few minutes to sit down and talk about stand-up, tv, and what true heckling means.
BCT: So, how long have you been doing Stand-up?
AS: Five and a half years.
BCT: And is that all in New York?
AS: I started college in California, Santa Barbara, I was managing a restaurant while I was going to school, and they just happened to have a comedy night at the restaurant. The show’s producer asked me if I wanted to try it out, and I was like yeah, I’ll check it.
BCT: And why did you decide to jump across the country to New York.
AS: Well, I loved it; I’ve always enjoyed stand-up comedy. When I grew up in the city, I would go to all the clubs, Boston, and the Cellar, all of which are still around. I’ve always loved comedy.
BCT: You grew up in New York, went to California for college and started there. Did you stay in California at all after college?
AS: No, I came back to New York a month later, so I did comedy in California for like a month, and then I came back to New York, and I just liked it. I started doing things at Comedy Village. I did the whole barking thing, asking people on the street, which was a great way to get stage time.
So I got to work with all these guys … I got to know what it was like to see someone crush. It is really good for a young comic to see what that’s like, and not only to see someone crush but to follow someone who’s just crushed and see what your laughs are compared to their laughs. Cause I was very early into comedy and on the same shows as Greer Barns, Mike Destefano, these guys who I’d see fucking demolish, and you’d know where you were.
BCT: Having those types of people to measure yourself against.
AS: Exactly. It’s different when you do great on a show somewhere with maybe a few people in the audience, or you get a lot of laughs at an open mike or something like that … there’s a difference between “killing” and “getting a lot of laughs.” Do you know? People use “killing” a lot, I notice. A lot of people say, “man, he killed.” And they don’t know what killing is.
BCT: So, what would you say is the difference?
AS: Killing is when the audience is laughing, and they don’t have a choice whether to laugh or not. The laughter shocks them. Often, people will laugh and then cover their faces because they didn’t expect it. That’s killing.
They make sounds when they laugh, “Ha!” or girls will snort because they’re so unaware of the laughter. Laughter’s organic. Laughter happens.
Laughter can be canned, you know, when you get lead down this road where you know that this is punchline because there’s a cadence that lets you know – which there’s nothing wrong with. Some of my favorite comics have a specific joke cadence. But the way those guys would crush, it was great to see that because I knew where I was and what I had to do to get there. I wanted those laughs. I always wanted real laughs, the hard laughs.
BCT: So crushing is more taking control of the audience?
AS: Not only taking control but getting them to laugh, you have to get an audience to listen to you. I know some guys who can always get an audience to listen that have that way, they’re compelling, but they might not crush.
BCT: Do you have a favourite club in New York?
AS: I love the Comedy Cellar, Eastville, Stand Up NY, and New York Comedy Club. I think these are the top clubs in the city.
BCT: You also go on the road. Do you have any big shows coming up outside New York?
AS: I will be performing at some colleges and going to Montreal Just for Laughs in September.
BCT: You’re one of the regular guys on MTV’s The Guy Code.
BCT: How did you get into that, and what’s that like?
AS: Oh, I love Guy Code. I went into MTV, and Lauren Zinns, a talent exec, brought
BCT: Did you know her already?
AS: No, I guess she just knew me through something. You know, that’s the industry’s job, if you’re in the talent possession, is to go find talent. I was fortunate enough that she saw me and liked me.
So she brought me in, and I just told her, you know, I’m the male perspective. That’s what I do. I’m a dude. I’m not … I come from a kind of a different cloth than a lot of comedians.
BCT: You have a very unapologetic style.
AS: Very unapologetic. Very blunt. I didn’t grow up picked on, shit like that. I’m just going, to be honest. We all had our hard times and struggle, but I don’t come from the angle of the victim as much cause that wasn’t my life. But I still love comedy.
Sometimes there’s this idea in comedy: you need to be molested to be funny. Do you know what I mean? You need to have all this tragic shit. Just be funny!
I have my perspective, and I wanted to be the male perspective, this masculine perspective. I told her that, and then this show came up, and she was like, oh shit, he’d be good for it.
So she recommended me to Ryan Ling. He’s the guy who created Guy Code. He auditioned me and then boom hit!
BCT: And you’ve got some other shows for which you were a writer and contributor.
AS: Well, I wrote on Guy Code, I was on another show on MTV called Hip Hop Squares, and we just shot another show called Epic Fail. That’s a really funny show. It should be coming out in the fall, maybe spring.
BCT: What is that?
AS: Epic Fail is like a panellist show where they go over those crazy fail situations you see on the internet, mostly pictures.
We’ll go over all these mug shots and say, “what do you think was the crime they committed?” and we have a couple of comedian panellists.
BCT: You find internet memes and pictures and just Mystery Science Theatre them?
Exactly. Rip em apart.
BCT: Very much like Guy Code, having a bunch of comics –
AS: More like Chelsea Lately, there are three comic panels. Think Chelsea Lately mixed with Tosh.0, but not videos. It’s a funny show.
The idea’s good cause you have funny people reacting to shit, which is what I like to do. I like to
BCT: So this has all been shot already?
AS: Yeah. I was on two episodes. So I did that, and we shot another pilot for MTV 2. I don’t know if I’m allowed to talk about that.
Just did a pilot for FX. This is my first acting thing, Bronx Warrants, with a couple of other comics, Godfrey and Bobby Kelly. I’m excited about that. I hope that goes to the season.
BCT: Is that a cop show?
AS: It is. It’s warrant cops. The guys find you when there’s a warrant for somebody’s arrest. So I have a warrant for my arrest, and they came to get me.
BCT: Is that a comedic thing?
