Friday, January 25, 2013

Funny Friday! Meet Bobby Ray Bunch! (finally!)

*Note to self: NO MORE PHONE INTERVIEWS. I am ENTIRELY too lazy to transcribe them. That is all. ~h

Hey! Guess what? It's only been like a month since the last one, but it is Friday, people! And a Funny Friday at that! This week I'll be sharing my interview of a very funny man who may or may not prove true the rumor that gingers have no souls.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Bobby Ray Bunch.

me: Okay Bobby, first question. Who are you, in your own words? (whatever that means to you)
BRB: I think I’m not really like anybody else, which sounds like a really arrogant and cocky answer, but it’s just how I feel. When I run into some I know, they’re not just like “Hey Bobby” they’re always like “Bobby Ray Bunch!” My full name.  I am a very cynical, sarcastic person who doesn’t take a lot of things very seriously and I’m ocd about things. I’m a very weird person, I guess. I don’t know.  I don’t like that question.

That's ok, that question is pretty elitist, and it doesn't like a lot of people either.

me: As a kid, what did you dream of being when you grew up?
BRB: A firetruck. (A firetruck, huh?) Yeah, I wanted to be a firetruck. They looked pretty cool. (Must be the red hair.) Ever since I was in third or fourth grade I’ve wanted to be a stand up comedian. But then the older you get the more you realize that you’ve got responsibilities and bills and you realize that maybe you should just sell out and get a job.

Bills, shmills. You worry about those things? Psshh.

me: When did you know you wanted to be a comedian?
BRB: I remember in fourth grade I had just moved to a new school district I would make people laugh in my class. One time I got up to blow my nose and everyone stopped what they were doing and watched me, so I made a big show about it and got in all this trouble because I was distracting the class. Pretty much all throughout the rest of school I would always crack jokes in class, and even in the military I would get in trouble for cracking jokes. Getting out and going to college being the age I am I’m still a class clown. The beginning of every semester I’m always like I’m just gonna keep my mouth shut and not say a word but it’s literally physically impossible to keep my mouth shut.

When I was in the military I got in trouble for smuggling a snake in from Peru. No big deal. Probably just 'cause I was in the Marines. We're hardcore like that. Even the shit we do that gets us in trouble is extra badass.

me: How long have you been doing stand up?
BRB: It’ll be two years in February. My senior year in high school I was in a talent show and I did stand up for that, but it was squeaky clean. Then a year after I got out of the Air Force I went down to Penguins and did an open mic two months in a row. Then they closed. For another year I didn’t do stand up because I didn’t really meet anybody or didn’t know there were any other places to do stand up. So I had been onstage three times total before two years ago when I started doing it consecutively.


me: Who are some of your favorite comedians?
BRB: Bill Burr (gasp! a Ginger! It's a conspiracy!) by far is one of my favorite comedians. Brian Regan is amazing, to be that clean, and be able to draw any type of crowd. Of course Louis CK (another Ginger? I'm sensing a trend). I like Stephen Wright (Okay, so he's not a Ginger. But who knows if the curtains match the drapes?) and of course Mitch Hedburg (Ginger?) and Todd Barry (GINGER!) Oh, add Patrice O’Neal to that list, too.

Okay, it was funny at first, but there is a serious trend here. I mean, you stuck Stephen Wright in there and all - nice touch - but you are soooo not throwing me off the trail with the insertion of token non-Ginger Patrice O'Neal. You are a total Ginger elitist! I've got my eye on you, Wasowski... always watching...

me: Describe your brand of comedy, if you can. What's funny to you?
BRB: I would say that making fun of myself I actually get joy out of. Being onstage in front of all those people and being able to make fun of myself in a way that the crowd kinda feels bad for you but yet they’re laughing at you at the same time. I talk about being in the military and stuff, not because I want people to be proud of me (yeah, because you would have joined the Marines if you wanted that. Ooo! I kid). I want people to realize that just because I was in the military doesn’t mean I’m a hero. People call me a hero, but I didn’t run into a burning building and save nine babies. (8. It was 8. I read the news article.) I sat in a truck in front of a plane and watched it and made sure it didn’t go anywhere. I like bringing light to the fact that it’s such a knee jerk reaction when I say I was in the military. People always have to clap and all this stuff. It’s like you don’t even know why you’re clapping (Tourettes?), it’s ridiculous. Just shut up. I wasn’t even that good at it. I don’t consider myself an edgy comedian or an offensive comedian. It’s not because I don’t like that type of comedy, it’s just that I’m not very good at pulling that stuff off. I already come across as an asshole onstage, so I don’t want the audience to totally hate me.

