Did Someone Call Derek Kopswa?

August 3, 2019

Photo Credit

Derek Kopswa

Interview by

Valerie Lopez

Article by

Richard Goodwin

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If the say­ing about the rose, by any oth­er name, has any truth to it, then this week’s guest has cer­tain­ly proven out the the­o­rem. You may know him by his lat­est moniker, Derek Kop­swa; the pre­vi­ous Derek Kop­szy­wa; or per­haps even his musi­cal alter ego: Drone Rivers. In case the pro­nun­ci­a­tion seems tricky, it’s quite easy: it sounds exact­ly like Joan Rivers”. Oh, and Kop­swa”, as he says in his act, is as if some­one asked did some­one call the cops…whaaaat?”.

Like his semi abun­dant coterie of names, Kop­swa has also seen his way through mul­ti­ple pas­sions while grow­ing up in his native Mis­sis­sip­pi. For a while he focused on a goal of mak­ing movies, decid­ing to eschew a degree pro­gram in favor of spend­ing the mon­ey on equip­ment and projects instead. Sprin­kled through­out this, he con­tin­ued to build his love of music, and start­ed tak­ing notice of the com­e­dy world. So, a bit of this and that, as Kop­swa decid­ed to explore what­ev­er pop­u­lar or obscure pur­suit struck him, even if he was the only one around get­ting deeply into it; he jokes that I was the only…’a lot of weird things’ in high school.” In the here and now, Kop­swa is def­i­nite­ly no longer in the minor­i­ty of his pre­ferred genre. In the last year or so, he’s been the co-host (with Ash­ley Over­ton) for two main­stays at Kick Butt Cof­fee: the Wednes­day night open mic, and the show­case Turnt. Those are inter­spersed with co-host­ing the pod­cast Star­ring Ryan Gosling, and he still finds the time to put out music under that unfor­get­table pseu­do­nym, Drone Rivers. His love of music also had him pre­vi­ous­ly host­ing a pod­cast called You Heard?, and it was actu­al­ly the South by South­west Music fes­ti­val that first drew him to Austin, has­ten­ing his relo­ca­tion here in 2015. Get­ting here was easy, but stay­ing proved a hell of an adven­ture, with botched paper­work and a series of set­backs leav­ing Kop­swa vir­tu­al­ly with­out a place to live. In a bid for some relief, he decid­ed to try his first open mic that night, and it seemed the uni­verse still had some oomph left to kick him a bit more. As you can tell by now, Kop­swa per­se­vered, and is now a fix­ture in the Austin com­e­dy scene and ready for new chal­lenges. He recent­ly hand­ed the Kick Butt open mic host­ing reigns to Sawyer Stull. The month­ly Turnt has been run­ning for two years, filled with music both for enter­ing per­form­ers, and through­out the show. While it is on break, it will return this fall, hope­ful­ly in a down­town venue. Throw in the pod­cast Star­ring Ryan Gosling (if only), which has guests pon­der­ing which movies should be remade, and what role the tit­u­lar actor would play, he found him­self in con­stant motion for quite some time, build­ing, refin­ing, and delivering. 

If you can say so much with so little…it’s a real­ly fun chal­lenge” Derek Kop­swa

(Kop­swa even has an IMDB cred­it to his name; trust me, just lis­ten to the inter­view to hear him do jus­tice to the ori­gin sto­ry, and what befell one very unfor­tu­nate script binder.) I’ve slowed down a lot…I feel like I can take a breather,” Kop­swa says of his cur­rent sit­u­a­tion; and that ethos has found its way into his com­e­dy as well. If you’ve seen him per­form, you know he cer­tain­ly can tell sto­ries, but also has a spe­cial gift for punc­tu­at­ing his set with sharp one lin­ers. It’s a tal­ent he’s proud of, hav­ing honed the method while find­ing a way to always be able to pull through a laugh even in dif­fi­cult per­for­mance sit­u­a­tions. If you can say so much with so little…it’s a real­ly fun chal­lenge,” he says, and con­struct­ing them just right is its own kind of quest: I feel like every sen­tence of a joke…should count.” 

I feel like every sen­tence of a joke…should count.” Derek Kop­swa

And mak­ing things count is very much a guid­ing prin­ci­ple for Kop­swa right now. Bal­anc­ing his var­i­ous cre­ative out­lets and shows takes a toll, and he’s look­ing for ways to improve them and maybe even tran­si­tion some of the work­load. There’s also a new day job in his future, a wed­ding to our won­der­ful pre­vi­ous guest Hol­li Cuo­mo, and hope­ful­ly some mini-tours to spread the Nasty Virus”, as he refers to his com­e­dy. If the Virus catch­es on (ahem), that means fes­ti­vals and oth­er oppor­tu­ni­ties might not be far behind. At this point, we have to ask if a move is in the future, and luck­i­ly for us the answer is no”, although Kop­swa does posit that any num­ber of unlike­ly sce­nar­ios could hap­pen, includ­ing becom­ing Milkwaukee’s hottest com­e­dy cou­ple. With Kop­swa and Cuo­mo, it’s a pow­er­ful punch of sto­ry and stinger, so I sus­pect wher­ev­er they are, they’re going to make a splash. And Derek, if you’re still into mak­ing movies, I think Kop­swa and Cuo­mo is the per­fect title for a bud­dy cop com­e­dy; just be care­ful where you put the script. Catch Derek Kop­swa at these upcom­ing shows: 

  • 83: Bone Rat­tle at the Volstead
  • 84: Com­e­dy Resis­tance at Native Hostel
  • 86: per­form­ing at Radio Coffee

Lis­ten to his first full-length Drone Rivers album on Band­camp.

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