AS: It’s funny, but it’s not goofy funny. It’s not 30 Rock funny.
BCT: More Rescue Me funny?
AS: It’s by the producers of Rescue Me. It’s in the same vein, so you have something perceived as a drama. Most of the humor is made by busting balls, which is my style. I’m not really into, you know, “I’ll pretend I’m not in reality, you pretend like you’re not in reality and let’s just see what kind of goofy hijinks we can get into.” Do you know what I mean? I don’t get it.
BCT: You also produce some of your stuff. You did a web series called Apartmentship.
AS: Yeah, me and Dan Frigoleten did this web series called The Apartmentship with a really good director named Jeff Carton. That was basically … we shot in this really beautiful building in Manhattan. It was like this goofy – not goofy. We tried to put together this apartment and the strange living situations you might encounter.
It was the first time I wrote, produced, and did all that stuff. It was fun, and it’s out there. Theapartmentship.com, check it out.
BCT: Do you have any plans for recording any comedy albums?
AS: I’d like to, it’s just … my thing is, I care so much about The Funny. Do you know what I’m saying? That what’s most important to me, is the Funny. That’s our currency. I put a lot of pressure into creating my persona and my funny angle.
That’s what I can take to places. If I write an amazing bit, I can’t just put that bit into a tv show that I film, but I can take the persona that I cultivate and put that into a tv show, put that into Epic Fail, into an interview with David Letterman.
So in this game, I’m five and a half years deep, and every single day I’m chipping away at finding out what is it about me that’s funny. What is it I do that’s funny?
What are the intangible things that are funny? Anybody can write a joke. That’s why you see unfunny people have funny jokes. Like, you sit down with some people … I do on the road with some people, and I’m like, this dude has not made me laugh once in two days. How the hell is he funny?
BCT: The audience is laughing?
AS: Cause they’re funny in a very structured, mathematical … there’s a math to comedy. I could bring you down a road and say something that isn’t true, misdirect you, and suddenly, that’s funny. It elicits a laugh.
But they might not be funny. My brother is funny, but he doesn’t do stand-up. It’s just natural. You’ve got to find that natural.
They say it takes ten years, fifteen years, it’s hours on stage. In the five and half years I’ve been doing comedy, I’ve probably been on stage for more hours than most comedians. I was just a hog for stage time. That’s what I think matters. Everybody now thinks they’re a comedian.
BCT: Do you have a problem with that, that pretty much anybody now puts something on youtube?
AS: No, go for it, look, everybody should do comedy to realize how hard it is. Stand-up is a thing … everybody’s made someone laugh. People in the office, you’ve been at your job and made someone laugh. So when you go to a comedy show, you go, “oh, this guy’s making people laugh. Well, I’ve made people laugh.” When you go to a basketball game and see someone dunk, you don’t go, “oh, this guy’s dunking. I’ve dunked.” You’ve never dunked. Well, I don’t know if you’ve ever dunked.
BCT: I’ve never dunked.
AS: Most people have never dunked, so it’s amazing when they see someone do it. The way people act at a comedy show, they’re not as in awe as they should be. Cause there’s a difference between making someone laugh when they weren’t expecting it and going up in front of a group and saying, “I’m funnier than all of you. It would help if you guys didn’t talk. I should talk. Now shut the fuck up and laugh when I say things.” That’s a lot of pressure to make someone laugh.
BCT: Finally, speaking of that pressure, can you give me your favorite heckler story?
AS: I’ve had a lot of them. Like you said, my material is very unapologetic, so I have a lot of situations. I got punched in the face once by a dude in the audience. It was my first time doing a hood room. There are a few different scenes here in New York.
There’s the club scene, there’s the alternative scene, and then there’s the black and Latino scene. And the alternative scene is a copy of the black and Latino scene but for white people. Black and Latinos have been doing these shows in bars for years because they weren’t getting on at the clubs for whatever reason. They have been doing that for years, and you make more money in that scene at the lower level than in any other scene in the city.
The alternative scene also started doing that, putting on shows in bars and stuff, but that isn’t anything novel. This is something that blacks and Latinos haven’t been doing for a while in this city. So this was my first time up in this room called Mocha. I got up there, started talking with the crowd, and messed around with some guy. I asked if he was Puerto Rican, and he said he wasn’t Puerto Rican, and I told him that he was, and he got up – there’s no stage in a lot of these places, just a spot next to the bar – and I thought he was going to the bathroom, but he just came and punched me in the face.
BCT: Because you called him Puerto Rican?
AS: He said he wasn’t Puerto Rican. I said he was, and he just punched me. Then somebody grabbed him and threw him out, and the guy handed me back the microphone and said: “do your thing, man.”
BCT: The guy who’d thrown him out?
Yeah. He was like, “finish your set.”
BCT: Did you?
AS: Yeah, it was great. I played off it. I mean, the crowd can’t be against you. You’re very endearing at that point.
BCT: At that point, you’ve got the sympathy factor.
AS: Exactly. I’ve had tons of shit. I’ve had candles thrown at me. You see all these people and clips on the internet where some girl goes “fuck you”, and the comic’s like “, how dare you to say fuck you during my set.” Until you’ve been assaulted on stage with fists or fire, I don’t want to hear shit about your crazy heckler story.
Do you know what I mean? I’ve gotten into it. I’ve gotten into it outside of clubs. I remember I had this one guy waiting for me outside the club, going, “I didn’t like that joke you said.” I tossed him into a mailbox. I was furious, I shoved him into this mailbox, and my dad was walking up right then. My dad just got there and saw me and was like, “Andrew … how’d the set go?” (Laughing) I’ve had better. The crowd wasn’t into this one.