Over the weekend, Buffalo.com took a couple of days to focus on the burgeoning local comedy scene. There were profiles of the comedy happening in Buffalo, how it has grown and who some of the players in the scene are. I have taken issue with the way Rob Lederman, of Rob’s Comedy Playhouse has chosen to represent the shows I run at Nietzsche’s, in addition to the way local talent has been characterized.
I will get to my thoughts on that in a minute. I feel like I need to explain WHY I would take such offense to that.
Here is the link to the original article
If you are a comedian in Buffalo, most people look at you like “If you were any good, you wouldn’t still be HERE” For the most part, it is absolutely true that one must travel to achieve the experience needed to become a truly talented headliner. But the idea that guys can’t develop and become good by living here and actively traveling to other stages is ridiculous. Buffalo is only hours away from Toronto, Cleveland and a short bus ride from NYC. Many guys make those trips, at their own expense, trying to better themselves.
What we have right now in Buffalo are some VERY Talented people, who are working all over the region. This is a unique situation, living in Buffalo. Decades of hard times have honed our “humor for survival” skills and I believe this city can produce the kind of talent that will get Buffalo recognized as a “comedy town”
You see, when an area cranks out great talent, the country recognizes it. They see Buffalo comics on the road, see talent and say “hey, whats going on in Buffalo” It’s Like any other industry. This has always been my goal here in Buffalo. Turn out quality comedy, make our city feel better and help change the negative impression people have of Buffalo, nationally. Ask anyone, I’m a bitch when it comes to people learning how to “do their time” or proper industry standards. I always tell the new guys that come to Nietzsche’s to know their place, pay their dues. Respect the craft of comedy, don’t be a dick who thinks he can get onstage 5 times and is then ready to “Headline”. I’m old school, I believe in Paying your dues and respecting your elders. Until now I have held back on Mr. Ledermen’s ignorance about my room. This isn’t the first jab at Nietzsche’s he has taken. Now I HAVE paid my dues, with 11 yrs as a comedian (that has played all over the US and Canada, from tiny bars to 3,000 seat theaters) and 5 yrs running and developing talent in this town, I believe I have earned the right to my opinion.
Nothing makes me prouder than having national acts come through Nietzsche’s and seeing their genuine SURPRISE at how good their openers are. Openers that Mr Lederman calls “Nietzsches level” and goes so far as to say they don’t know “how to make eye contact, or have any confidence onstage” For the record, I was surprised to see Lederman say he refuses to book the top local comics who regularly perform at Nietzscheâ€™s because he has “too much knowledge of” them, since no one can remember ever seeing him at Nietzscheâ€™s. Also, because, he has booked quite a few people who do, in fact, grace the Nietzsche’s stage. I can only be left to believe he was attempting to ruin my reputation as someone that puts on quality comedy, if he shit on my room, and uses some of those same people in his.
You see, Nietzsche’s does have its share of new comics, and 5 years ago that statement might have been accurate. But that was five years ago. That means that guys have had FIVE years to learn those things. It means that our scene is a living breathing thing that has grown and developed. I’m not saying there isn’t a difference between open mic comedians and those that should be paid. I lose my mind when a newbie asks if something “pays” when I know they have no right asking that question yet. My problem is someone portraying “open mic” as always rookie. Perhaps you’ve seen “Comedian” ,the Seinfeld movie? Open Mics are what keep comedians fresh, its part of the game. Its akin to “practice for a football team. Even the most seasoned veterans play open mics to work out their new material to take on the road. Yes there are some shitty open mic comics, but they aren’t all shitty. And in this town Nietzsche’s is probably the least shittiest open mic. In addition, acting as if open mics aren’t essential to building a quality comedy scene is simply ignorant. I promise you if a stand up is “working” and he doesn’t do open mics, the odds are you’re going to see the same 20-30 minutes every time you see that comic. Comedy requires dedication. She is a bitch and needs alot of attention, you need to be able to let go of your own insecurities and throw caution to the wind when trying to please her. My point is, in other towns, pro comics don’t get faulted for working out material and showing dedication to their craft.
I will agree with Mr. Lederman that there is a difference between suburban and urban clubs. I will not concede, however, that his is “the best comedy in Buffalo” or that Suburban is better. I also feel neither would IMF improv, ComedySportz or Eclectic Company Improv <–10 year improv veterans that could hold their own with any national Improv troupe. I understand that my goal in town is a bit ambitious, but in the past 5 years MULTIPLE open mics and showcase shows have popped up all over town. Urban comedy is on the rise. I feel it is important to say that this post isn’t about me. I know I’m a good comic, I have plenty of accolades to soothe my ego. This is about someone attacking personal friends of mine and insulting people he has never seen. Ok, it’s a little bit about me because I DO bring in National acts to Nietzsche’s and by saying my stage is sub par makes me think he forgot that Nietzscheâ€™s is also Buffalo’s destination for big name comics who eschew the relatively tame suburban comedy club scene in favor of urban venues. Recent performers include 30 Rock’s Judah Friedlander, Super High Me’s Doug Benson, Maria Bamford and Doug Stanhope. He didn’t say there is a place for urban and suburban, the reporter said that. He repeatedly made reference to “Nietzsche’s level” as a derogatory thing. I refuse to sit back and allow someone with no knowledge of what I’m doing, give an interview that does nothing but shit on this city’s developing scene. For the record the following comedians are local, and most of them work outside of the area plenty. Unfortunately our local “comedy club owner” either wont use them, or when he does he forgets and acts like they don’t perform on my stage almost every week. I encourage you to check them out and follow what is the heart of a burgeoning comedy scene, that should make all of you very proud. Eric Lingenfelter- WINNER “Laughin’ cup comedy competition” (Rochester), featured at Dark Comedy Festival (Toronto) Opened for Maria Bamford, creator of “Eric Lingenfelter destroys” right here on dointimecomedy.com Mark Walton- semi finalist Boston Comedy Festival, Finalist NY Underground Comedy festival, will be opening for JIM NORTON at The Comedy Club In Rochester SIDENOTE: The comedy Club in Rochester is well on its way to becoming an A List comedy club with performances by people such as Jim Norton and the Late Patrice O’Neal and MANY of our Buffalo comics get time hosting there. What does that say about our local “club” owner? As a matter of fact, until I open my club, I encourage you to make the drive to Rochester! (unless of course, I have a show) :) Shaun Murphy- Hysterical, brilliant writer, kills it pretty much everytime. Brian Herberger- solid, hysterical 7 yr veteran. And clean enough for ANY room. Chet Wild- Regular host at The Comedy Club and runs Chet Wilds Showcase shows at the same club. Dan Fisher, Josh Potter and Greg Bauch all local radio personalities with great sets, that have worked at Rob’s but also work at Nietzsche’s, so I’m not sure what he means by “Nietzsche’s level comics aren’t ready for his club” There are many others, I encourage you to check out and go to some live comedy shows. I apologize that this is so long, but when someone misrepresents my work to such and extreme I feel as though i must point it out. Anyone who cannot see why I would be angry lacks vision or is misinformed about what is happening here. I have plenty more opinions on this, and look forward to having a discussion with anyone who wants to talk about the difference between building a long term scene, and running a club just to make money. PSS. Does anyone else think the phrase “Nietzsche’s Level Comedian” is hysterical? Cuz I think I should make shirts