CHRIS KILLIAN INTERVIEW
Rooftop Comedy Productions is proud to welcome the newest member of the family: Chris Killian. Chris is a comic from the Nashville area, who spends his time touring clubs and college campuses, bringing his energetic mix of comedy and original songs (including “Bieber Fever”, pictured above). We recently chatted with Chris online to talk about his comedy heroes, Justin Bieber’s comedic chops, and why he’s still waiting to hear back from Jay-Z. Chris’ new album, The Not Black Album comes out tomorrow and we hope you’ll check it out.
How long have you been doing comedy?
Well I hate to brag, but you know that night we recorded the album? That was like my fourth time on stage I think. What is that—three months now? I dunno. My stand-up comedy career so far has just been a haze of drug and sex-induced bravado. Let’s just say two and a half years.
Who are your comedy idols?
Well if I don’t mention classics like the Carlins and the Pryors and the Hicks, comedy nerds might castrate me. Those guys, obviously, and really, I love anyone willing to take risks. Steve Martin is a genius. I know it sounds weird and cliché saying this because he died, but Greg Giraldo was my comedy hero. He was the first stand-up comic I ever watched live, and a few years later I got to open for him a few months before he died and the guy was just great. I still have text messages from him where we’re busting each other’s balls.
You hail from the Nashville area. What’s that comedy scene like?
It’s pretty rural. It’s a lot like LA except most of the guys are related. We love tractor jokes in Nashville.
You incorporate music into your act quite a lot and write original songs. Who do you identify as your equivalent in the music world?
I would hate to insult any musical legends by identifying them as equal to me. But probably John Lennon.
Who are your musical inspirations?
Inspired is probably a strong word. Let’s take Prince for example. I’m a HUGE Prince fan. What he really did was inspire me not to pursue real music because I’m just not that talented. Instead, artists like Prince and The Beatles and Tone Loc taught me that, like all great things, if I cut it down and make fun of it, I can pretend like it’s not that hard to do.
Have you always played music as part of your comedy?
The songs actually led me to stand-up comedy. Originally in college, I would just try to entertain my friends or pick up chicks, so I’d be like “Listen to this song I wrote about homeless people or statutory rape or necrophilia” and eventually, people would tell me I should try to perform those on stage. But from the get-go I knew I only wanted the music to be a small part to my show. The album actually has a lot more music than I usually perform. One reason is because I want the good songs I’ve written to have a longer shelf life so I don’t have to write more. But the MAIN reason is because I want the show to be diverse and break up the monotony a bit.
On the flip side, while we’re on the subject of music in comedy, I have ran into this elitist attitude from some stand-up comics, or purists, and there’s a certain backlash sometimes that comes from having music in my act. I have literally walked into clubs with a guitar and seen other comics roll their eyes and say something like, “Guitar comics are shitty. It’s just a crutch”. Well sure, I agree, some guitar comics are shitty and use it as a crutch. But just to assume that, without seeing them, because someone has a guitar, they’re automatically shitty, well that’s stupid. I know a lot of guys who don’t play music in their act who suck, but that doesn’t mean I think all monologists are terrible. I watch them before I judge.
But to answer your question, yeah, pretty much.
Has Jay-Z formally welcomed you to the “The ______ Album” club?
Not formally, but he’s got like 101 problems now instead of 99, what with Beyoncé and Blue Ivy, so I’m sure it’s on his to-do list. I did get an e-mail from Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich welcoming me, but he’s usually a dick so I didn’t respond.
What are you looking forward to this year in your comedy career?
I am looking forward to the sales of this album sky-rocketing me and catapulting me into the comedy heavens. Realistically, I’m happy to have a busy year on the books and can hopefully just keep writing and performing.
You’re a proud Justin Bieber “belieber”. Do you think he has any comedy chops?
Yeah, I do. Actually, I just read earlier today that the Biebs just bought the rights to the movie FEAR, where Mark Wahlberg played a psychotic stalker. Remember? The article said Biebs wants to re-make that movie and play the Marky Mark character, which I find hilarious. If there’s one word that doesn’t describe Justin Bieber, it’s intimidating.
Chris will headline Zanies Comedy Club in Nashville February 1-2 and Sidesplitters (Knoxville) on February 5. To see Chris’ full tour schedule, follow him on Facebook and Twitter. The Not Black Album will be available January 31 on iTunes, Amazon, and RooftopComedy.com.