Rising stand up extraordinaire Tyler Boeh recently released his debut album "Carpool Companion" on iTunes and Amazon.com. On the album you can hear Boeh cover all sorts of ground from what it was like being a "98 pound weakling with a lazy eye" as a high school freshman, to how utterly humiliating it would be to have a Good Will credit card. On such tracks as "Techno Church" and "Beat Box Booty Call," Boeh showcases his remarkable beatboxing ability; which he wisely doesn't overuse in his act.
Going forward in his career, it's Boeh's signature logical bewilderment of and suggestive solutions to problems such as homeless people becoming "carpool companions" to make a few bucks and get someone out of traffic, that will soon have him regarded as one of the nation's top comics.
Tyler called me this past week to talk about releasing his 1st CD, what's next in his career, his inspirations, and if it really takes 10 years to become a successful comic.
How long have you been doing comedy and what was the beginning like?
I'm about 8 years in. I started in January of 04. I did improv all through college, short form and long, and I thought that was my thing and I was going to do improv. After college I moved back up to Portland (Oregon) and checked out some improv groups. I wasn't super impressed with any of them, and a lot of them wanted me to take the classes... I wanted to get to performing right away. That was a thing that put me off and it was great because that was the thing that made me think, "Okay, let me go check out some of these open mics."
Stand up is something I've always enjoyed and thought that I could do. I had written stuff in notebooks, I think a lot of guys write before they get onstage. First open mic I went to was at this place called "Fireside Coffee Lodge" off of 22nd and Powell in Southeast Portland. It was a coffee house, it wasn't even a bar. It was a terrible place for comedy. I brought some friends there and I said, "You tell me if I suck." I went and did my 1st set there and it went okay. Once you get going, you just get hooked.
I feel like I came out of the blocks pretty quick. I grew up doing theater and plays so I was very comfortable in front of a crowd when I started and having done 4 years of improv in college. Improv and stand up are totally different art forms, but that improv background helps because you're comfortable in front of a crowd, you're quick on you're feet... Obviously stand up is more scripted, but anytime you're onstage there's always an element of crowd work and thinking on your feet.
It's hard, but it's part of the reason I love it. I think that's part of the reason I came out of the blocks pretty quick compared to a lot of guys. I had some friends that when they first started they had to battle the stage fright thing. I didn't have to really do that when I started because I was already used to that.
Being 8 years in, do you find there's a weird truth to every successful comic saying it takes 10 years to make it?
That's a number that gets tossed around a lot and I'm kind of excited to see what's waiting for me at my 10th year. I think I'm happy but there's always a balance of happiness and are you content? I still am totally young and hungry, and even though I'm eight years in I feel like I can step in front of almost any audience anywhere and deliver a good, entertaining show in thirty minutes or an hour.
At the same time, I still always question "What's my voice?" I think there's times onstage when I'm really speaking through my "comedy voice" and there's other times when I'm just doing jokes. I feel like there is a little bit of a difference between that. If you look at some of the really great comedians now like Louie C.K. and Bill Burr and look at some of their earlier stuff, you can see they're doing jokes. Now they kind of have gone into new territory where they're developing on ideas.
You hear that 10 year thing get thrown around a lot, but I think it has a lot to do with experience. Some people will say that it's the rule of 10,000 hours. It takes 10,000 hours to master anything whether it's juggling or stand up comedy. It just takes time, man. I feel like I'm happy with where I'm at right now, but I want to keep growing and getting better and stronger. I know there's tons of room for that.
I'm a firm believer that this is a marathon, it's not a sprint. Everything for me feels like baby steps. And this (the CD) feels like a big step. It feels very official. This may sound kind of morbid, but after it got released and it was on XM, iTunes and Pandora, I had this thought that was like, "Well if I get hit by a bus tomorrow, then at least that's out there. That will go down in the history books." Twenty years from now someone will be on the internet searching for a comedian and I'll pop up. I got one in the books, it feels good.
Are there any common elements through out the CD?
One of the things that sticks out in people's minds when they see me is that I do use beat boxing in a few of the bits I do and it's definitely one of those things that people remember. I think it catches people off guard.
I feel I find a lot of humor in irony. Also, for me a lot of times it's just my skewed logic, my way of trying to explain things. "Why was that like that?" For me it seems logical, but other people might not see it that way and therefore think it's funny.
The title track, "Carpool Companion," is just my logic... if I was homeless, the way I would handle panhandling, or the logic of the Mazda slogan. There's a lot of bits where I'm trying to explain why something is the way it is.
What's it like seeing yourself on different major mediums like XM, iTunes, and Pandora?
Since I got up on Pandora, one of the things I was most excited about was looking at who Pandora paired me with. You start the Tyler Boeh comedy channel, you hear one of my tracks, then the next track will be artists Pandora deems similar or in the same realm. I feel like I'm in super good company because yesterday I played my track then the next one was a Jim Gaffigan track and some Tommy Johnagin. I didn't get any Brian Regan yet, but I'm hoping I do.
What's the next step in the marathon?
You never really know what the next opportunity is. I have stuff I'm working on, auditions, and always the next gig. I have a cruise ship showcase this week, maybe I'll end up doing some cruises, and I have some road gigs coming up. I'll be in Calgary, Canada in September at the Comedy Cave. That will be my first international comedy foray. I'm doing the World Series of Comedy in September in Las Vegas too.
Who inspired you to do comedy?
I was definitely more a fan and a follower of Saturday Night Live. That's what I loved. I know some guys who say, "When I was a kid I sat in my room and listened to records of Bill Cosby," or George Carlin... I wasn't that kid who grew up loving and listening to stand up. When I think of the guys I loved watching, it was Just the SNL ones... Phil Hartman, Kevin Nealon... All the cast, even up to Will Ferrell. I always kept up with it and was always a fan.
When I started getting into stand up... There's so many guys that I like... Lewis Black, I love Chris Rock. There's a lot of guys that I admire, but I don't think I'm anything like them. I don't think my comedy comes off anything like Lewis Black's or Chris Rock's. There's a lot of guys I love who aren't as well known... David Crowe, Paul D'Angelo out of Boston who is hilarious, I love him.
What's your favorite bit on the CD?
I listened to the CD once when I first got it, the rough edit, and I gave a few notes to the producer. I don't even know if any of those notes got taken into account... There's little things like if you repeat yourself or flub a word and you can do some things in post production to minimize it... if somebody yells something out... That's part of doing a live CD.
I love the Meth bit ("Methmatics"). I've toyed and thought about using that as the title track, but thought it wouldn't reflect the maturity of my act. I love that bit because it's one of my most well-crafted bits. It's full of punches and it usually goes over very well with the crowd. It is about drugs, but the joke and most of the humor is coming from a place of innocence. One of the newer bits I did on the CD and I'm still working on is the "Techno Church" track. It's a newer bit, but it's super fun and it's been going over very well.
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Tags: Amazon, Bill Burr, Brian Regan, Calgary, Carpool Companion, Chris Rock, Comedy Cave, George Carlin, iTunes, Jim Gaffigan, Kevin Nealon, Lewis Black, Louie C.K., Pandora, Phil Hartman, Saturday Night Live, Sirius XM, SNL, Tommy Johnagin, Tyler Boeh, Will Ferrel, Will Ferrell, XM, XM radio