Q1. Were you funny as a kid?
THE ART OF BEING A COMEDIAN
TELL US ABOUT YOUR ACT
YOUR UNIQUE SENSE OF HUMOR
Q13. Name a few of your favorite movies.
Ben: Anything with Paul Rudd. I love the Hangover movies. I also like, The Fighter.
Q14. Are you active on Facebook or other social networking sites?
Ben: I have a Twitter account but am not as active on it. I tend to post more on the bathroom wall!
Q15. Do you teach humor?
Ben: My answer might sound weird, but I don't think you can teach humor. It's something you have or you don't (have). It's something that you find within yourself. I do believe that if you surround yourself with the right people that you can and will develop a sense of humor.
Q16. As a professional in the field of comedy, how did it feel the first time you made someone laugh?
Ben: It was like a free drug for me, and it still is to this day. Once you do it, you're hooked. You just want more and more.
YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE FIELD OF HUMOR
Q17. How has humor changed you since you first started your career?
Ben: It has gotten stronger int he fact that I can still laugh when something horrible happens to me. I can still find humor in something that before might have depressed me.
Q18. Have you noticed any trends in comedy?
Ben: Yes! here's one that I can't stand! Comics that only cater to other comics. It happens a lot in the city, like when a comic goes on a rant that is only funny to his comic friends - not the general audience. That same person usually is the comic who after a show will come up and tell you that you're not funny because you didn't make him or his friends laugh.
Here's the thing: I didn't get into comedy to entertain other comedians. I did it to appeal to a total stranger. I'm not going to go up on stage and waste my time telling a 20-minute inside joke that others can't appreciate just to get a laugh from friends that I plant in the audience. (Okay, I feel better now that I've gotten that off my chest, next question).
Q19. What do you think about humor therapy?
Ben: Comedy is 100% my therapy! If I couldn't laugh, I'd be a miserable piece of crap.
Q20. Are you familiar with laughing yoga?
Ben: No, but if I went to yoga and someone passed gas, I would start laughing.
(Again, the interviewer is laughing...)
Certifications, Awards, Honors
Q21. Did you study theater or take classes relating to humor and comedy?
Ben: I took some Improv classes at Second City, as well as some classes at Comedy Sportz in Chicago. My instructor at Comedy Sportz was Frank Caeti from Mad TV.
Q22. Do you hold degrees in fields that are related to humor/comedy or to your act in general?
Ben: No. I never had time for school between work and trying to raise a family.
Q23. What field or concept has influenced your act the most?
Ben: I would have to say musical comedy and acting (in general).
Q24. Do you hold any certificates in humor or play therapy?
No, but I'm really looking forward to getting my certificate that says I'm no longer married to the unsupportive B**ch that never believed in me and called my work a "pipe dream." The joke's on her because this pipe dream is what helped pay for my half of the divorce!
Q25. Describe your continuing education in humor studies.
Ben: I'm currently studying and learning how to write sitcoms. It has been a dream of mine to appear on a sitcom, so now I'm taking the steps to accomplish yet another "pipe dream."
WHERE CAN PEOPLE SEE YOUR ACT
Q26. Have you written material for other comedians?
Ben: Yes, for many local comics. However, I do not do a lot oa collaboration because I have a wicked case of ADD, which makes it difficult for me to stay focused unless I'm by myself.
Q27. Where can someone see your act?
Ben: Live at one of my shows or a recorded version on YouTube. My YouTube page is DUKE7695.
Q28. Do you believe comedy can change the world?
Ben: Without a doubt. People always need to laugh.
Q29. Do you believe humor can heal?
Ben: For sure! It has helped me through some of the toughest times in my life.
Q30. Do you believe in talking unicorns?
Q31. Did you have an imaginary friend as a child?
Ben: No, but when I was in the 6th grade, I was in Special Ed classes, and every few years, some "moron" would evaluate me, which included asking me this very question. I thought it would be funny to mess with her, so I said, "yes", and she immediately perked up, grabbed her clipboard, and started taking notes. It got funnier when they called my parents in for a parent-teacher conference. Even my parents thought it was funny. Guess who didn't think it was funny? The school board who thought it was best that I spend the rest of middle and high school in Special Ed classes. I was later evaluated again, and can you believe it, they asked me if I "still" had that imaginary friend. Unbelievable!
Q32. Do you believe there is a higher power involved in our recognition of humor?
Q33. Should the U.S. Government have an official Secretary of Humor post?
Ben: I thought that was the President's job! (I'd vote for Louis CK!)
Q34. What advice would you give to someone entering the field of comedy?
Ben: I would say that it's hard, but it's worth it. Don't get too cocky just cuz your first time out is good. Chances are, your second time will suck. It's not because you're not good, but it's because you begin expecting to be good, rather than working at it. Most of the time FEAR is what gets you through that act, which makes the first time out especially good (for many new comedians). It's almost as if you go into survival mode.
Remember, you're good enough to be up there regardless of what another comedian might think. As you continue to develop your set, you're going to have some amazing shows, which get you through the bad ones. It's important to remind yourself that IT'S NOT YOU! DON'T BEAT YOURSELF UP!
I have performed back-to-back shows where the first one was awful, then the second one blew the roof off the place - all from the same exact set (word-for-word).
If you go on an open mic and you don't get laughs, don't worry about it. Most open mics are filled with comics who aren't paying attention because they just want to get up there and do their own set, then hit another open mic. Don't become that person. It's hard enough for some people to get onstage, but to sit through 15 people and then have them leave without the common decency of seeing your act, feels bad for any comic on stage. The point is: have respect for the people you work with, including those just starting out. Stay in the room, it's the courteous thing to do. Professionally speaking, it also pays as Bookers and Promoters are in the audience. They notice when you leave early.
Some of the best advice I've received came from Robert Kelly. He said, "When doing comedy, you need to treat it like school. Your first year is Kindergarten. Your learning steps on how to become better. Your second year is like first grade, and your next, second grade and so on and so on. It's an ongoing learning experience all the way through..."