Harry Moroz is a California-based comedian who has been performing stand up and improv throughout the United States and Canada for the last several years. He performed in 2011′s LaughFest, the World Series of Comedy, Laughing Skull Festival 2012, and the Laugh Your Asheville Off Festival 2012. Here he sits down with BOJ to discuss the art of hilarity.
BOJ: Harry, how did you realize that comedy was something you were interested in doing?
HM: Making people laugh is something we all do at some point in our lives. I just liked doing it a bunch as a kid and that didn’t go away after college, so I went to an open mic to see if I could do stand up and I sucked. It wasn’t something I wanted to suck at, so I kept going at it for a while, and the more I performed, the more I realized that it was what I wanted to focus on doing.
BOJ: We must know! Is a first performance as terrifying as we imagine?
HM: The first time for everyone’s going to be the hardest because you don’t know what’s realistic to expect, and your imagination is much better at portraying believable fear than happiness. I’ve never really had stage fright, but I still had the adrenaline rush pre-performance that I’d only experienced before races in high school cross country. In both cases, I was super excited for it to start – the stand up because I couldn’t wait to see what it’d be like to be on stage performing jokes I wrote in front of a crowd of strangers, and in cross country because the sooner the race started, the sooner it would be over. I was not a member of the cross country team voluntarily… My first time on stage didn’t go great, but I got laughs at a few jokes, and that was enough for me to keep going back.
BOJ: Where do you find inspiration for your material?
HM: I find inspiration through living my life the way I want to. Comedy is just a commentary on life and culture, so you can really get inspired from anything.
BOJ: Have you ever had to deal with hecklers? How do you handle these bozos?
HM: I’ve had to deal with plenty of hecklers. Comedy spots attract boozers, and boozers have no problem letting the flood gates open and speaking their mind, regardless how out of it they are or what is going on around them. Fortunately, comedians are supposed to be quicker and wittier than the average person, so as long as you don’t let it frazzle you, you can usually turn the table on them and, ideally, get them to shut up. Sometimes you can go overboard and be too hateful/hurtful, or try too hard and that’s how you lose the audience. The best way to do it, I’ve found is to be quick, simple, silly, and move on. No one comes to see hecklers, and the only thing they can really do is make a show worse.
BOJ: Do you find making videos, or performing stand up to be more rewarding as a comedian?
HM: The thing that’s cool about stand up is that you’re there first hand to get your audience’s immediate reaction. The wave of laughter you (can) get is overwhelming, unlike any other high I’ve ever experienced. Video is great, too, because you can work with others and have something that is watchable anywhere at any time without having to buy two drinks to see it.
BOJ: What would be your advice to a comedian just starting out?
HM: My advice to starting out comedians is to write a ton and to study joke format. Things are funny to you when you experience them because you don’t have to put the pieces together to make them funny. Explaining funny things to others requires structure and timing. I’d also suggest avoiding talking shit about anyone else in the business. You do well on stage if the audience likes you, you get up on more stages if your peers like you.
BOJ: Do you only hang out with comedians? Do less-than-average funny people bore you? Is this boring you?
HM: I don’t limit my hang outs to only comedians. As a comedian, you’re trying to tell jokes that most people can relate to, and if you only hang out with a select group of people who do the exact same thing you do, then you’re not really getting any insight on what else is going on in the world around you. Plus, most comedians hate/suck at sports, so who would I watch Red Wings games with?
BOJ: Do you have a favorite one-liner?
HM: “You know when you’re sitting on a chair and you lean back so you’re just on two legs and you lean too far so you almost fall over but at the last second you catch yourself? I feel like that all the time.” -Steven Wright
BOJ: Who are your favorite comedians, Harry?
HM: Patton Oswalt – I’d been listening to stand up for years already, but when I first heard Patton Oswalt, it took my love of the craft to new heights. He’s well-spoken, has beautifully crafted jokes, and passionate about his material. He was the biggest comedic inspiration of my post-adolescent life.
Paul F. Tompkins – I always found PFT’s stand up hilarious, and now that I’ve seen/heard him act as characters on a variety of podcasts, I’m too impressed with his ability to be so clutch on the fly not to include him on this list.
Doug Benson – I don’t think Doug Benson gets enough credit for the creativity in his joke stylings. They’re the epitome of silly, which I love, and are performed in a more unique form than the typical set up, punch, set up, punch, set up punch style. For an example, look no further than his bit on segues (not the things that you ride).
Bill Cosby – I had trouble as a kid sleeping, so my parents would put on Bill Cosby cassettes for me to listen to while I fell asleep. He has to be one of the greatest story tellers of all time. He sparked my initial love of stand up and I will never get sick of listening to “Revenge” no matter how many hundreds of times I hear it.
Dave Chappelle – His show on comedy central was one of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen, and his two stand up specials were two of the greatest I’ve ever seen. This dude knows and lives funny.