You really kind of are like the grown up boy next door. A little... Eddie Haskel even. Wait, was he a Ginger, too?

me: What does being a comedian mean to you?
BRB: I think there’s a certain level of responsibility that comes with being a comedian. The term comedian is so widely used that it’s almost tough to say anymore. Before Youtube and Facebook and Twitter, being a comedian meant something else, and now anyone can have a Facebook fanpage (even Gingers like Bobby) or a Twitter account (Geez, they let Gingers have everything!) that says they’re a comedian. I don’t think that just because you’ve done an open mic once or twice or because you’ve been on a stage that it means you’re a comedian.  Does that mean that I’m a comedian? (Uhhh...) I don’t know. (Good answer!) Just because I’ve worked the places I’ve worked (Daisy Dooks?) or done what I’ve done that doesn’t necessarily make me a comedian. Because if I were to go to NYC or LA they would probably look at me like I was crazy if I called myself a comedian. To me, being a comedian means that you’ve been paid to do it or you make a living doing it. (I wanna get paid to do it. Wait, are we talking about comedy? Okay, I wanna get paid to do that, too.) I think there’s a certain level of responsibility to anyone doing stand up comedy or who calls themselves a comedian to back it up. I do take stand up seriously ninety nine percent of the time. I don’t wanna go onstage and look ridiculous, because as a comedian your name is your brand and you want people to buy your brand. If you continually go onstage and bomb, then don’t be upset when people don’t want to come see you perform.

I don't really want to get paid to do it. I mean, I wanna get paid to do comedy. And maybe other white or even blue collar work. I just don't want to get paid for... no collar work. Or choke collar work. I... like flowers? Yay butterflies! Ahem... next question?

me: What has been the greatest influence on your comedy?
BRB: Myself? I don’t know. I don’t know if I really have… It’s kind of hard to say, living in Iowa. It’s not like I’m working in a market with a lot of guys who’ve been on the road for a long time or been doing it for 20 years. I think it’s very self-driven. The scene in Iowa City is vastly different. I get a lot of motivation from seeing people who are constantly getting onstage anytime they can, and making sacrifices to live that dream. I respect that, and I kind of draw from that, cause there’ve been times when I’ve been at home and not feeling like getting onstage when I get a text or phone call saying come on, let’s get onstage, let’s go. You have to be self-driven and you also need a group of people around you who are going to motivate you to get onstage. That’s influential to me. You can’t be strong on your own.
(I can. Just sayin'.) You need some type of support system.

I definitely agree. I mean, take my boobs for instance.

me: What is one of your favorite moments (so far) as a comedian?
BRB: I would say one of my favorite moments so far was the first time I ever did stand up at Penguins. I had a whole different idea of what stand up comedy was like, and then I went to the open mic and I saw where everyone gets their start. And I worked so hard and prepared so much for my very first set. I did not think it would go well, and I didn’t understand what the hell I was doing there, but then I did really well for my first time and it was a sigh of relief. Like okay, I can do this. So gaining that confidence after my first time was one of my favorite moments. Probably one of my other favorite moments was when I did a show with Colin Ryan, Andrew Cline, James Draper and I think Chris Starman up in Monticello, Iowa. It was a full room, everyone was there to see comedy and every single comedian just destroyed that room. It was such a fun night, such a fun environment and everyone had such a good time. And afterwards we were all able to just bask in the good, fun feeling of how well we did. If you go on a road trip with a bunch of guys and you do really horribly it’s a quiet ride back. And there really is no better feeling in the world to me than owning a room, just dominating a crowd and then watching all your friends do the same thing, one after the other.

Aww... that is a pretty awesome thing. No funny business there. I mean, except for that bit where you said that everyone was really funny and stuff.

me: If you weren't doing comedy, what would you be doing with your life?
BRB: Well, I do a lot of other things with my life than comedy. (Yeah, like obviously trying to plot a hostile Ginger takeover with your ragtag band of hooligan Gingers. That's just what I'm getting out of this, though.) But I would probably be a lot more alone and angry and cynical than I am now, because now I could have the worst day of my life and go through something horrible and then that night I would still wanna get on stage. It’s just a relief. It’s like therapy almost. (I think I'm going to need some therapy after this. Or at least some Ginger awareness sensitivity training. I didn't know I had such an issue! Sheesh!) And hopefully it works out, and I’m able to continue to do stand up and able to continue to be pretty decent at it, and hopefully just keep getting better at it and keep learning. Maybe one day if, the almighty Allah persists and lets me, I will make a living doing it. Praise be unto him.

