The local comedy circuit can be a harsh mistress sometimes. Gigs come and go; lineups change frequently; sometimes open mic nights aren't around when you need them. It forces people who truly want to do this for a living to get creative and delve into alternative methods for getting on stage. Take today's interview, Keane Clark, for example. Already a rising name in the indie comedy scene in Utah, and a co-host on the After Last Call Podcast
, Clark managed to turn his garage into an underground standup
venue where dozens of local and traveling comics have performed, giving stage time to those who may not have found it through conventional means before. Today we chat with Clark about his career and thoughts on local comedy. (All pictures provided courtesy of Keane.
Keane Clark on Twitter
Gavin: Hey Keane, first thing, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Born and raised in Utah. Half in the valley, but also lived in Ephraim in Central Utah for a while. Trying to build the Salt Lake City comedy scene. I host the After Last Call Podcast
. Big fan of palindromes.
What were your biggest comedic influences growing up?
Some of my biggest comedic influences are, of course, Bill Hicks, George Carlin (after realizing he was Mr. Conductor), Marc Maron and Bill Burr. I like angry comics with something to say.
What was it that made you decide to try standup?
I would listen to Bob & Tom In The Morning
at work; that was always the best part of my work day. Then I saw Bill Hicks' Sane Man
with the behind-the-scenes footage, and just knew that was what I wanted to do. I wanted to make anger and irritation funny.
What was it like putting together your first sets and doing open mics?
The first set was pretty easy to put together. You don't have to do much time, I’d been thinking about it for a long time, and you have nothing to lose at that point. The first few mics you do are more about getting comfortable on stage, rather than working out material, for me at least.
What were some of the biggest lessons you learned about performing when you first started?
Biggest lessons: Stand-up isn't drunk karaoke; you can have a few drinks, but don’t get shitfaced. Stay and listen to other comics; don't spend all your time outside.
What's your process like coming up with new material?
The process: inspiration/random thought. I listen to a lot of stand-up, so I’m always afraid of someone else's bit getting in my head and thinking it's mine. So I only write material that happened to me. That way if it is the same joke as someone else, I don't have to worry about it being stolen.
How has it been for you coming up through the indie circuit in town?
Coming up in the alt-scene has been pretty great. There are a lot of open mics to go to, and you get enough time to actually work out a few jokes. The comics are supportive and have become some of my best friends.
What made you decide to create an underground comedy spot in your garage? What has the response been like from people who have performed and seen shows there?
Two years ago, I thought it would be fun to do an outside BBQ comedy show. I had some comic friends coming from Las Vegas and some locals on the show. But it rained, so I did it in the garage, and everyone had a good time. After the show, I had comics ask when the next show was, and if they could be on it. Now I've had comics from Vegas, Seattle, Oregon, Nashville and all over California come to do shows in the shed. It's just a fun place to do stand up and hang out.
Are you looking to go out-of-state and tour yet?
I like the idea of touring and being a road dog. I don't have the funds to do that right now, and I really want to be a part of the Salt Lake scene. We have some very talented comics here, and I'd like to help grow the scene as much as possible.
What's your take on the Utah standup scene and the people coming out of it?
I have had comics come to my shed from all over the United States. They have all been funny, but they don't make me laugh as much as some of the guys we have here in Salt Lake City. Also, there are comics here not only doing great sets, but creating awesome new show premises like "Comedy & Other Opinions" or Dungeons & Comedy.
Aside yourself, who are some of your favorites you like to check out around town?
My top five local comics are Nicholas Smith, Levi Rounds, Jason Harvey, Natashia Mower and Jonny Brandin.
What are your thoughts on the current club system, both major and indie, and the work they do to promote comedy?
I’m pretty much just a part of the indie/alt seen. I like how many different venues we have to perform at. Each place seems to have its own audience.
What's your opinion of national stand-up comedians coming through town, and what impact do you believe that has on the local scene?
Wiseguys have brought a lot of really great big name comics to Salt Lake City. Which is great, I think that it kind of pumps up local comics. But, I'd like to see more venues getting bigger acts around town.
What advice do you have for people looking to getting into standup comedy?
Get a five-minute set together. Know it and hit every open mic you can find. Bars, coffee shops, comedy clubs.
What can we expect from you over the rest of the year?
I’ll be working with the people at Sandy Station to remodel the Vegas Room. And work on making another successful comedy club. Doing as many shows and open mics as I can. Working on my podcast, After Last Call
, with my friends Dustin Hagen, Tim Flood and Kelton Clark. Follow me on Facebook