Ron Lechler Resets

July 14, 2019

Interview by

Valerie Lopez

Article by

Richard Goodwin

Listen

Right out of the gate learn­ing about this week’s guest, Ron Lech­ler, he taught me some­thing in return: that a paper clip will work as a col­lar stay, in a pinch!”. Mind you, I don’t have shirts with col­lar stays, much less wear and main­tain them to the point that a sub­sti­tute is nec­es­sary. But that’s not the point, which is that – for 3 sea­sons of the web series Pro Tips–Lech­ler had a ton of such nuggets to share. 

Of course, this is a come­di­an we’re talk­ing about, so there are also hand­fuls of quick tuto­ri­als with…let’s say alter­na­tive solu­tions to prob­lems; for exam­ple, 15 sec­onds of Lech­ler sim­ply stand­ing fac­ing the cor­ner of a room as a guide on how to extend your cell phone bat­tery. Over the arc of the sea­sons, the advice went from (most­ly) straight­for­ward, to a series of dis­as­trous or just plain psy­che­del­ic, expe­ri­ences. (Check out the hour-long video on fix­ing a bro­ken zip­per.)

The metic­u­lous­ly planned long game in the pro­gres­sion of Pro Tips is emblem­at­ic of Lechler’s over­all comedic pro­gres­sion and goals. Since the Michi­gan native – and cur­rent Aus­ti­nite – start­ed doing stand-up at the ripe age of 16, he’s been build­ing towards mak­ing it his one and only busi­ness. Absorb­ing shows like Pre­mi­um Blend, and influ­ences like Mitch Hed­berg, I under­stood that it was a career that peo­ple had; it wasn’t some­thing I nec­es­sar­i­ly aspired to yet.” Now that it’s the main part of his life, his sense of its nature has changed, say­ing I don’t think of com­e­dy as a career; it’s who I am.” 

I don’t think of com­e­dy as a career; it’s who I am.” Ron Lech­ler

Lech­ler is clear that there’s been a series of evo­lu­tions along the way. From the ear­ly Hed­berg-esque per­sona he tried on, to today, he’s rein­vent­ed him­self more than once. About 2 or 3 years ago [after get­ting his MFA] I threw away all of my mate­r­i­al,” he says of one of his turn­abouts. The co-host of Austin’s Cider House Rulz show­case found that a sort of meta-per­spec­tive, i.e. com­e­dy about com­e­dy, is some­thing that melds with his pas­sion of extract­ing humor from sophis­ti­cat­ed eye-wink­ing and good-natured toy­ing with the audience. 

As he relates some of his per­for­mance ideas to Valerie Lopez, it’s clear that Lech­ler puts as much effort into orches­trat­ing the expe­ri­ence as the mate­r­i­al” he’s deliv­er­ing. I like when com­e­dy can be about not what I’m say­ing, but what I’m doing,” he says, describ­ing pur­pose­ful­ly flub­bing lines, hid­ing behind the mic stand, and var­ied, sundry, and weird ways of enter­ing and exit­ing the stage. It might be a bit cliché to say Lech­ler is a comedian’s come­di­an”; I think I might go so far as to say he’s a comedian’s comedian’s comedian”…so meta that the com­e­dy is a study of com­e­dy itself.

It’s an expe­ri­ence that gets plen­ty of atten­tion for Lech­ler. His antics have earned him being called Denton’s (where he attend­ed school and per­formed) Most Thought­ful Jerk”. Putting his major in Radio, Tele­vi­sion & Film to use has got­ten him acco­lades from Vari­ety Mag­a­zine, who put him in their 110 Stu­dents to Watch for his doc­u­men­tary work on come­di­ans and com­e­dy. He’s taught a screen­writ­ing class at his uni­ver­si­ty; been unem­ployed in Chica­go for 8 months; and spent the cus­tom­ary indus­try time in Los Ange­les, where he worked on the Gold­en Globes, was a PA on a short-lived Nik­ki Glaser show, Jim Jeffries’s show, and worked – among oth­er things – as a tal­ent coor­di­na­tor on the amaz­ing @Midnight through its final episode. 

