Andrew Wagner Gets Creative

February 15, 2019

Interview by

Valerie Lopez

Article by

Richard Goodwin

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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.” Andrew Wag­n­er

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
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Andrew Wagner