Searching for Lennon Free

September 21, 2018


Valerie Lopez


Richard Goodwin


What’s the deal with grin­ning, am I right?

Our guest this week would cer­tain­ly have a thing or two to say about the top­ic, whether it’s the phys­i­cal resem­blance to Jer­ry Sein­feld peo­ple often note, or the way he takes the stage with pos­si­bly one of the most beam­ing, ear to ear, smiles I think I’ve ever seen this side of a spring wedding. 

Both of those hit me imme­di­ate­ly when I saw Lennon Free this year in the Fun­ni­est Per­son in Austin pre­lims. While the pass­ing phys­i­cal sim­i­lar­i­ty to Sein­feld is an apt ref­er­ence, his com­e­dy style is unique­ly his own. (He also hears he resem­bles Mitch Hed­berg from time to time.) Some comics will set up with a somber or serene per­sona, wait­ing for the moment to pounce on the turn­about that will form the thread of the per­for­mance. Free, who advanced to the semi-finals, launch­es quick­ly into shar­ing his infec­tious amuse­ment, exact­ly the tone you’d expect from his look of enjoy­ment as he takes the mic. 

From the age of 4 in rur­al Penn­syl­va­nia, when Free mem­o­rized a joke book to amuse his fam­i­ly, there’s been an ele­ment of com­e­dy in his life. He swears he penned a mag­nif­i­cent joke at age 10, but can’t quite seem to remem­ber it; we’re eager­ly await­ing its unveil­ing, like a lost Picas­so, new­ly recov­ered. And even though it takes just a few moments with Free to catch his good-heart­ed­ly goofy nature, com­e­dy wasn’t some­thing he pur­sued in earnest right away. 

It took a chance stand up com­e­dy com­pe­ti­tion in col­lege, as a side act to an improv troupe per­for­mance, to actu­al­ly pull Free up on stage. With a stacked and heat­ed line up of over 1 entrants (2, to be exact), he was amazed to walk away with the grand prize: the oppor­tu­ni­ty to do a full 45 minute set at a cof­fee shop. That meant some addi­tion­al mate­r­i­al was need­ed, and quick­ly; he rose to the occa­sion, even though he bemoans his sense that he’s a slow writer. I bet you if I do com­e­dy until the day I die, I’ll put out one album. It’ll take me that long to put togeth­er [that much comedy]..and I’m titling it Nev­er Again: Vol­ume 2. Just to mess with peo­ple.

I bet you if I do com­e­dy until the day I die, I’ll put out one album. It’ll take me that long to put togeth­er [that much comedy]..and I’m titling it Nev­er Again: Vol­ume 2. Just to mess with peo­ple.” Lennon Free

Luck­i­ly, writ­ing is a key part of the expe­ri­ence for Free, whether scru­ti­niz­ing over a con­cept to devel­op his rapid-fire premis­es, or exper­i­ment­ing with incor­po­rat­ing longer form sto­ries. Despite his seem­ing­ly casu­al deliv­ery, he has a dis­ci­pline for mak­ing sure a con­cept is as sound as he can make it before he brings it on stage. In the rich open mic scene in Austin, it’s not uncom­mon for comics to hit sev­er­al shows a night, refin­ing their mate­r­i­al in front of audi­ences of vary­ing per­sonas, recep­tive­ness, and size. But everyone’s process is dif­fer­ent, and for Free, he focus­es on tweak­ing his per­for­mance and only bring­ing it out when he feels he’s got spe­cif­ic new con­cepts ready to share. I like to plan a while before I jump,” he jokes with Valerie, and indeed read­i­ly lays out his tac­tics for fur­ther­ing his future career.

Despite all the talk of dis­ci­pline, that’s not to say he doesn’t goof around in his dai­ly life, as even a quick review of his YouTube chan­nel–includ­ing a heap­ing hand­ful of Let’s Play” type par­o­dies – will show. If he’s not at a show, he’s prob­a­bly parked behind a con­troller; he def­i­nite­ly didn’t drop a ref­er­ence to his gam­ing stream on Twitch​.tv in the inter­view, but if he had, we’d say to check it out. Pos­si­bly 3 – 4 nights a week, 7 to 10pm. If he’s not on stage some­where. Allegedly.

Free has also guest­ed (and often sidled into becom­ing a reg­u­lar) on sev­er­al pod­casts, and run a show that includ­ed both come­di­ans and musi­cians. Tech­ni­cal­ly he has a record­ing of one of the shows, so we might argue that he actu­al­ly already has his first album out, albeit with a very lim­it­ed release. 

It’s going to be a bit of a wait before the next one. 


Catch Lennon Free at a stage in Austin near you, and do the inter­net thing and find him on the socials (Twit­ter, Face­book) or – and I think this is a first for us – his PSN (Lennon_​Free) and Twitch stream­ing channels.

Lennon Free