Seek­ing a break from the pace and envi­ron­ment of LA (“I didn’t real­ize how worn out I’d been”), the sis­ter city of com­e­dy (along with New York), Austin seemed like the per­fect choice. Led by an ini­tial oppor­tu­ni­ty to work on a tele­vi­sion series here, Lech­ler has since fos­tered or cre­at­ed so many expe­ri­ences, projects, and friend­ships here in the past 2 years that he’s not feel­ing any need to wing back to either of the Coasts. It’s a city – along with Den­ton – he’s shared at var­i­ous times with long­time friend and inspi­ra­tion Mar­tin Urbano. For Lech­ler, Austin is also a breath of fresh air, where stage time is more acces­si­ble, and peo­ple are infi­nite­ly more gen­uine in their rela­tion­ships than back west. 

It’s an envi­ron­ment con­ducive to iter­a­tion and, yes, evo­lu­tion, which we know is near and dear to Lech­ler. The most recent thing you’ve done should be the best thing you’ve done,” he says of his goal of con­stant improve­ment. With Cider House Rulz, he want­ed to cre­ate some­thing that wasn’t a tra­di­tion­al stand-up show­case, and instead focused on more of a com­e­dy vari­ety hour”. It’s yet anoth­er shade of his focus on push­ing the bound­aries of what peo­ple think of a com­e­dy experience. 

The most recent thing you’ve done should be the best thing you’ve done.” Ron Lech­ler

While he cre­at­ed and co-runs the show, he read­i­ly admits that some of the best moments come from when he lets go and allows the show to devel­op its own per­sona. It’s endem­ic even the way the show is booked, where half the per­form­ers are cho­sen by Lech­ler and Kather­ine Hutchins, and the oth­er half are invit­ed by the per­form­ers them­selves. For a show­case, where audi­ences can be noto­ri­ous­ly fick­le, this kind of thing could eas­i­ly be a kiss of death, but with the guid­ance and trust the hosts put in their per­form­ers, it all works won­der­ful­ly. (Of course, you can’t men­tion Rulz with­out a nod to Sand­box, the no-vet­ting, any­thing-goes, show­case run by amaz­ing com­ic, and Lechler’s friend, Rob Gagnon. It’s like train­ing at high alti­tude for com­e­dy,” Lech­ler says, and con­sid­ers them sis­ter shows” of a sort. )

Lech­ler has oth­er projects going, and in the works, putting his pro­duc­tion skills and eye for plan­ning to good use. On Hot Damn!, co-host­ed by Andrew Wag­n­er, per­form­ers spin a wheel fea­tur­ing hot pep­pers and have to per­form while fight­ing a dif­fer­ent kind of heat. He was tapped by Zach Peter­son to book a local edi­tion of the Chica­go-based show and pod­cast Argu­ments and Griev­ances, which pits comics against each oth­er in a form of com­e­dy debate. He’s also work­ing on a Twit­ter-based series where com­e­dy takes place in cars in traf­fic; you can fol­low it @RoadComicTV to get a head start on the first appear­ances. As if all that’s not enough, Lech­ler is also an accom­plished dig­i­tal artist, and you can see his comics and oth­er cre­ations at Ron​Lech​ler​.com.

Austin has giv­en Lech­ler a form of clar­i­ty” that he’s clear­ly grate­ful for, and it shows in what he gives back to the city. I’m kind of already get­ting out of com­e­dy any­thing I could real­ly want,” he says of the com­mu­ni­ty and the peo­ple he gets to sur­round him­self with. 

For a man who bases so much on reset­ting him­self, he sounds curi­ous­ly, and gra­cious­ly, satisfied. 

Stay up to date with Ron Lech­ler at Ron​Lech​ler​.com, fol­low him on social media, and catch him at these upcom­ing dates:

MORE ABOUT
Ron Lechler