Comedy Foot Soldiers – Barry Rothbart

by Dustin D'Addato on March 11, 2009

Welcome to our new feature – “Comedy Foot Soldiers”.  Each week we will highlight a different up and coming comedian.  These are the folks who are on the front lines of the comedy community.  They are out there every night for often very little or no money to make you laugh.  Some you may have heard of, others you will being hearing a lot more about soon.  (And you can say you saw them here first.  You better say that.  Or else!)

Kicking it off is NYC born and raised comedian Barry Rothbart. He  began his comedy career performing in the Boston comedy scene in 2002 while attending UMass.  He’s  a regular at most comedy clubs in the city as well as hitting “the road” at colleges and clubs all over the East Coast and Mid-West of America.  He’s a founding member of the sketch group “The Straightmen” and an improv troupe called “Bread House”. barry1

He’s performed at the New York Comedy Festival, DC Comedy Festival and Boston Comedy Festival.  He’s written and directed shorts for Comedy Central’s “The Motherload”, Turner’s “” and Discovery Channel’s “You Spoof Discovery”.   Point is the dude gets around and is hilarious.  Here’s what he had to say to our Comedy Foot Solider questions:

What’s the most important thing you learned since you started doing comedy?
I think it’s the process of getting to the point. Comedy is such an exercise in brevity that you become a master at it in everything. You really have to learn how to whittle down verbiage until you find the pearl. Just like this answer!

How did you know you were meant to be a comedian?
Wait! I’m meant to be a comedian?

What’s been your brightest moment as a comedian?
I think it would sound really romantic and noble if I said something like making my dad laugh during a show. Or playing at some charity event, but I think the sad truth is that it was probably one night when I played a college sorority show and I had groups of girls fawning over me. I think that felt the brightest.barry3

What’s been your darkest moment as a comedian?
Four words… New York Comedy Club. It’s the elephant graveyard of comedy.

What is your favorite thing going on in comedy right now?
The movement toward a more storytelling style. I think that comedy is moving more toward what I think it should be, which is actual truth in life, conveyed through story. I am so sick of punchlines that come from clever word play and no “real” moments of experience. I think comics like Louis CK, Paul F. and Mike Birbiglia are showing everyone that it’s possible. Plus I’m happy that comedy videos are becoming so mainstream.

What is the scariest thing going on in comedy right now?
The lack of mainstream venues on television for comedians. And besides that I think the movement toward making comedy a competitive art totally bastardizes the art-form. With shows like Last Comic Standing and comedy competitions all over the country, I think comedy can easily become something that is on par with juggling. Where it’s just this “talent” you have and not a performance art. Comedy cannot be competitive in nature, because it lies so much in the mind of the audience, not a judge.

Who do you think is today’s most underappreciated comedian/comedy actor?
President Obama. He’s actually hilarious.

What’s the best advice you ever received as a comedian?
Always assume the audience is much smarter than you. That was from Michael Delaney, SNL writer.

What’s the worst advice you ever received as a comedian?
The goal of every comedian should be to get on Letterman.

What is your craziest show experience?
I once did a show in Jersey at a bar during game 7 of the World Series when the Yankees we playing Florida. They literally shut off the TVs to have the show and there was nearly a riot. Everyone in the bar looked like the cast of a Bruce Springsteen video.

What is the biggest source of your comedy?
I think just walking around NY, it’s such a funny city. And David Cross; I steal all his jokes.

How would you describe your comedy?
Fantastical wonderment fermented with a keen desire to undermine the thoughtfulness of our everyday monotony.barry4

I would like to be known for… Working right up until the day I die.

Shoot me if I ever… Have a bomb strapped to me.

I think most comedians are… Really misguided jugglers.

The one thing I have never seen a comedian do, but would love to is… Win an Academy Award for Directing.

My favorite comedy bit that I was not involved in is… Anything Mr. Show ever did. I follow most ideas with “Damn, Mr. Show did it”.

My favorite comedy bit that I was involved in is… A sketch called “Jerry Jones and the BeeBopp Boogaloo” that I do with my sketch group “The Straightmen”.

People often say they are attracted to a sense of humor. I think that is… Untrue if you’re Bobcat Godthwait..

I would like to plug… My website… (watch my movies) and my Saturday show at Karma called “If You Build It”.

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