by Chris Dolan
This past Tuesday, January 8th, I checked out Polygon Comedy’s The Perfect New Year at L’etage. The show featured stand-up performances from David Piccolomini and Vegas Lancaster, and improv from Philly group Nielsen, duo Steve Rogers Is Dead, and 2013 Witout Awards hosts Grimacchio.
The show opened with a great, crowd-pleasing set from Piccolomini – touching on everything from his personal appearance (“disappointing Jesus”) to family and live-action role playing (“LARP-ing”). After his set, I talked with Piccolomini about his comedy background, his favorite comedians, and his good-humored take on his nominations for the “Witin Awards.”
Chris Dolan: When did you get started?
David Piccolomini: I did one set at Noche, it was the worst set of my life. And then I moved to Florida for six months, then I came back…I did the Disney College Program. So, yeah, I did one set at Noche and moved to Florida for six months. I really got started in October, 2011.
CD: So what would you consider your first real set?
DP: My first real set was when I was 17 in high school for a competition, and I got disqualified for using the word “ass.”
CD: What’s your favorite room to work in Philly?
DP: Tight Six [on Sundays at Fergie's]. It’s great. They get an audience all the time. And Helium’s also good, of course.
CD: How did you get hooked up with this Polygon show?
DP: Ever since I was little I wanted to get involved in comedy. For a while I was an actor, then I did a lot of writing – I wrote a lot of one-acts – then I started doing improv over at the Incubator. And for four months I did improv there. And then I fell out of that but I’m still friends with Joe Gates, and he was looking for people [for the Polygon show].
CD: Are you consciously focusing on stand-up?
DP: I go up every day that I can. Between five and seven days a week.
CD: What I’ve noticed is that people do personal jokes, but yours is very detailed, autobiographical stuff.
DP: Most of it’s happened. My brother doesn’t actually work at a Wal*Mart, it’s a friend’s ex-girlfriend. But, yeah, most of the stuff is straight from life.
CD: Do you work it out where you embellish it sometimes?
DP: A little bit, but most of it’s straight-up real…when I moved to Philly I made a pledge to myself that I would just go out and do things. If you want to comment on your life, you have to have an interesting life. If you sit at home and just write jokes, you’ll probably come up with some very funny jokes. But the stand-ups I like are the ones who reveal part of themselves. The very personal guys.
CD: So who are your favorite well-known standups?
DP: Kyle Kinane – he blends really deep pessimism with optimism…it’s these very bleak cynical worlds that he just kinda brightens up making a cool mixture of both that I love. And of course Louis CK. Richard Jeni – he was one of the first guys I really got in to….and David Cross and Carlin.
CD: So let’s wrap it up. But before I do, the Witin Awards. I finally watched the nomination video today – what are your feelings about your nominations?
DP: I get made fun of doing stand-up comedy, I’m gonna say, more than anyone. And, the thing is, for Worst Bit, they put “Anything by David Piccolomini” – and that’s funny. I never have a problem when people make fun of me and it’s funny. If someone wants to be mean…but it’s all about intention, ’cause, [for me,] I’m an asshole but it’s all fun intention. There’s never a mean-spirited thing. I never attack someone that I hate.
CD: You’re also a regular on the Panic Hour, a Laffcast.com podcast with [WitIn producer] Steve Miller-Miller and N.A. Poe.
DP: Yes, I’m a regular. I started on there a couple months ago and I’ve been doing it every other week, and I do their live shows.
CD: Have you learned anything from podcasting that you can translate to the stage?
DP: I do a character on there a lot of times. It’s fun for me to try and come up with jokes on the fly. But it’s mainly just the writing. Writing with Steve [Miller-Miller] is a whole lot of fun.
Chris Dolan is a stand-up who lives in the Montco burbs. He has emcee’d the Phila Comedy Academy Graduation Showcase, and placed second in several comedy contests, making him the Gold Medalist of Silver Medalists, kinda. You can follow him on Twitter @CMDolan99.