|Photo Credit||Jeff Baldwin|
Editor’s Note: We had some equipment issues during the last couple of interviews, rest assured it’s being fixed up shortly. So bear with just a little bit of noise in this one; our stellar audio quality will be back soon!
In our final 2018 Altercation Comedy Festival interview, Valerie Lopez grabs another on-location opportunity, this time with Fort Collins, CO-based Jacob Erdman. If you haven’t heard of him, ask around with subtle variations of his last name; people are prone to…interesting interpretations. Says Erdman: “sometimes I get ‘Birdman’; I’ll be a ‘Birdman’, I don’t give a crap.”
“Being funny is easy…being a comedian is fuckin’ hard.”
That nod to rolling with the punches–even something as simple as a mispronounced last name–in the name of comedy is part of Erdman’s ever growing toolkit. He considers himself very lucky to have gained awareness of his desire and ability to be funny at a young age, but as a white male, in “middle-middle class” Wisconsin, he recognized that turning his talents into real, reproducible, humor was going to be a challenge. “Being funny is easy…being a comedian is fuckin’ hard,” Erdman muses, and “It’s very difficult to turn that monologue into a dialogue people think is funny.”
In one of the absolute best “firsts” in this years series of interviews, Erdman tells Valerie about his life after getting a degree in GIS (digital mapping). Just listen, I won’t do it justice.
It wasn’t until age 30 that Erdman decided to turn his personal experiences into comedy on the stage. His first open mic experience was, he says “five minutes of me choking on my own fear.” Fresh off the unpleasant end to a roommate situation, he found himself with a focus on “chasing the dragon”. (That’s Erdman’s definition of the thrill of performing, not the heroin reference, people. He hit the stage, and started managing a band, trying to create a demarcation between his old life and new. “It had to be an internal renaissance,” he says.
He launched headfirst into honing his skills, practicing his principle of “ABC” : “Always Be reCording”. “it’s the only way you learn”, he says, especially when stage nerves are a constant companion: “I did a lot of dry heaving…it’s kind of my thing”. After a year of growing confidence working the stage alone, he decided to take his fate into his hands and start running some of his own shows. That resulted in several adventures-in-comedy business that he shares with Valerie, relating how it eventually turned his mind towards including community building and supporting comics coming into, or up in, the spaces he inhabits.
Erdman has a huge focus on the comedy community in his Fort Collins hometown. He currently books and produces 4 shows, and has a “friendly competition” with local David Rodriguez, who he says is a “jack of all trades…really genuine person…who builds comics’ resumes, and looks for nothing in return”. It’s a gracious battle that has helped develop the scene, drawing names like Todd Barry and Kyle Kinane, and Erdman says it’s still growing with no end in sight.
He has 5 years under his belt, and it’s barely the beginning of his plans; Erdman has a 5-10 year vision in mind, building on a structure of networking, tours, and festivals, currently weaved into a great balance with vacation from his “day job”. “I don’t jump into anything…I phase it in,” he notes. “I live by the philosophy of ‘always funny first’,” he says of his approach to life, gleefully admitting, “if I have a more difficult option that’s funnier…you always go with it.” He revels in being on both sides of the mic, stage and business, working on new performance skills while building new methods of supporting comedians in the shows he produces. All this while building a sustainable home base and financial strategy to support a future where he sees himself being able to safely hit the road 40 weeks a year, without worrying about the demons of money and bills chasing him along the way.
“Comedy is a shark; you’re either moving forward or you’re dying.”
Which brings us to another of Erdman’s philosophies: “Comedy is a shark; you’re either moving forward or you’re dying.” It’s clear he’s showing no signs of stopping, whether chasing his plans, or driving (sometimes literally) other comics into the spotlight. He’ll wrangle situations, people, and circumstances, doing whatever logical or nonsensical things need to be done to keep up the momentum. He describes it as falling down a hill and landing on his feet, only for the ground to fall out from under him and repeating it all over again. So it’s safe to say there’s much more of Erdman’s story to come.
Whatever happens next for (or to) him, at least we can be sure there’ll be a recording.
Jacob Erdman has a show on Nov 2nd at The Biergarten in Fort Collins. If you’re in the area, or are familiar with the concept of “airline travel”, get out and see him! And keep up with him on Facebook at Fort Collins Comedy.