Daniel Eachus Puts His Foot in All the Doors

July 26, 2021

Photo Credit

David Carlson

Interview by

Valerie Lopez

Article by

Sara Cline

2021 Summer Vacation Series

Destination - Los Angeles, California

The world is in the midst of a host of debuts, including the blinding sight of faces that haven’t seen true sunlight for many months, poking out of doors and taking the cautious first steps back into the great outside.
It’s only fitting that we debut something of our own for the podcast: the 2021 Summer Vacation Series. While we’re in no way on vacation, the theme speaks more to that most summer-y of concepts, traveling to new places near and far. Many of our guests are local to Austin, but during the pandemic we had the honor of “hosting” comics from around the world on our Isolation Comedy series, and the Vacation Series is our way of bringing them back for the full Comedy Wham interview treatment.

If you’ve ever watched those TV segments that feature extremely precocious children, you’ve probably experienced that uniquely strange mixture of amazement, jealousy, and a splash of self-deprecation. (How come I didn’t have the periodic table memorized when I was four years old, Mom?) Well, lucky for our collective self-esteem, our guest Daniel Eachus made no such claims of child genius in his interview, but he was clearly a young talent.

Thanks to an early (fifth grade!) start at guitar, Eachus was in a rock band by the seventh grade. (Why didn’t I pick up an instrument in elementary school, Mom? … What’s that? Because I chose to do choir instead? Oh, right. Okay, I gotta go, Mom, I’m writing an article.) By the time he was in high school, Eachus was itching to get even better guitar chops, so he joined the jazz band. At the risk of sounding like a Disney Channel Original Movie, Eachus relents that they were “a ragtag group of kids in high school who didn't know anything about jazz and just wanted to get better.”

And get better they did, winning first place in competitions all across California, playing at Disneyland, and even getting to make a CD. And though he did not realize it quite yet, these performances were planting the seed that would germinate into his illustrious comedy career. Eachus reflects, “[Jazz band] taught me that something that I wrote in my bedroom could be performed on a stage and people would enjoy it.”

[Jazz band] taught me that something that I wrote in my bedroom could be performed on a stage and people would enjoy it.
Daniel Eachus

Eachus was also on the daily bulletin in high school. (Why didn’t my high school have a daily bulletin?) But halfway through his junior year, he was getting some major daily-bulletin ennui. He pitched to his teacher the idea of being a field reporter instead; he’d report on absurd, silly, unimportant things and turn them into news. Essentially, Eachus found a way to do sketch comedy and get school credit for it. Between jazz band and the daily bulletin (and landing the lead role in a comedic play), stand-up just began to make sense. So, he went out to a local open mic, right? … He went out to a local open mic, right? (Please tell me you’re picturing the Clueless Padme meme.)

Actually, his first stand-up performance was at a going-away-for-college party in his friend’s backyard. So, he probably performed for around five minutes, right? Try 45. Having only ever seen hour specials on TV, he simply assumed that’s what stand-up was. Most prominently, Eachus recalls how he made all their parents laugh that night. That small victory was everything. He recalls thinking, “‘Maybe there is something to this. Maybe I can do this.’”

Once he went to Long Beach State and attended his first open mic, he realized what an overachiever he’d unknowingly been. But with 45 minutes of material to draw from, he had a leg up at putting together his first tight five. Eachus began to study up, too, watching local comedy shows and reading comedian autobiographies from his local library. “I felt like that taught me way more than anything else could have … just [to learn] how all these famous people got into [comedy], and what their struggles were.” He was especially impacted by Steve Martin’s Born Standing Up. An alum of Eachus’s own Long Beach State, Martin described writing jokes on his way to classes, and Eachus felt as though he was standing in Martin’s shoes. Doing stand-up didn’t feel so fantastical or far-fetched. It felt real, tangible, attainable. “I could do this. Steve did this exact same thing,” he recalls thinking to himself.

I've never felt … pigeonholed to [only] do this one thing … Anything that I feel like I could adapt to what I like, I’ll do it, [whether] it's acting or writing a book. All of it.
Daniel Eachus

And a little luck helped him along the way: When he went home to Fresno for the summer, he thought he’d be forced on hiatus by the dearth of comedy there. But, incidentally, local restaurant Thai Palms began putting on comedy shows, and the desolate comedy scene turned in his favor: Because everyone was completely green, three-months-in Eachus was considered a comedy veteran. And as Thai Palms grew into its own comedy club of sorts, Eachus started getting feature spots for L.A. headliners. “It grew me like crazy,” he says.

Inspired by the biographies he’d devoured in college, Eachus eventually felt it was time to turn the page to his next chapter, so he released his comedy album, followed by a DryBar Comedy special the following year. When asked about his choice to do clean comedy, Eachus first mentions his grandma, who didn’t seem to like his stray cuss or two in his performances. He challenged himself, then, to write cleaner. Not out of moral objection, but rather to distill the jokes, making them stand on their own without reliance on swears. Plus, Eachus states, “I've always pushed myself to try to be universal and try to find a way to make everybody laugh.”

His most recent chapter was a bit of a surprise. While cleaning his house during quarantine 2020, he found some comedic short stories that he had written ten years prior. Taking it upon himself to tighten them up, he started to get even more ideas, leading to around 50-odd stories. He then brought a talented friend on board to illustrate the stories, and they self-published A Day at the Zoo in 2062. “I was determined to do it in 2020. So actually, [it] was New Year's Eve night … [I] press[ed] send on [the] order form to get all these books ordered, because I was determined to say that I wrote a book in 2020.”

Most of all, Eachus attributes the materialization of his many accomplishments—from his stand-up, to acting, to writing a book—to his outlook. “I've always just had the mentality of, ‘you have to put your foot into a million doors, and let's see what stays open,’” he explains. As for what he might do next, it’s intriguingly open-ended (with maybe some big theatrical projects in the works). At the heart of it, Eachus asserts that he’s simply “a fan of comedy.” He continues, “I've never felt … pigeonholed to [only] do this one thing … Anything that I feel like I could adapt to what I like, I’ll do it, [whether] it's acting or writing a book. All of it.”

We are excited to see what Eachus will write into his current and future chapters. (And we’ll try not to feel too bad about ourselves when his autobiography describes his precocious childhood.)

Want to know more about comedy in Los Angeles, California?

Daniel's recommendations for comics to check out from LA include: JC Currais, James Frey, and Samuel J Comroe.

If you're in LA and you're reading this, you already know that LA is one of the biggest comedy scenes in the country - there's something for every taste. In fact, Daniel suggests getting a bit out of the hub of LA and head south to Orange County which has a lot of great shows to offer with a lot of young up and coming comics. La Cave in Costa Mesa, The Rec Room in Huntington Beach, and the Irvine Improv are destinations to check out. As he tells it, Orange County is where you go for stage time and LA is where you go to network and meet people.

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Daniel Eachus