From stutterer to star: AGT comedian Drew Lynch opens up about special and NJ show
It takes a lot of guts to be a stand-up comedian. Maybe that's why some of the best come from New Jersey.
It's not easy to stand up on a stage armed with nothing but your jokes in front of people who not only paid to see you but in many cases are forced or required to purchase two menu items as well. Now try it if you stutter.
That would be Drew Lynch, a 30-year-old comic from Indiana, the home also to both David Letterman and Jim Gaffigan, who finished in second place in the 2015 America's Got Talent Finale. He did it despite a stutter that he got as the result of a softball accident. Rather than let that get him down, he did the logical thing anyone with a newfound stutter would do, become a standup comedian.
He told the emotional story to AGT. then went on to be so funny that Howie Mandell hit the golden buzzer sending Lynch straight to the live show at Radio City Music Hall. Lynch then performed in Week 1 of the Quarterfinals and later in Week 1 of the Semifinals and received the public vote to be sent into the Finals.
Lynch then finished in the Top 5 acts of the competition before placing second behind ventriloquist Paul Zerdin. He now has a YouTube channel that has over 2 million subscribers which also features vlogs about his service dog Stella.
He's got a new one-hour special called "Concussed" and he'll be appearing at the Union County Performing Arts Center on Jan. 22.
Listen to the interview at the 1:05:00 mark of my On-Demand show:
What made you decide to pursue a career in standup comedy?
"I never saw myself there at all. I grew up doing theater...for me I only started doing theater after my injury. I only started to seriously pursue it once I had gotten some encouragement from other comics. I was working at a comedy club when the injury happened. I never wanted to do stand up, I just thought it was the perfect night job so I could go audition for film and TV shows during the day out in LA. You know when the injury happened so many comics they love drawing on like pain and frustration, so I got some encouragement from some friends to just go on stage and talk about how I was feelings and some thoughts that I had about what I was going through, some things I had written down on a napkin when I was in the hospital. Never things I thought I'd be making jokes about. I know it's kitschy to say but people can really find some therapy through laughing at themselves, their experience and problems. I think when you share it as a collective, I think that's what makes it powerful."
How nervous were you as your waiting to go on?
"My hands were like balls of fists because I was shaking so much. I remember calling my mom right before going on, which I know sounds so cliché, a boy has to talk to his mom. But I wasn't even so much nervous about I guess the jokes because you know the jokes you have done. That interview part, that's the part you can't account for, you can't prepare for. I had no idea what they were going to say, how do you be likable in as little time as possible and what questions are they going to ask you. My mom told me, "you're here because of you, not because of your jokes" and I kind of took that to heart. And I'd like to think I've gotten to where I've gotten not because of my jokes or because of my speech, its just hopefully by being honest, myself and vulnerable"
You said that you were different before you got hit, and you probably wouldn't have hung around with you if you hadn't gotten hit, what did you mean by that?
"I think life can be brutal, but I feel it can be just. I feel like I was lacking maybe compassion or perspective. I was blind to obstacles people had every day because I didn't have any. I wouldn't say I was a bad person, I lacked perspective, I had an air about me of arrogance and misunderstanding. Through it all it has taught me to be patient, more tenacious, taught me to see that other people can be going through things that might not be on the surface."
Did Howard Stern give you any advice?
"I actually respect his opinion quite a bit. When I was on the show, one of the things he had given me some criticism on was to no longer laugh at your own jokes. I think the excitement and the nerves, some of that stuff was naturally coming out. As comics season themselves, they try to sharpen the iron of the jokes by not interrupting with their own commentary of it, which can be by laughing. For me at the time, I didn't really implement it, but now I would say I don't laugh at my own jokes."
To get tickets to see Drew Lynch at the Union County Performing Arts Center click here.
Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise only. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.
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