by Steven Sanchez
On Saturday, January 27, stand-up comedian Connor McSpadden, a prodigy in the craft of roast comedy, appeared at the Slice of Life show at the Old Town Clovis spot, Di Cicco’s Italian Restaurant. Serving up his signature “bro” style of humor, his rise in the comedy world is anything but a laughing matter. His writing talents have been showcased on The Comedy Central Roast of Rob Lowe and Snoop Dogg, and @midnight, and he made his TV debut on Comedy Central’s Roast Battle II last year. A favorite on the college circuit while honing his chops in competitions and festivals like Ventura’s Funniest Person (which he won), Riot LA, Trial By Laughter, The World Series of Comedy, The San Francisco Comedy Competition, and Broke LA. He was named “Best of the Fest” at The Golden Spike Comedy Festival. After his set he tolerated my questions about his hilarious and accurate depiction of Hispanics, how he overcomes stage fright, and how national exposure can affect your career.
KRL: As a Hispanic, you got a lot of things hilariously right about our culture. I’ve noticed that most comedians are very observational. They analyze certain cultures and use their perspectives to tell jokes. Do you ever survey American culture, take what you’ve noticed, and apply it to your jokes?
Connor: I started out in the Hispanic circuit, and that’s who I grew up with, and that became the very fabric of where I grew up. It’s very relatable to me, and it has struck a chord with people, especially those who are a part of that culture, so it makes it fun to talk about, and that’s why I try to do it as often as I can.
KRL: Most performers, no matter who they are, suffer with some form of stage fright. How do you overcome your nervousness when you’re out there?
Connor: If anything, I’m too comfortable with it, to the point it’s unprofessional now. It kind of showed when I was making fun of people in the audience. I never got too afraid—ever. I feel I’m at my best when I’m at a pizza shop in Clovis where I don’t have to worry much.
KRL: You’ve been featured on television. How does this impact a stand-up comedian’s career?
Connor: It’s nice to use it as an advertisement next to your name or on a flyer [or] on a website where you can get your name out there. It’s great and I’m very lucky.
KRL: You put yourself out there in a big way. You told stories that most people would rather keep to themselves. With you, is there a time where you do hold back, because there’s a story that is just too embarrassing to tell?
Connor: If anything bad happens to me, I get excited because I’m like, this [is] going to be so funny. Only when it involves another person, I might not tell it, like with the people I’ve dated. But if it’s just me and my experience that’s uncomfortable, I don’t care. I just hope that it’s relatable and not to necessarily shock people. But if you can keep an open mind to enjoy that kind of material, it’s a good thing.
KRL: In comedy terminology, the “punchline” is the end or climax to a joke that produces the biggest laugh and applause. In reference to musicians who say that when they come up with a good band name, a title to a song, or a good guitar riff, they get that intuitive feeling like, “this is it.” Do you ever get that light bulb going off when you come up with a good punchline and you finalize it?
Connor: It’s always fun writing it. As a musician myself, you come across something and gravitate toward whatever is cool. Same with comedy. You’ll be like, “that’s funny;” then you do it onstage, and try it out, and realize it only makes sense to me, and no one is relating to it. You have to try it out, and when people catch on it’s a great feeling, and that’s what keeps us comedians going is that feeling.
KRL: At concerts, bands usually close out their show with a popular song that everybody knows. It’s what everybody has been waiting for and it’s the big exclamation point to the show. Do you usually have a joke in mind that will end your set?
Connor: I try to mix it up because I don’t want to get too comfortable, because I’ve closed on the same joke for many years like most comedians do. I try to switch it up. I don’t use a set list. I just free-ball it for the most part, and go by what I’m doing in the moment, and if I do that, then hopefully the material gets better.
KRL: So do you think you’re at your best when you’re improvising?
Connor: I wouldn’t say I’m the best at it but it’s fun. I like talking to people in the audience.
KRL: As you mentioned, you may not work with a set list, but do you have a certain order in your head on how you want to tell your jokes before you perform, or do you go by the mood of the audience?
Connor: I go by the mood of the audience. I already know what I want to do and the jokes I’ve done for a while get boring at times. I like to see what the audience is into and if they don’t know, I’ll continue to do my thing and hopefully I’ll get it all worked out. When I’m on the road I like to go with God when it comes to that.
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