You already know he is a hero, which makes him more than worthy of this week's DC Spotlight. For more than 2 years John McBride has been bringing his laid back style to stages all over the DC area. Growing up as the little mixed kid in Atlanta, he has a very unique view of how the world works and it shows in his material. This loose style equates to most of his jokes hitting you before you even knew they were coming.
But don’t let his comedy style fool you. He is also one of the hardest working comics in town. For several years he ran the Café Rendezvous open-mic, which quickly became a favorite of local comedians to workshop their material. He also help run The Bomb Shelter @ 18th and Red, which was featured in a AMU radio piece on DC Comedy. Now, he and Brandon Ivey are producing the new Classic American Comedy showcase at Parker’s American Bistro in Bethesda. It debuts Friday night. Add another item to the long list of things Jon has done to help the DC Comedy Community.
He has been featured on the Comcast-on-Demand Open Mic and was a finalist in the DC Improv's 2007 Showcase competition. He has also worked with comedians such as Ted Alexandro and Bob Marley.
Catch him performing soon at:
Friday, Feb. 29
Parker's Classic American
4824 Bethesda Ave, 20814
Thur-Sun, March 18th-22nd
Hosting for DC Benny
8 and 10:30pm
DCC4N interview with John:
When did you realize that you wanted to do comedy?
I don’t know! I mean I guess this isn’t the right answer. It’s hard to pinpoint a specific time. I had many boring summer days as a kid and I used to watch this show “Stand up Stand up” on Comedy Central. I remember it was hosted by some really corny dude. But they would basically run the same stand up clips over and over again, and I would still watch it over and over again. I clearly didn’t realize it at the time but that show sucked and it’s not normal to watch that show over and over again. But I loved it...
[Read the rest of John's interview, plus a video after the jump!]
...Maybe that was an indication that I might want to do this one day. I also have the really cliché story where my older sister and her bad news boyfriend let me watch Eddie Murphy’s Delirious when I was like 11 or something, this is true and I remember laughing my ass off but I wouldn’t say that was “the moment” either but it definitely influenced me. But I always was pretty funny, my mom is my biggest fan, she thinks I’m hilarious (Shocking I know). I actually just called her and asked her what she thinks my first influences are. She didn’t know about the Eddie Murphy thing until I just told her, looks like I let the cat out of the bag on that one. But she said she used to let me get away with some things I shouldn’t have gotten away with because I did it in “a funny way (my moms words)” to her. She always said “You’re going to be a comedian.” Thanks mom!
Who were some of your earliest influences? What about them captivated you?
Eddie Murphy is the first guy that really influenced me. That time I saw Delirious (read above) was really the first time I saw a comic just dominate for more than an hour. One thing that really caught my attention is when he said something like “You thought you were going to see Gumby and shit…well you’re not.” And then he started cursing and just taking that place over. I was like whoa “You can just do that?” That was the first time I saw something like that. Also, my dad loved Mel Brooks and he would always get us to watch Mel Brooks movies like Spaceballs. I specifically remember him taking me to see Life Stinks, at the time I thought that was the funniest thing ever made and so did he. Then of course I saw other comics on TV. I didn’t really matter who it was when I was a kid I would always just watch it. I guess they would be influences as well. I have other influences also but you asked for my earliest so that’s what I can remember as the earliest. My parents would fight with my sister a lot and I would just drop some kind of joke to chill everyone out. I also proudly hold the honor of being the only person that can make fun of my sister without her trying to kill me. YOU try and see what happens son.
Where did you first perform? What was your first paid gig?
First performed at Dremo’s. First paid gig at The Hyatt. Thanks Curt!!!!
What was your first joke?
I think it was the joke about how no one knows where I’m from. I look Mexican or Arab or whatever. So I like to confuse people, like last week I went to a job interview, I was munching on a chalupa and wearing a turban. They were confused…but hey I got the job though, you are looking at the face of Taco Bell for the new Iraq…I start really soon they said…as soon as it calms down over there…which should be any minute now. I think that was my first joke could have been something else though.
Do you prefer to write on or off stage? Do you enjoy the process of writing?
