Grand Rapids comedian Stu McCallister has performed in numerous comedy festivals including Trial By Laughter, Laughing Skull, The World Series of Comedy, the Oddball Comedy Fest, and Laughfest, where he produces the Dirty Show. He has appeared on TV, in a movie, and also writes an advice column for Absrdcomedy.com and has his own podcast, LMNOPodcast. We asked him a few questions…
1. How do you describe your comedy?
2. Who were some of your comedic influences?
When I was a teenager I really liked Sam Kinison and was able to see him in 1988. He was loud, brash, in your face and funny. I really appreciated Jim Gaffigan’s stuff and followed him around before he got very famous. Today I like comic’s like Chad Daniels, Adam Cayton-Holland, Stewart Huff, Erin Foley, Michael Kosta, Rory Scovel and so many others. I just like comics who are smart, unique and relatable.
3. You also have experience doing improv. How does improv affect your stand-up comedy?
I’ve taken some improve classes and I would encourage standups to do so. You are using different muscles when doing improv. You have to be in the moment because the moment is all there is. You also have to learn how to play within a team setting. Improv is about the team. I think that is why I prefer standup more. I like that stand up is me and my words. If things start to sink there is no one there to yell ‘And scene.’
4. You produce the LMNOPodcast. Tell us what you’ve learned in the course of podcasting. How does that impact your stand-up comedy?
LMNOPodcast came about because I get to work with a LOT of great comics. It originally started out as Stu-Dio 1534 but we changed the name. The podcast just gives me the opportunity to talk with comics about whatever. Comics are pretty interesting people who have different takes. Over the course of the podcast though I have done less interviewing with other comics and more talking with me and my friend Nardos Osterhart. Nardos and I are a good pair as we are different in many ways but we get along well. The podcast hasn’t impacted my standup at all. I don’t have many listeners as I am not famous. I don’t expect to get famous from the podcast nor comedy. Maybe that will change in the future. I always tell people I have ‘6 listeners.’ I truly have no idea how many people listen. Probably 5.
5. You have performed in many festivals over the years. How is performing at a festival different than performing at a club? What advice would you give to comedians preparing to do their first festival performance?
Fests are different because your stage time is a lot shorter. Usually you are getting 8 minutes or less. It is a showcase show. It will be you and 8-12 other comics. And for better or worse most are contests now. There is stress involved in these things. You want to do well. You want to move on. You stress about what material to do. Basically I just say ‘fuck it.’ Do what you do. Don’t worry about things that are not in your control. Just have fun, network with people are enjoy.
6. Tell us about the column you write for Absrd Comedy.
I was approached to write an advice column for absrdcomedy.com because I give out comedy advice to newer comics. I do that because my thought process is if I can make other people better shows will be better! I don’t ever talk with people about their content. You decide what you want to talk about. I do encourage people to be cleaner, think smarter and be original. Of course the column isn’t just about comedy. It can be any kind of life question. I try to answer with some decent answer with a dab of sarcasm, wit and frivolity.
7. You book a lot of new comedians at Dr. Grin’s Open Mic in Grand Rapids. What’s the biggest mistake you see new comedians make? How can they avoid it?
My biggest pet peeve with open micers is not knowing your time. I hate people that go over. Just know your time. You get 3 minutes, do 3 minutes. Make it the best 3 minutes you have. Don’t waste it asking the crowd how they are doing. You shouldn’t give a fuck how they are doing. Stop wasting time! I hate when people ask questions. Anyone here watch tv? Yeah, we all have watched TV! Don’t ask questions. Move the mic stand if you take the mic out of it. Don’t wear shorts, sandals, or a hat on stage. Yes, the lights are bright because the crowd is supposed to see you, not the other way around. Open micers should ask more experienced people questions. You may not always like the answers but just listen.
8. What are you working on currently?
I recorded a cd back in October. I’m beating some people to get it finished. I have 30 sketches planned out to record another cd in the vein of Adam Sandler’s CDs. I don’t have management so it is about me working on getting better and more gigs. I have a role in a movie called Drama Class where I play a high school principal. It should be coming out in October. And I’ll keep plugging away with the LMNOPodcast and my advice column.