Jacob Erdman: Nebraskan Shark Charcuterie

October 31, 2018


Valerie Lopez


Richard Goodwin

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.” Jacob Erd­man

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.” Jacob Erd­man

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.

Jacob Erdman