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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