Whoa, whoa, whoa, let's not bring religion into this. Wait... are you Muslim?

me: What do your friends and family think of your life as a comedian?
BRB: My friends? (I know, Bobby. Tough question. Just... imagine.) Half of them are sick of hearing about it and the other half think it’s cool. My family… (laughs)… my grandma and my uncle had never seen me do stand up before. This past May I got booked to do a feature set at Diamond Joe Casino, so my grandma and my uncle got all their sons together and came to see me open. I… did not do very well. At all. I did not have a good set. It was not one of my favorite times. After the show, my grandma, of course, was like “You did so wonderful, I love you! You’re the funniest person I’ve ever seen in my life!” And my uncle was like “Tough crowd. Tough, uh… tough night.” And I knew for a fact it wasn’t a good set. So they probably think, well, fuck, anyone can do this. (Granny Bunch! Your language!) But I’m really proud of how far I’ve made it and I wanted to show them “Look at me! I’m good!” And I wasn’t. My dad probably just thinks it’s a phase and I’ll grow out of it. My sister, if you asked her who’s funniest person in the family my name would be near the bottom. I do not make my sister laugh at all. She does not find me funny whatsoever. She’s very supportive in any way she can be, but I could tell her “hey, I did this show” and she’d be like “yeah, who gives a fuck.” My family’s known me my whole life, so they’re not gonna think I’m that funny, ‘cause I’ve been cracking jokes since I was able to at the Thanksgiving dinner table. They probably think I’m a lot funnier off the stage.

me: What is your biggest, wildest, comedic dream you hope comes true someday?
BRB: In my heart of hearts I would love to live out in L.A., and be a writer for either a t.v. show  or comedy writer during the day and do stand up at night. My ultimate dream is to do stand up on Conan, but I better get moving on that because who knows how long he’ll be around. There’s just something about Conan. (HE'S A GODDAM GINGER!!! THAT'S WHAT! I mean... go on...) He’s very unique. He’s not like anybody else. Just his brand of comedy and the fact that he’s not even a stand up and he’s been such a successful talkshow host is fascinating to me. I’d love to meet him and do a set on his show. But I also would love to have a threesome with two Victoria’s Secret models. Female models, let me clarify.

I'm glad you clarified that last bit. Girls, it's okay. He's still swinging toward the ladies.

me: Elvis or the Beatles?
BRB: I don’t like either of them. (Here it is, people. The proof I prayed would never be revealed in the blog. Gingers really DON'T have souls.) I appreciate what the Beatles did for music, but I think they suck. And Elvis… wasn’t this a question at the Republican primary debate? (I'm a bad American. I don't watch smut t.v.) And none of the candidates could answer because they were too afraid to lose voters. Fuck Elvis (I would! But he's dead. And if he was alive he'd be old and fat. I want young elvis. Or at least Aloha from Hawaii Elvis.) and fuck the Beatles. (You can fuck them, I won't fight you on that.)
Fine, so who would you pick as your favorite band or artist? Jimi Hendrix or Stevie Ray Vaughan. Without Jimi Hendrix there wouldn’t have been Stevie Ray Vaughan, but without Stevie Ray Vaughan there wouldn’t be bands like Alice in Chains or the Black Keyes. What they’ve done for the guitar as an instrument let alone what they did for music is unbelievable. And they both liked heroine. One died by the needle and one by the helicopter. Music and comedy are my life. I love both equally, because when I’m in the fetal position in the shower crying… I can listen to any Jimi Hendrix or Stevie Ray Vaughan song and totally immerse myself. If you were to put on Elvis I would grab a rusty butter knife and try to slit my wrist.

Well, It's Now or Never... Ha! I kid. Keep away from the silverware, ginger.

me: What advice would you give to anyone wanting to give stand up comedy a try?
BRB: Stop talking about it and just do it. Do what you think is funny, don’t worry about what anyone else is doing. Comedy is way too subjective for there to be a handbook written about it. There is no real advice anyone can give you about stand up because it is your material, it’s your way that you want to do things. Don’t listen to too many people. Just do what makes you happy, because in the end you’re the one who has to live with it.


Bobby Ray Bunch, everyone. He's all over the place, Twitter, Facebook, The Mill in Iowa City where he runs a comedy showcase on the regular. There's going to be a you-don't-want-to-miss-this showcase tomorrow night, actually. Headliner Colin Ryan, newcomer Nick Eff, effin' hilarious Tim Majetic and amazing Andrew King. All hosted by your very own Bobby Ray Bunch! Get up there, people!

And wow. This was super fun! For me! Haha... hopefully for you, too. I've missed this. I'll be back. Soon. Like the next time there's a friday and stuff.


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