George Anthony: Enjoying Being Wrong

November 24, 2019

Photo Credit

George Anthony

Interview by

Valerie Lopez

Article by

Richard Goodwin

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It’s a tricky line to walk when putting your fam­i­ly into a sto­ry as the butt of a joke, but this week’s guest, George Antho­ny, han­dles it with ease. Whether it’s the tale he spins of an alter­ca­tion in a movie the­ater, or of a good friend’s pass­ing, his rapid fire spikes and asides take the audi­ence from quick intakes of breath to laugh­ter before they have time to even notice the misdirection.

While Antho­ny built his chops in his native San Anto­nio scene, he’s now been with us in Austin for over a year, and hav­ing worked in both gives him the ben­e­fit of expe­ri­enc­ing the two very dif­fer­ent kinds of audi­ences the cities host. Born into a mil­i­tary fam­i­ly, he also spent time in his youth in Ger­many, Paris, and oth­er Euro­pean climes, fol­low­ing the pat­tern of set­tling and uproot­ing that comes with that lifestyle. 

It’s almost a per­fect train­ing ground for com­e­dy, as any class clown will tell you; if you can get a laugh, it helps reset an unfa­mil­iar or threat­en­ing sce­nario, and, for a kid hop­ping from school to school, it’s an invalu­able skill. That kind of life also tends to height­en the fam­i­ly dynam­ic, and Antho­ny recalls that his par­ents also trend­ed to hilar­i­ty, in what won­ders might have been a sim­i­lar cop­ing mech­a­nism. He jokes that they trend­ed mean” in their humor, but that I think being mean is fun­ny some­times, to say the thing that no one’s sup­posed to say.” 

I think being mean is funny sometimes, to say the thing that no one’s supposed to say.
George Anthony

Antho­ny also sly­ly jabs that his par­ents weren’t right”, but that being wrong isn’t as dan­ger­ous as he feels peo­ple make it out to be. The co-host of the Will­ful Igno­rance pod­cast feels that peo­ple are scared to look, well, igno­rant, instead of rec­og­niz­ing that every­one has the oppor­tu­ni­ty to be cor­rect­ed and edu­cat­ed. He came to stand-up after a divorce, and – hav­ing grown up watch­ing icons like Eddie Mur­phy and Chris Rock, and attend­ing live com­e­dy shows in San Anto­nio – saw the mic as a way to just breathe,” and get out of the real­i­ty of the situation. 

To this day, Antho­ny describes the expe­ri­ence of step­ping on the stage as a Zen-like depres­sion”, a dis­con­nec­tion from his cur­rent real­i­ty, the exact kind of dis­con­nec­tion he was seek­ing. The iso­la­tion of the stage is also a good metaphor for his view on pro­gress­ing in com­e­dy, say­ing that cer­tain­ly there is pow­er in net­work­ing and favors, but that ulti­mate­ly, progress and suc­cess come from a relent­less pur­suit of refin­ing your mate­r­i­al and deliv­ery. The famil­ial movie the­ater sto­ry I men­tioned ear­li­er is a great exam­ple: Antho­ny describes to Valerie Lopez the process of refin­ing it over the years from 30 min­utes down to the tight 6 min­utes required for his mul­ti­ple Fun­ni­est Per­son in Austin appear­ances (where he made it to the Semi­fi­nals in 2019). He also eschews the tra­di­tion­al tool of many comics, the note­book, say­ing instead he writes on stage”, feel­ing that oth­er­wise he’d be attempt­ing to cre­ate in a vac­u­um. I’m like a kamikaze pilot, just wait­ing to see which ship I’ll blow up,” he jokes about his process, at the same time con­stant­ly think­ing How can I bet­ter com­mu­ni­cate [this topic]”. 

I’m like a kamikaze pilot, just waiting to see which ship I’ll blow up.
George Anthony

Find­ing the right medi­um can also be key to fram­ing a top­ic, jokes or oth­er­wise, and Antho­ny hasn’t hes­i­tat­ed to try out his share. With friend Josh Cabaza, he start­ed work­ing on video sketch­es, which ulti­mate­ly turned into the recur­ring com­pe­ti­tion Bat­tle of the Sketch­es. The event takes entries from across the world, and pits them against each oth­er in a live Bat­tle Royale” tour in mul­ti­ple cities, with judges and audi­ences pick­ing the win­ners. With com­peti­tors world­wide enter­ing, it’s become an event with ever-grow­ing renown. 

Will­ful Igno­rance is anoth­er per­fect exam­ple of that explo­ration, with Antho­ny and Cabaza host­ing come­di­ans like for­mer CW guest Raul Sanchez, and, recent­ly, the always unpre­dictable Bob­by Lee. With a rep­u­ta­tion for spon­ta­neous­ly get­ting naked, and test­ing the bound­aries of his audi­ences and hosts, Lee always pos­es a unique chal­lenge. Lee didn’t dis­ap­point in his inter­ac­tions with Antho­ny and the episode, flash­ing pho­tos of his recent­ly deceased father after inno­cent­ly offer­ing to show pic­tures of his fam­i­ly”. True to form, Antho­ny adapt­ed and took it in stride. 

The ded­i­ca­tion that Antho­ny has put into his pur­suits con­tin­ue to pay off, with oppor­tu­ni­ties like head­lin­ing at The Velv and PUNCH (Cap City Com­e­dy, Tues­days). The sto­ry­telling show OnsLaught he helped cre­ate land­ed him appear­ances on PBS’s Come­di­ans on Come­di­ans, and he even has a car­toon project. Called Blair and the Bear, and def­i­nite­ly not for kids, Antho­ny and Cabaza sub­mit­ted it for Com­e­dy Cen­tral and Adult Swim line­ups. You can see Blair, episodes of Will­ful Igno­rance, and Bat­tle of the Sketch­es at the pair’s YouTube Chan­nel, FMCW Stu­dios.

Antho­ny is def­i­nite­ly on a run, well-deserved, and is look­ing for­ward to a bright future. With the afore­men­tioned projects, and upcom­ing events like his PUNCH appear­ance on Nov 26th, and Doug Benson’s New Years Show, it’s clear that audi­ences have made up their mind about him: being wrong is some­times the absolute best way to get things right. 

See more of George Antho­ny at: 

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