Symply Courtney is Always There

April 19, 2020

Photo Credit

Aaron Suarez

Interview by

Valerie Lopez

Article by

Valerie Lopez

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It's a new era in the world of podcasting, and I'll admit, I miss being able to sit across the table from my comedy guests. I held out for a bit and then realized if we want to keep bringing some of our favorite comedians to your tablet, phone, podcast app, we have to move forward. So, instead of sitting across the table, I sat across the screen from cheerleader extraordinaire Symply Courtney. After you give the podcast a listen, it's not "Symply Courtney", but rather SYMPLY ........ COURTNEY, cheered loudly, maybe with a clap along the way, much in the way Courtney leads audiences in chanting his name (live, and more recently, virtual).

And that is the energy that Courtney brings to many things. From his positive social media presence, to his million watt smile, Courtney admits "if I've been able to inspire anything, that's great." From the recent spate of comics that are homegrown here in Austin, Courtney stands out. He didn't always know he wanted to be a comic. Sure, he was comfortable speaking in front of classes, but inspiration didn't strike until a job in parks and rec (those things with trees, benches, and slides, not the show) and in the course of organizing activities for kids, he came up with the idea of a talent show of sorts. He acknowledged, in that very Art Linkletter way, that kids say the darndest (and funniest) things and wanted the kids to channel that into a stage show. When kicking that off, the bug bit Courtney and the urge to perform settled in. It would still take several years before he tackled his first open mic.

If I've been able to inspire anything, that's great.
Symply Courtney

A series of events in his personal life made standup comedy an escape from the harsh realities of a dissolving marriage and the logistics of divorce taking up his time. And in that moment, despite the distance and the flatness of a screen, I connected with Courtney. For him, divorce was the impetus to turn his urge to do comedy into action, while for me, divorce was the impetus to watch as much comedy as I could. Therapy, each in their own way. But connection is so very important to what Courtney does on stage. If you watch the handful of videos available on his Youtube channel, connection with his audience is a hallmark. But it wasn't always so.

While Courtney did his time of working through open mics, for a period of time, he allowed himself to fall under the influence of freely given comedic advice. We explore this during our talk and it is hard to discern whether this is just a standard part of comedy "training", or whether he was being given explicit advice to not be himself, to fit into some mold that Austin comedy has set for itself. We will never know, but we can acknowledge that sometimes heeding advice can delay the blossom that is inevitable.

After a few years, Courtney realized he could take some advice and leave some advice, but he had gained enough confidence to start establishing on stage who he was. And if it didn't fit a mold, that's ok, it fit him. This allowed him the breathing room to realize he wasn't competing with anyone anymore. Of that revelation, Courtney says "That's something (that) took me a long time to get out from under this idea that you're competing against everybody." And we can all be thankful. Another thing we can be thankful for is that Courtney always seems to be there. Where ever "there" is. In fact, that's how he got his place in the vaunted improv troupe Sugar Water Purple. And it's how he greeted me soon after Last Gas handed the keys to the Austin live comedy calendar to Comedy Wham -- yelling "thank you" from across the street after a Fallout Theater show.

That's something (that) took me a long time to get out from under this idea that you're competing against everybody.
Symply Courtney

Courtney continues to push himself in unique ways. For his 2 last birthdays, he chose to celebrate by organizing roasts for himself. And for his birthday earlier this year (you know, when live shows were a thing), he challenged himself to perform 30 shows in 30 days leading up to his birthday. He accomplished 34 with dutiful planning, significant wear and tear on his vehicle, and a determination to meet his goal. And now that live show environments are (temporarily) non-existent, Courtney is jumping into virtual shows. He adapted his live show interactive experience to the stay at home environment for Isolation Comedy (a show Comedy Wham produces) with perfection. And that's what you can expect from Courtney. He will adapt, he will stay true to himself and he will make you learn his name. Say it with me, errr, chant it with me. SYMPLY ........ COURTNEY ......... SYMPLY ......... COURTNEY.

Symply Courtney can be seen:

  • On video at his Youtube channel
  • Listen to his podcast Black & Tan
  • Fallout Storytime - 4/20 9:30pm on twitch.tv/falloutcomedy

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