Jim Grammond is a Philadelphia comedian and host of the new Philly Improv Theater panel show Reasonable Discourse with Jerks, which will make its debut Wednesday, July 27th at 8:30PM. Jim also writes a blog and is very active on Twitter.
How and why did you get into comedy?
I got into stand-up comedy because growing up in the stand-up crazed 80’s I loved it, everything from Bill Cosby to Sam Kinison. After watching it for years I finally thought I would try it.
How would you describe your style as a comedian? What influences and factors do you think contribute to that?
For me this is interesting (I guess) since I am coming back to comedy after a few years away. My previous style was kind of dry/angry/weird, which sort of reflected who I was. I’m still weird, but less dry and angry. So I’m trying to change my style now to reflect that.
Do you have a favorite show or venue you like to perform at? What about it makes it fun or special for you?
Helium’s my traditional favorite, but I’m really enjoying the new venues that have opened up to comedy in the past few years, like the Shubin and Connie’s Ric Rac. Most venues have some redeeming characteristics. Most.
Do you have a single favorite moment in Philly comedy or one that stands out?
Seeing a comic get off stage at the Laff House and go outside to fight an audience member. More than once.
Do you have any sort of creative process that you use with your writing or your performance? Or a sort of method that you use to develop comedic material?
My new favorite tool is Twitter. I’m on there at @jgrammond. It forces me to write concisely and is great for developing a premise for a new bit. I used to be very into memorizing the bits I wrote, but am trying to get away from that as it can sound really unnatural on stage.
What is it about stand-up that draws you to it?
I’m an attention-craving nerd who always wants to show I’m the smartest person in the room (even when I’m not, which is often). So stand-up is a natural place for that attitude I guess.
Do you have any favorite performers in the Philly scene? Why are they your favorites?
I’m going to answer this a little differently and mention the Philly comics who were just starting or really young when I went on my comedy hiatus who I think have gotten really good. That list includes people like you (note from the editor: I am Aaron Hertzog), Steve Gerben, Joey Dougherty, Blake Wexler, Pat Barker, Brendan Kennedy, Mary Radzinski, and I’m sure plenty more. I’m not even including the people who’ve moved away. I’m also glad Oakland or Oaklyn or whatever his name is is still around. He’s a treasure.
Do you have any bad experiences doing comedy that you can share? A particularly bad bombing or even an entire show gone haywire?
I once did a show in the basement of a shady Phoenixville “bar”—I don’t think they had a liquor license. It was like no one told them prohibition ended. There were five people in the audience and I was the only white person within eight blocks. Before the show, the police were there looking for a local young hoodlum named “Butt-Butt”. I bombed real, real bad, but the after party was fun.
What do you think the Philly comedy scene needs to continue to grow?
It’d be great if a bunch of people could breakout of the stand-up scene here without having to move to NYC or LA first, like a comedy version of what Nirvana/Pearl Jam/Soundgarden did for people’s impression of Seattle. It’s cool that Luke Giordano just basically did that.
Also, the trend of doing and promoting stand-up shows in actual theaters rather than bars with makeshift stages has to continue. Bars are really hard to put on shows in. People in bars are usually there to drink and talk to their friends, not listen to weirdos with microphones.
Do you have any personal goals for the future as you continue to perform comedy?
It’s nice right now that I don’t have a real, ultimate goal. I know people say if you don’t have a goal you won’t be dedicated, but I’d rather just do it for fun right now and see where that leads. I will say my job-related-to-comedy goal would be a TV writing gig, preferably for a late night show.