|Photo Credit||Harrison Hammonds|
“My name is Andrew; I don’t smoke weed. Surprise!”
Hearing this opener come from this week’s guest, Andrew Wagner, strikes most as…well, accurate. With a clean-cut ‘do, button-up shirt and jeans, Wagner immediately jumps out at you as a strait-laced, mid-Western, kind of guy.
You’d already be wrong on one account, as Wagner is a born-and-raised Texan, growing up in Plano and moving to Austin, with a brief stop at the University of Oklahoma for a degree in Creative Writing. Born to somewhat conservative parents, he enjoyed comedy and joking around (listen to the interview to hear his zinger about “tutoring”), but didn’t really pursue the idea of comedy until he realized that the jokes they crack on his favorite shows like Scrubs were actually written by someone. Thus began his long love affair with the craft of writing.
With standup having piqued his interest after seeing some open shows, one time at home on a college break Wagner tried a couple of his own open mic appearances in the Dallas area. As is too often the case, the first one didn’t go over well, but he braved the stage again a week later, and…actually had a worse go of it.
Only moderately fazed, Wagner kept at it for a couple of years back in Oklahoma, battling our shared friends “anxiety” and “stage nerves”. Eventually he started coming to Austin to do shows like the well-known Sure Thing showcase, before deciding to settle down in our town. He also shares with Valerie Lopez how he ended the run of the first open mic he performed in here; I think that’s a first for us.
Today is a much different story for Wagner; instead of ending shows, he’s running them. He co-hosts the open mic at Love Goat on Saturday nights with comic Sam Castillo, and hosts Bubble and Squeak at Brentwood Social House. Far from being a bit of a self-proclaimed punchline among comics in past appearances, he’s finding himself in situations like being one of the standouts in the recent Kill Tony live stand-up podcast recorded when Tony Hinchcliffe was in town at Cap City Comedy.
With only 60 seconds to work with in Kill Tony, and open mics of varying length, it’s often key to have a tight handle on your material, and this kind of optimization plays directly into Wagner’s creative writing background. As he describes it, “[I’m] always thinking of the most direct way to say stuff…There’s a million different ways to write any sentence or any joke, [and] I feel like it’s really helped me settle into what I like, and what works for me.”
The Love Goat open mic and Bubble & Squeak showcase are helping Wagner grow into himself, as he himself is helping others do the same by welcoming them on stage. “You’re giving your time…To be a part of the community I do think you need to contribute,” he says. As his stand up continues to improve, he’s looking back to writing, with a spec script he hopes to get submitted to the Austin Film Festival, designs on an original pilot, and has enrolled in a sketch writing class at Fallout Theater. You should definitely also follow him on Twitter, where his skills of packing just the right punch into 140-characters-or-less really shines.
“To be a part of the community I do think you need to contribute.”
Wagner discloses that–at some point–he does plan an escape from his (now) “6-year detour into performing”, into focusing on writing full time. It’s a bit easier on the nerves, but has imposing deadlines when it’s submission time. “Most of the fear of writing looks like procrastination,” he says, and the pressure to just “sit down and to it” helps move the work along.
Ultimately, Wagner says his goal is “connect with people through stories and humor”, in whatever form it takes. He’s got the mindset and determination to pursue it, and we can’t wait to see more of his work on screen or stage, big or small.
Catch Andrew Wagner at:
- Bubble & Squeak; the next show is Feb 22nd with special (original) host Jered McCorkle, and the last Friday of every month
- Wagner guests for headliner Allie Amrien at The Velv, Feb 22nd and 23rd