Brian Gendron - Building a Legacy

March 26, 2021

Photo Credit

Drew Jordan

Interview by

Valerie Lopez

Article by

Valerie Lopez

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Imagine a campfire setting in the woods of New Hampshire (complete with s'mores, if we're honest) with friends gathered around the fire. Now imagine a guitar and songs all helmed by a young Brian Gendron. Taking regular songs and turning them into parodies to entertain the friends gathered. Now, put a pin in this vision because we'll come back to it. This is Gendron's first memory that came to mind about something funny he remembered from his earlier days.

Mix in some misguided distractions, and fast forward to a serendipitous move to Houston because it was the winning city in the debate about the most livable city between he and his now-wife about where to settle for her work. (Full disclosure, as an Austin based comedy entity, we clearly would have made a different choice).

As Gendron settled into Houston living, he turned his new home into a playground for his business. He joined Toastmasters (an organization that yours truly has long been a member of), and used what he learned there--combined with his marketing experience--into valuable skills for organizing corporate events. The learnings, plus a bit of chance, resulted one day into Gendron taking a 5 minute stroll to a comedy venue: his first attempt at performing standup.

One of the things he learned during Toastmasters is the skill of evaluation. In the formal sense of Toastmasters, an evaluator provides an encouraging, specific, and helpful critique of a speaker's speech. Ideally, the speaker adopts the suggestions for improvement and continues on a trajectory of improvement. I mention this because Gendron spoke of having just recently rewatched that very first set so he can measure his improvement in the time since. A dedicated student of comedy does this routinely, but Gendron shares a tip I've never heard before - study a particular joke you're working on for at least 3 different sets, to evaluate what works over time and to make necessary tweaks.

Using this forward looking, self-improvement ethos, Gendron has made good work of his 2 years (yeah, I couldn't believe it either) as a standup comic. Racking up a Katy Comedy Festival winner accomplishment, and 2019 semi-finalist spot in the Funniest Comic in Texas competition, Gendron was a "winner", but he wanted more. Producing shows came naturally with his vast experience organizing corporate events, so The Riot was born. If you take a look at the Comedy Wham event calendar for Houston, you can see the show is bringing top talent to Houston; creating a good experience for audiences is key to this success, Gendron says.

All of these endeavors point to Gendron being a leader and steward in the Houston comedy scene, and of this he says "There's a need for leadership in the comedy scene" and that can be seen in any city. Any thriving comedy scene needs players who know how to treat comics and audiences with respect and with their best interest at hearts. It is not a leadership of one, either, it is a leadership of many that can guide a scene.

...if you focus on the audience experience, they will come back, they will tell friends, and you will win in the marketplace, and you will give the comics the audiences that they want to perform in front of.
Brian Gendron

Gendron spends a lot of time thinking about philanthropy, and for several years he melded comedy events with fundraisers for local charities. Due to Covid, he put a pause on his largest fundraising event, HaHa for Hope, last fall, but has his eyes set on a relaunch in late 2021. The event has raised over $14,000 for non-profit organizations focused on children. Keep an eye out for that - you can be sure Gendron will be a promotion machine for the good cause.

Did Gendron rest on his laurels during the pandemic? No, of course he didn't. He launched a podcast, Breaking Down Bits where he and co-host Drew Jordan talk to comics breaking down the writing and performance elements of standup. At 24 episodes young, you can easily binge listen and learn a lot about how different comics approach standup. With still more time to fill during Covid, Gendron also launched an online mic, where comics from around the world gather to get feedback on their writing, and create a sense of global community.

Besides a strong forward trajectory, Gendron is about leaving a positive legacy, whether it's for his kids, the Houston comedy scene, his fundraising events, or whatever else he sets his sights on. He even helped kick off a new "legacy" for Comedy Wham. On a recent trip to Austin, someone on Facebook alerted him to the Comedy Wham events calendar and he replied with "I wish there was something like that for Houston." Being opportunistic as well, I started talking to Gendron and--along with our great web guru Richard Goodwin--we launched the Houston events calendar. So, Houston, you can thank Gendron for having a single place to see what shows and open mics are happening around town.

...the legacy that I leave behind that has become increasingly more important and then also for my own children, my own kids, and really anybody that I come in contact with, I want to figure out a way that I've left some level of positive impact on our life.
Brian Gendron

We have little doubt that Gendron will reach more and more successful heights no matter what he takes on. If the last 2 years is any indication, if his quest for self-improvement is any signal, if his generosity with children-mission oriented non-profits is any clue, there will be more from him in the near future. You might even hear a hint of it during the podcast.

While his gatherings have grown up from the cozy campfire settings of his early days, you can rest assured that the warm welcome, laughs, and feeling of being with a close friend who nurtures the fire, have all been part of Gendron's success and will continue to do so. All we ask is for some s'mores.

Brian Gendron can be seen and heard:

  • The Riot Standup Comedy Show
  • Breaking Down Bits Podcast

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