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Confessions of a Hungry Young Comedian

Today, we have a treat for you guys. We’re rolling out a new feature here at Ye Olde RooftopBlog, Funny Title Here. It’s left vague, because we thought it would be cool for the comedians we interview to name their own feature (TJ’s name is the title of this post, FYI). It’s five questions with up-and-coming comedians. Funny words from funny people. Every Wednesday.

Our inaugural interviewee is Athens’ own TJ Young. In addition to winning a Rusty Nail at our Aspen RooftopComedy Festival in May, he, in his own words, does commercials, plays, movies, sketch comedy, improv comedy, stand-up comedy, mc/hosting, and cross-stitch…all of which require him to wear a thimble (on a different body part each time). Don’t ask. He also created and runs the monthly Showcase, out of Athens, GA. Without further ado, here is TJ Young.

1 – You won a Rusty Nail at our Aspen Comedy Awards, where were you when you first heard, and what was your reaction to winning?
I first received the email that I had won while I was working at my desk job. I remember three distinct emotions…surprise, confusion, excitement. I didn’t even know I was nominated, so getting news that I won was a great surprise. Then I read the name of the award “Rusty Nail”…and I was like “Is this like a Rooftop ‘Razzie’? am I getting Punked? (most ironic name for a great award ever). Then I figured out it was a positive award and that I was in really good company in that group of Rusty Nail winners…so I called my mom.

2 – How did you get into comedy, and what are your comedic influences?
As far back as I can remember, I developed a need for making people laugh. A lot of it originated with my Grandfather…he had the most infectious laugh and I figured out quickly that I could trigger it…and that in turn would make us both laugh at each other for hours. I was hooked. I got involved in acting at a young age with the help of my mom and enjoyed the comedic roles quite a bit. Then in college I joined an improv/sketch comedy troop and loved that new challenge. I was always a fan of stand-up, but only decided to try it not quite two years ago. So many things influence my comedy, not just comedians…but since they are the most obvious influences, I’ll list a few: Jonathan Winters, Steve Martin, Bill Cosby, Chris Farley, Jim Gaffigan, Zach Galifianakis and a few of my close friends that you people wouldn’t know, but they crack me up constantly.

3 – What was the absolute worst show you’ve ever had?
Cheesy as it sounds…I don’t think a show is bad, if you can learn something from it (and laugh at the ridiculousness too). I’ve had my share of tough shows. I performed on the Sunday Night open mic at the Comedy Store in L.A. recently. Only getting 3 minutes to make people laugh is a pretty daunting task…I watched several people ‘eat it’ ahead of me and I managed to improvise a decent joke about the guy right before me that broke up the room a bit. I survived, but that was a pretty exhausting 3 minutes…and believe me, I can get exhausted in less time than that even…ha. And, recently I tried performing stand-up in between bands at a rock show…the crowd didn’t know there would be comedy (so they weren’t paying attention) and no one introduced me…so I spent the first 5 minutes of a 10 minute set, trying to talk over the audience. “Surprise Stand-Up” rarely works.

4 – On your personal Myspace page, your background has you photoshopped into various movies stills. If you could be photoshopped into any movie poster, what would it be?
This is a funny question. Usually these questions are about things that you hope for but you can’t simply ‘make’ happen. So, I will answer with something that I CAN’T simply make a reality on my own…I want to ACTUALLY appear (not be photoshopped) on my OWN movie poster…I’d love to be in movies and on TV in the future.

5 – You’re a Graphic Designer, according to your Myspace page. So, Graphic Designer versus Comedian, if you had to a pull a Sophie’s Choice, what would it be?
I have so many varied interests…comedy, design, music, etc. There is not much in life that I enjoy more than making people laugh and creating funny moments. I’d like to think that all my interests can be incorporated into my comedy…for promotion, or in producing comedy video sketches or my ridiculous photoshop projects. But, if I had to choose…I’d pick comedy.

And as promised, a really great clip from TJ. Many thanks again to TJ for his time!


Comment from “Mom” and Dad
Time: August 6, 2008, 4:17 pm

We’ve always loved TJ’s unique skill to keep the laughter rolling around our house….not that he has lived close to us for years. We are proud of his incredible creative talent! His family are is biggest fans!!!!