Recently, I attended one of my favorite weekly comedy shows at one of my absolute favorite clubs. Every Monday at The Stand NYC in the Gramercy at 10pm there is a free late night show called Frantic hosted by, Aaron Berg. So on January 11th it was a real treat to catch the show, with a great line up of Noah Gardenswartz, Aida Rodriguez, Dan Soder, Subah Argawal, Dave Smith, Graham Kay, Luis J Gomez, Janelle James, a drop in by Judah Friedlander, Alex Pavone, and someone playing a character named Grigorio. On this night throughout the over two hours of comedy, I was able to grab a few of the comedians to speak with them quickly. Before the show started I was able to sit down upstairs in the restaurant portion at The Stand with someone I have become pretty friendly with, Dave Smith.
I first heard Dave on the podcast that he does with his two other degenerate, in the nicest way, brethren, Legion of Skanks. I have been listening to this podcast for just around three years. This is a podcast that prides itself on being offensive so much so they have given themselves the title of “Most Offensive Podcast”. Since I began listening I dragged my wife along who also has become a fan of the podcast so much so we have gotten matching “Skank” and “Skankette” tattoos. What I also find amazing now with podcasting, especially this one is that it allows the audience to create a somewhat personal relationship with those putting it out there. Because that’s literally what they do, put it out there. They talk openly about incredibly personal moments in their life that not all people would disclose in general, never mind with the greater public. So it was strange when I realized that this was the first time Dave and I got to sit and speak one on one.
Outside of the podcast I have seen Dave do stand up multiple times, and it’s always hysterical. Dave focuses a decent amount of his material on politics, while still taking it from a personal perspective. Although many comedians touch on political issues, I believe there are very few “political comedians” anymore and Dave Smith is definitely on that list and finally getting the attention he deserves.
How long have you been doing stand up and do you remember when you considered yourself a comedian?
“I’ve been doing it for nine years. I don’t remember the exact date, but I remember the month. I remember it was in July. I think very shortly after the first time doing it, and I think it’s true for a lot of comedians is they assumed the identity of ‘comedian’ very shortly after.”
What got you interested in doing comedy and what made you finally get up?
“My buddy, Luis J Gomez, we were friends and he was doing stand up and I would come hang out and watch him do it. We were very funny together as people and he kind of convinced me to start. I had become a big fan of comedy and kind of wanted to do it and I had batted the idea around for about six months was too scared to actually do it. I remember thinking ‘Lemme just sit down, and if I can really think it through I’ll come up with really great jokes’ and I thought I’d be great already and you know, just learned the hard way that you have to build an act.”
Do you feel podcasting now has helped, especially you guys, in getting “noticed”?
“Yeah, before I ever got anything going. Before the stand up scene or tv stuff I got stuff directly with podcasts. For all of us, I mean, for Jay had a little bit going on in the comedy scene. But for me and Luis we really got our stuff going even though we were doing stand up for years and probably should have been noticed by a whole lot of people.”
Which is incredibly true, both Luis and Dave should have been noticed quite a while ago and in the comedy scene, definitely looked highly upon. Many comedians in other forums credit Dave Smith as an up and comer especially on the political side of comedy.
“I mean, I have been for way too long now but the podcast stuff has now took it to more than just a name out there, it opened it up to create real fans. And then for us linking up with Anthony Cumia helped us open up. We were on our way up and he was creating this new thing and we met at kind of a perfect time. And he provided a format that I can actually pay my rent off the podcast, which is kind of a big deal for someone like me that financially speaking, was the like first break I got in this game.”
This statement I found to be very common and something that most people I think don’t quite understand. Being a “struggling artist” even in the comedy community is incredibly common. Truthfully, when I first began watching comedy both at the clubs and on tv. I assumed, probably like most people, that this was such a lucrative means of entertainment. That stand up brings all of this money, doing all of these sets around the city. That’s not really the case.
“I think people think that we are making more money than we are, at first. You can start making real money; I have friends who started making real money in this scene. And you know, hopefully I’ll be one of them soon too. But certainly you have to grind for a while; everyone has to grind for a while. Almost every comic, there’s very few overnight successes.”
Dave Smith has recently become very much a regular on multiple Fox News shows, growing even more so in the past few months. I was curious to know how he got recognized there, a forum that made so much sense since a lot that he spoke about on stage revolved around politics. I had guessed because of his newer association with Anthony Cumia and that he also for a while was somewhat a regular at Fox News.
“It was actually Sam Morril, who first got me in at Fox News didn’t really have to do with the Cumia stuff. But it’s kind of hard to separate those things because I don’t know what they’ve seen me on. I think for me, once I got in there I knew I would kind of stick around in that world. You know, that’s what I have been building, that’s the stuff I’m into. I’m obsessed with politics, that’s the comedy I do.”
Did you always see yourself as a “political comedian”?
“I wasn’t really into politics when I first started stand up so it wasn’t really in my comedy. Then once I got into it that helped towards this voice I have in comedy now. I think I would have found my voice if it wasn’t in politics but now that stuff is opening up in that area I can keep going with it. But I want to be able to joke about whatever I want to joke about.”
Not only can you see Dave regularly on Fox News, but Legion of Skanks is biweekly on The Anthony Cumia Network. From the two shows they release a free episode on iTunes. New Yorkers can also be audience members. Every Tuesday they are live at The Creek and the Cave in Long Island City, and every Wednesday at the Anthony Cumia studios. Dave also had been doing a weekly podcast called Part of the Problem which has recently moved to a brand new network that Luis J. Gomez and Ralph Sutton have formed called G.A.S. Digital Network. Part of the Problem since moving will be available twice a week. “I think it’s perfect, I think Luis has really great things planned for the network. I think my career and that network growing will work really well together.” Check Dave out on Facebook, Dave Smith on Twitter @ComicDaveSmith and any upcoming shows on legionofskanks.com.