Grand Rapids, Michigan comedian Dave Dyer has been performing stand-up for 23 years. He’s contributed material to ABC’s Politically Incorrect and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. He’s also a regular guest host on the nationally syndicated Bob and Tom Show. We asked him a few questions…
1. How do you describe your comedy?
I draw on my family and friends a lot. I’ve been married for 23 years. I have two daughters and having grown up in a family of all boys, my childhood was vastly different than theirs. Basically, I feel like I formed a team that doesn’t even want me around anymore. Kind of like when Steve Jobs originally formed Apple and then later on they fired him. I’m not insinuating that my wife and kids are nearly as valuable or impactful as the Apple Corporation, but you get the gist of where I’m able to create material.
2. How did you get started in comedy?
Like many in this career, I had wanted to do it since I was a kid. My dad listened to Bob Newhart, Steve Martin, Buddy Hackett, George Carlin, and on and on. I used to hear him laughing at those albums and loved them right along with him. I studied theatre in college and I played drums in a band so I had logged quite a bit of time on a stage before I tried stand up, but was scared to death to get on stage myself. Finally, when I was 24, I said, “If I don’t try it, I’ll never know.” I signed up for an open mic in Lansing, and voila….
3. You do lots of different things: perform stand-up, write, act, do voiceover work, write books, etc. Did you set out to work in so many arenas? Is it helpful for a comic to be versatile in their career?
I think the stand-up has to be the core of what you do and you need to really work on being the best comic you can be. Mostly because, and this may sound arrogant, I truly think it’s the most difficult form of entertainment to successfully pull off. There aren’t a lot of us out there and being good at it puts you in a pretty elite class, in my opinion. I do the other stuff because I do love having other outlets. I love to write. I enjoy doing the voiceovers because there is some acting involved and I really love the acting. I had a great time acting in college and I’ve done more of it lately and I get a real kick out of being part of a story.
4. Tell us about Pillars.
Pillars is a web series I do with my good friend, Kevin Yon. Most people may recognize his tone, as he was the voice of “Chrysler” for many years in their TV and radio commercials. He’s one of the funniest people on the planet and he and I have this beautiful relationship that is very similar to the one you see in the episodes. I get a little wound up and tend to worry about things that really shouldn’t get so much attention and he’s always the gruff voice of reason that makes me think more rationally. A couple years ago, we were sitting at lunch discussing some different topics and we just thought, “We ought to figure out a vehicle we can use to make these funny.” We came up with “Pillars” and started shooting them. We’ve done 14 to date and we’ll be shooting more soon.
5. You have written monologue jokes for television hosts over the years. How do you get into that kind of work?
I started submitting to ABC’s Politically Incorrect because I literally created a list of about 20 shows I’d love to write for and started calling their writing departments. “PI” was the only show that said they would look at outside material so I started faxing stuff in and they bought a few. I used to submit to Late Night with Jimmy Fallon because my manager at the time knew the head writer and said, “Hey, I gotta guy…” And then they started letting me submit and then they bought a few. It’s a lot of fun to hear something you wrote on national TV that you wrote sitting in your living room wearing only underpants.
6. You’ve also done a lot of radio work. Tell us about that. How does that compare to doing stand-up comedy?
I fill in on some stations here in Grand Rapids. I like radio. You don’t get the audience feedback like you do from stand up, but you have to be on your toes. You have to keep yourself pretty informed and you have to be really quick. The window to add something solid to a funny riff can close quickly if you’re not on your game.
7. You also do voiceover work. Tell us about that. How do you get into that line of work?
A friend of mine’s husband is in advertising. Years ago, I ran into them while out one night and he asked if I ever did VO work. I said “no” and he said he might have a project you could work on. Through that, I met a guy named Stuart Poltrock, who owned the studio we were working at, and he liked my voice and started using me for some stuff. It’s kind of grown from there.
8. What projects are you currently working on?
Always working on the act. Slowly writing on a book called A Life I Could’ve Had… which is a series of excerpts detailing fake run-ins with celebrities I’m guessing would’ve happened had I ever made the move to New York City or Los Angeles. But, also, working on an idea for a television show involving stand up, motorcycles, travel, and interviews…. we’ll see.
Extra Credit: If Ben & Jerry’s made an ice cream flavor in your honor, what would it be called and what would be in it?
Downward Ditch: Vanilla ice cream, chocolate chips, M&M’s, chocolate covered pretzels, and caramel swirls.