I prefer to write off stage. That’s where most of my writing gets done. On stage I might discover a new tag or sometimes I even uncover a new angle for a concept that I never thought of. But I will take that off stage and try to write more on it later. I really do like the writing process especially when I got something going. That really gets me excited. I love writing because when you come up with something that makes me think, “I can’t wait to get on stage and do this.” I will say though, there is a direct correlation to how much/well I write and how much I am on stage. The more stage time I get the more I write. I like writing with other comics as well. They throw out a concept and we will just mess around with that for a while. Then I’ll throw one out and we’ll mess around with that for a while. Sometimes you get an angle on something that never occurred to you. It helps and to me it makes it a lot more fun. If both of you are sitting there laughing at a concept or a punchline then it will generally be a good joke. That is the real fun part to me. Also, if you are writing with another comic who is your friend you start talking about other stuff that is happening in your life and realize that something about your situation is really funny too.
What about performing live do you enjoy? Do you ever want to convey a message?
My favorite part of performing live is just when you get on stage you do your first few jokes and you can see that the crowd is really with you. That’s the best part, it’s like I really got them on your wavelength and they want to know what you are going to do next. That’s when I really loosen up and take more risks on-stage. I also like the surprise when you do a joke that the rational part of your head is saying, they are not going to like this because it is making fun of whatever demographic is in the audience. But then when the joke goes over well with the crowd you feel like you kind of got away with something. I don’t specifically write jokes to try to convey a message, I try to be funny. But if there is an instance where I can get something in that kind of proves a point I might, as long as it doesn’t compromise the funniness of a joke. But also I won’t say something that is against my personal morals. Like I am not going to be extra derogatory towards gays or women or just crazy racist or something because I think it can get a laugh, that’s not trying to convey a message but I am just being responsible to myself. What’s the point of having a funny joke if you feel like shit every time you tell it?
What's hacky to you?
Stuff I have heard before basically. People can do jokes about stereotypes and it not be hacky, but you need to try to take a hack(I’m clever) at it in a different way. You can’t be like ‘white people can’t dance’ and all you do is dance like an off beat white person, and that’s the joke. That is garbage, everyone has heard/seen that and we get it. Now does that mean you can’t talk about white people not being able to dance? No, mix it up, find a different angle, I’m not saying it will be the best joke in the world but it might not be hacky. If you are going to use a concept like that, I kind of see it like you have 1 strike against you already for the joke, now are you going to get 2 more by doing some tired ass joke with it or are you going to find a new way to attack it? Some concepts, like the one I just referenced may not have any other angles left though…but you get my point. With all that being said, if you start out with a completely new and interesting concept it really has endless possibilities to be a great joke.
What is your day job?
I’m with the United Way as a Development Associate as of right now. I help them raise money. I like to call it “paper chasing.”
Were your parents supportive of you doing comedy?
This is a really interesting question for me. My mom is very supportive of my stand up. She loves it. My father passed away before I started doing comedy. I often wonder how he would feel about it. He was a really strict man. No nonsense, but he did have a good sense of humor and loved to laugh. I mean I could get him laughing really hard sometimes. I remember I told him a story about my 7th grade Spanish teacher, Ms. Simpson. I was telling him how she pushed this shopping cart just full of all kinds of crap around the school all the time. She didn’t know any Spanish either and we just did the first page of the workbook for the entire semester. But she loved saying the word “Encantado!” a lot, and spit would fly out of her mouth every time she said it. I would just yell out “Encantado!” from time to time and just get him cracking up. But as far as him liking me trying to make folks laugh for a living? I don’t know how he would feel about it. I’m not sure if he would really be supportive or not, I like to think that he would be though. He just wouldn’t think it was a really good career path or choice…mainly because it isn’t.
Where do you plan on moving next?
I think New York. But I’m in no rush, I don’t know, stop asking me all of these questions…anything can happen.
How do you feel about the overall comedy scene in DC? Anything you want to change and what are you going to do to change it?
I mean talent-wise I like the scene. I think we have some really funny people. It’s cliquey but I don’t think there is any scene that isn’t. I don’t mind the cliqueiness anyway, that makes it fun to watch everyone try to measure themselves up to one another. I think there are folks that honestly think that they are the funniest person here, or will be the funniest person soon, and those for whatever reason desperately want to be the funniest person here right now. I think that type of delusion is healthy and hilarious. It’s hilarious because who gives a fuck if you are the funniest in DC(how do you even quantify that?). Just get yourself to the point where you want to be, where you feel comfortable taking it to a new level…whatever that level may be for you. It should be a different path for everyone. Now it’s healthy because everyone is competing, but for what, I’m not really sure. But for whatever reason we are competing and it keeps peoples brains moving and pushes us to come up with new stuff, and that’s great. I think it really helps the scene and helps everyone get funnier and funnier. Anyway, what I would change? More rooms would be tight.