Interview Clayton Fletcher at Greenwich Village Comedy Club
Written by Joseph Santiago
We sat down with stand-up comedian Clayton Fletcher at Greenwich Village Comedy Club right before his weekly show.
What do you wish someone had told you about show business before you entered it?
What was your process in developing this special?
My process is organic. My rough draft is always in front of an audience. If something gets a reaction, only then do I write it down and try to improve it.
Do you think your stand-up has changed a lot over the years?
Yes! When I started, I wanted to be like Lewis Black, but crowds were like, “what’s that tall, thin, white guy so mad about?”
What happens if they don’t laugh
I blame myself. My job is to make them laugh and I try to do that every night.
How often do you perform comedy per week?
It varies greatly. Some weeks I’ll do 20 spots, others only four.
What are you favorite comedy clubs that you perform at?
I have my own show every Friday night at Greenwich Village Comedy Club (www.theclaytonfletchershow.
How often do you write jokes?
I never write jokes. My material comes from the truth and it all starts with me being honest onstage. If the audience laughs, now I have some homework to do.
When did you feel like you were a pro comedian?
I have never felt that I’ve arrived. For every level I’ve reached, there are ten more I strive to attain.
How did you know you wanted to be a comedian or did it just happen?
I was working as an actor in an Off-Broadway play, doing the lead role, and I realized I hated my job because no one was laughing. So I tried stand-up and was instantly hooked.
Who would you say are your influences in the comedy world?
Mitch Hedberg, Todd Barry, Laurie Kilmartin, Rick Younger, Bill Burr, Sebastian Maniscalco, Donnell Rawlings, Jim Gaffigan, Tom Cotter, Richard Pryor, Wendy Liebman, and to be honest, Bill Cosby. But only as a performer, not as a person!
What is one of your more embarrassing memories from childhood?
In first grade, I wrote a love note to a girl in my class and the other kids found it and quoted it to me mockingly for about four months. That was horrible!
What are the most important rules you live by?
Treat everyone with love, never a borrower nor a lender be, and always remember you aren’t entitled to anything.
What was your favorite book as a kid, and what does that say about you?
I loved the Encyclopedia Brown series of mysteries. I think it showed an early preoccupation with psychology and problem solving, two very fundamental aspects of stand-up.
Given your feelings about the state of our culture, how do you avoid despair?
I have optimism that allows me to assume that not everything I read is true.
What three things would you take with you to a deserted island?
An airplane, large amounts of airplane fuel, and an instruction manual on flying an airplane.
Do you have any quotes that you live your life by or think of often?”
My father always taught me to be respectful towards women and I consider myself a gentleman.
How to handle hecklers from the stage?
Usually, I ignore them for as long as possible and then try to get the audience to laugh at their expense, with the goal of embarrassing them into silence.
“What advice would you give your younger self?”
Get seen before you think you’re ready because by the time you’re ready they’ll say you’re too old.
What most important lesson you learned in comedy?
Listen and learn from the audience. The audience tells me everything I need to know about my act.
Advice to your younger self just starting in comedy career?
Be friends with everyone because the ones you’re writing off because they’re so bad at this are going to make it.
How long do you spend developing new material?
There is at least one new idea working its way through my mind all day every day.
Why is there so much sadness—depression, addiction—in the comedy world?
Many open mics have drink minimums now, which is flat out irresponsible. People are trying to learn a craft and now they have to order from a bar to do so. Someone who’s predisposed to addiction is not going to be able to say “club soda” forty times a week. It’s just wrong!
What’s your drink of choice?
I don’t often drink but I like Chimay Red, a Belgian beer, on occasion.
Greatest cartoon of all time?
Peanuts. Charlie Brown is the ultimate underdog.
Let’s say you could live the life of any animal in the wilderness for one day: What would it be?
I think being an owl would totally rock.
So the stereotype of comedians being horribly depressed and neurotic is true?
NO! There are plenty of us who are fairly well adjusted. We just have to work a little harder to be funny because material comes easier to someone who’s a train wreck
Do you ever get tired of being a comedian?
No, I’m absolutely hooked on the art form. I get tired of the politics and games we have to play on the business side, but as for getting tired of doing comedy, that’ll never happen.
So at the end of your day, what’s your ultimate goal?
To get a good night’s sleep.
What would you say troubles you the most about the world today?
People don’t look each other in the eye anymore. We’re addicted to technology. It troubles me because much of this technology dehumanizes other people. From Tinder to Twitter to Instagram to PornHub and so on, we all have too many other people on our minds besides the ones we love.