‘America’s Got Talent’ finalist Samuel J. Comroe stops by Spokane Comedy Club
For comedian Samuel J. Comroe, it’s taken 10 years to become an overnight success.
The Los Angeles-based comedian spent the past decade bringing his self-deprecating humor, which often centers around his experience with Tourette syndrome, to comedy clubs and colleges across the country.
His résumé also includes appearances on “Conan,” Kevin Hart’s “Real Husbands of Hollywood” and All Def Digital’s “Comedy Originals.” He has also won Ricky Gervais’ Comedy Competition and the San Francisco Comedy Competition.
All that experience surely helped Comroe as he took the stage week after week as a finalist on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.”
He finished in fourth place, but you wouldn’t know that by looking at his calendar. He has dozens of headlining dates already lined up across North America into early 2019, including two shows at the Spokane Comedy Club on Tuesday.
Q: Have you gotten a chance to catch your breath since Wednesday’s finale?
A: No, it’s been insane. I did the finals, the results, and then the next day, I got to the airport. Now I’m on the road for months. I have a couple days (off) in between now and the end of the year so it’s pretty crazy.
Q: Your website was down for a couple days because so many people were trying to buy tickets. That must feel overwhelming, but also, like you said on the show, you’ve worked 10 years for this. It’s about time.
A: Exactly. It’s one of those weird things where it feels strange to complain about it because I am so thankful but my website guy was panicking. He’s never seen more than 10 people on that site at a time. It’s pretty crazy.
Q: What was your motivation for considering something like “America’s Got Talent”?
A: I’ve been trying to audition for awhile and I, season after season, would see comedians that I knew or that I’d been on shows with get on the show and have a lot of success and I thought that my style and my story would be a really perfect fit if I could get in front of the judges … I knew once I got on that stage, I’d have a good shot at getting pretty far. I never thought I’d get as far as I did. I had a goal in mind but when it actually starts happening, it’s pretty surreal.
Q: How many times did you audition?
A: It was probably three or four years where I either sent in a tape or I went in front of maybe one producer in that giant line that you see in the beginning of every season … This year I finally sent in the video and said “If you can get me in front of the judges, awesome. If not, I’ll pass on it.” It worked out.
Q: What do you think it was this time that got you in front of the judges? More experience? The material?
A: I think it was a combination. I think it has to do with getting in front of the right person at the right time. Those producers are sitting there for so long and they’re watching so many different acts and sometimes when they see you, if they’re tired, maybe they’re frustrated or not in the right mindset for 90 seconds of jokes, so I think it was right place, right time. And then as far as how far I got in the competition, I’m definitely thankful that it took an extra few years because I think I was most ready at this time.
Q: What was your thought process when crafting your set each week?
A: A lot went into it. It’s weird how much of a strategy you start putting together. It’s unlike any other stand-up comedy thing that I’ve ever done because stand-up comedy, you usually go up and you’re in the moment and you have a lot more than two minutes. But on this show, they only give you two minutes and you really have to bring it. You’re going up against so many talented acts that you have to edit down jokes. I found myself taking maybe a story that used to be three minutes and taking the punchline from that story and making it a 15-second to 30-second thing so I could wedge in as many jokes as possible. It was a lot of strategy.
I did try to outdo myself every week. I’d look at my last performance and try to figure out “How can I make this one better than what I just did? How can I top it?” Because I didn’t have what the other acts had. I didn’t have fire. I don’t have music. It’s just me, a microphone. The only way to really outdo myself is my own energy. The second strategy that went into it was I didn’t want to be defined by my disability throughout the whole competition, so there were a couple sets that I really tried to focus on not talking about Tourette syndrome as much just to show that I’m not a one-hit wonder.
Q: Did that lack of theatrics add any pressure to be on top of your game?
A: I thought it would intimidate me initially and then I kept going in with the mindset before I’d go on stage … I was trying to tell myself that all I can do is what I’m capable of, which is my stories and stand-up. I can’t change my act just because the act before me did something incredible with this huge production. You’ve got to put the blinders on almost and appreciate the other acts in the show but not think about it too much when you’re on stage, just focus on what you’re capable of doing.
Q: Your sets feature a lot of self-deprecating humor. Why do audiences love that style of humor so much?
A: When I first started stand-up, I wasn’t really talking about Tourette syndrome and stuff like that because I didn’t want to be known as the Tourette syndrome comedian initially. I wanted to be known as a comedian who happens to have Tourette’s. I wanted to be seen as funny first, but as time went on, I realized that talking about Tourette syndrome let the audience know how vulnerable I am and I think people relate to that. Everybody goes through their own struggles and their own stressful situations so when you talk about yours, it lets the guard down and it allows people to laugh at something that they can relate to.