Q: Some actors who played comics for a TV or movie role say they felt naked when they tried stand-up for real. Do comics?
A: Maybe at the beginning, I can relate to the feeling of some sort of hyper-exposure. But now, it feels a lot cozier to me than that. I think when a lot of people are starting, they think they’re doing comedy at the audience. And then at a certain point your act and your style comes together and you realize you’re doing comedy with the audience, and that’s not nakedness. Nakedness is the feeling of like I have to manipulate you somehow into laughing. Feeling warm or wrapped in the audience is the feeling of like, “We’re doing this together and if you don’t like it, that’s OK. It’s kind of your fault, it’s kind of my fault that it doesn’t always work. But we’re going to do this forever. Whatever happens, we’re going to do this forever.”
Q: So it’s a symbiotic relation?
A: Absolutely, and it’s hard to believe that in your bones but after about 10 years, you really start to get the sense that you’re like, “No, I’m not twisting anybody’s arm. I’m just offering it up what it is that I think is funny.” And I’m not trying to make them laugh, I’m inviting them to laugh at what I find funny. You know, I’m glad they try it. I will say that it’s a really, really hard thing to do.
George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.