Shout-Outs to Barry Taylor
This week’s shout-out is dedicated to a comic who I enjoy running into around Toronto, both because I love his stand-up, and because he’s a solid dude. Ladies and Gentlemen,
I didn’t know what I was looking at when I first saw Barry Taylor take the stage. With a deadpan delivery and quiet confidence, he explores topics ranging from his hometown of Hamilton, to throw-away gags about The Legend of Zelda. The disparate subjects hang together well though, because it all feels like one train of thought. Authentic. I really respect it when a comic’s onstage persona matches their true personality.
Barry is also big into music, which has led to broadcasting jobs at CFNY, better known as 102.1 “The Edge,” and Aux.TV These entertainment industry connections probably led to the formation of “Comedy Records,” a Toronto-based comedy record label that launched in July 2010. The Comedy Records website currently has three current releases available, the latest of which is an album featuring comic Paul Myrehaug. Also available on the website are free audio clips, and a monthly newsletter with guest writers from the comedy and music community (with a healthy dose of crazy psychedelic art). You can check out the December newsletter here.
Barry also does writing online for website CHART Attack, and I’ll link to one of his articles, “The Ten Funniest Dudes in Rock” as an example.
Check out this clip of Barry doing his thing, then stick with us for a patented Premise PUNCH Tag interview about the biz.
An Interview with Barry Taylor
What made you decide to start performing stand-up comedy?
I’ve always loved comedy. I don’t think there’s a better feeling than laughing. Being able to get up on stage and possibly bring that feeling to total strangers in a room is a weird, addictive rush.
Can you name a couple of comics you look up to and explain why you admire them?
Growing up I was a fan of the SCTV comics. I think the hardest I’ve laughed in my life was the first time I saw Strange Brew. John Candy is a hero of mine too. Like most fans of comedy Bill Hicks and George Carlin are in my top 3 all time but right now I think Norm MacDonald is the number one comic I look up to. There’s no better story teller in comedy. He’s the best and funniest person on the planet.
One word answer: What do you consider the hardest part of performing stand-up comedy?
One word answer: What do you consider the best part of performing stand-up comedy?
What is the worst/funniest experience you have had while performing at a comedy show?
When I first started out I got a spot opening for the opener at a club in Niagara Falls. On the Friday night I did my 5 minutes and killed. I was sure I was going to be the next Dave Chappelle. The following night I did the exact same set at the exact same club and completely bombed. It was a humbling and rewarding kick to the balls.
If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
When I first started out Jason Rouse told me this and it’s true: Go out as often as you can. Hit any room you can. Perform at shitty bars in front of no one if you have to. Never stop hustling.
What’s the weirdest job you’ve ever had?
Before I got into college I had a job as a house cleaner. It was like Molly Maid except I didn’t have to wear a dress. It was ok but if the people were ever home when I came to clean I’d always get weird looks. I understood their confusion though, you’re expecting a woman to come but instead you get a skinny burnout with a monotone voice and giant feather duster.
What kind of humour bores you?
I can’t think of a specific type of humor that bores me. I don’t really like Patton Oswalt’s style of comedy, not too sure why. I know a bunch of people who I respect who love his work. And I thought he was amazing in Big Fan but he’s never made me laugh.
What 5 comics, dead or alive, would you book for your vision of a perfect stand-up show?
Host: Greg Giraldo.
Opener: George Carlin – right off the top.
Middle 1: Maria Bamford.
Middle 2: Bill Hicks
Headliner: Norm MacDonald
What is your favourite comedy album?
Tough call, it’s always changing. Bill Hick – Dangerous and George Carlin – Live is Worth Losing are the one’s I’ve probably listened to the most. Daniel Tosh’s True Stories I made up is amazing. As of today I think Lewis Black’s Luthur Burbank Performing Arts Center Blues CD is my favourite. That will probably change by the end of the week.
Do you have any topics that you consider off-limits in your act?
I don’t like making fun of fat people for some reason. I don’t think fat people want to be fat, and if they had a choice they’d lose the weight so I don’t go after them. Unless I’m heckled by a fat person. If that’s the case I’ll rip into tubby.
Since its launch in July, 2010, Your record label Comedy Records has released three albums, “Comedy Records Presents,” featuring a who’s who of upcoming Toronto comics, sketch troupe “The Boom’s” debut album “1300171,” and a solo album featuring comic Paul Myrehaug. What types of albums are you looking to release in the future?
I want to release albums that are funny. Whether it’s another album with stand up or sketch or something different, funny is the number one criteria.
Can you tell me a little bit about how and why you decided to start Comedy Records?
Comedy Records was created for a way to help promote the massive amount of world class comedy that’s here in Canada. Despite the huge comedic talent pool in this country the options for exposure are very limited. The label was made to help get some funny people distributed across the globe through digital outlets like iTunes MSN Music and HMV.
You have a background in radio broadcasting. Has any of that experience transferred over to the world of stand up comedy?
I guess it helped for the purposes of public speaking but radio is kind of the antithesis of stand up. In radio you have no idea if anyone’s even listening, there’s no immediate reaction to anything you do and if somethings not going well you can always put on a song or go to commercial. None of that applies to stand up. Plus you’re heavily censored in radio, in stand up there are no rules.
You produce a monthly newsletter to promote your record label that nicely mashes together music and comedy content. The subject matter is often quite controversial. Have you ever had to censor any content, or do you consider everything “fair game?”
Nothing is off limits in the newsletter. The comics that contribute can write whatever they want, their name is attached to their pieces so they get all the credit or heat that comes with it.
Organizing live tapings is an obvious must for recording a stand-up comedy album. How many different tapings do you find are necessary to get the material you need an album releases?
It can be tough. Ideally you want to get it on the first try and that worked for the first album. We recently recorded a show that didn’t work out for a couple of the comics so we’ll have to try again down the road. I wouldn’t record a comic more than twice though, if it’s not going to happen on two takes it’s probably not meant to be.