Teddy Margas Was Born With It

August 9, 2021

Photo Credit

Teddy Margas

Interview by

Valerie Lopez

Article by

Sara Cline

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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.

Every­body has their own com­e­dy ori­gin sto­ry — kind of like super­heroes. Some get into com­e­dy from radioac­tive spi­der bites… some are aliens from destroyed plan­ets… a few were bil­lion­aire orphans raised by their but­lers. But Ted­dy Mar­gas? Ted­dy was born with it.

I was an actor from birth, lit­er­al­ly,” Mar­gas says. He recounts a sto­ry that his moth­er prob­a­bly loves to tell time and time again: It was Margas’s due date, his moth­er had been in labor all day, and it was get­ting close to mid­night. Then, The Tonight Show Star­ring John­ny Car­son comes on the deliv­ery room TV. The theme music plays, and Mar­gas comes out from back­stage (the green womb, if you will) right on cue at 11:31 PM.

Of course, it helps when com­e­dy is in your blood. My dad was always the guy at the hol­i­day par­ties who… came with a joke or two,” Mar­gas explains. Grant­ed, they were corny or inap­pro­pri­ate or dirty. But he was known for that.” Margas’s mother’s side of the fam­i­ly was equal­ly sat­u­rat­ed with just con­stant, con­stant humor,” which he soaked up like a sponge… or my dad’s expen­sive wood floor… or a super­size fem­i­nine san­i­tary prod­uct. What­ev­er absorbent sim­i­le you want, real­ly. He hear­kens back to an espe­cial­ly vivid mem­o­ry: He was at the nick­el movie the­ater with his Aunt Estelle, when the mar­quee for some odd rea­son was show­ing Mask” but also Mask with Cher” on two dif­fer­ent screens. When the atten­dant asked which movie she want­ed to see, she respond­ed, The oth­er kids want it with Cher. Can I get Cher on the side?”

You pret­ty much know how school went down for him after that: class clown, go-to guy for comedic roles in plays, all of that. Then he was off to study act­ing. Duh. But stand-up? Stand-up took a lit­tle longer to find. It only real­ly began to per­co­late when some dis­en­chant­ment with act­ing began to crop up. It wasn’t the act­ing that was the prob­lem, though; it was the fact that only so many audi­tions result in an actu­al role to work on. Ted­dy yearned to be cre­ative­ly chal­lenged on a more reg­u­lar basis. Of course, when his peers pro­vid­ed the obvi­ous answer (stand-up), Mar­gas recoiled. I was like, Oh, there’s no way,’” he rec­ol­lects, “… I need a script; I need to ana­lyze it; I need to take it apart; I need to find the char­ac­ter.” And that was that, for a while.

Fast for­ward a bit and, some­how or anoth­er, Mar­gas found him­self sit­ting in a job worlds away from act­ing or stand-up: orga­niz­ing pam­phlets at a trav­el agency. Did your heart just sink read­ing that? Mine too. Sim­ply going through the motions, he wasn’t struck by the real­i­ty of it until a few months in, when a cus­tomer called and asked to speak to a trav­el agent. And I said, Oh, I’m a trav­el agent,’ and when I heard it, I thought, How the heck am I a trav­el agent?’” Mar­gas exclaims, Like, what? How did this hap­pen?’” He gave his two weeks’ notice that same day.

Stand-up embodies everything. [It] embodies being a writer. It embodies acting. It embodies producing, promoting.
Teddy Margas

Final­ly, the trav­el agency scare gave him the kick in the pants he need­ed; he was ready to try stand-up. When he got on stage, he couldn’t believe he had wait­ed so long. He rel­ished the free­dom of hav­ing absolute con­trol over the whole thing; he was the per­former, script-writer, and direc­tor. Even now, Mar­gas stead­fast­ly asserts, Stand-up embod­ies every­thing. [It] embod­ies being a writer. It embod­ies act­ing. It embod­ies pro­duc­ing, pro­mot­ing.” He was so enthralled that he set his sights sin­gu­lar­ly on com­e­dy, leav­ing act­ing by the way­side, but then the two serendip­i­tous­ly coa­lesced as direc­tors began to approach him for roles because of his com­e­dy. Of course, there’s room for both worlds inside a per­son­al­i­ty as big as his.

Hear­ing all of this, you would think that Mar­gas was total­ly in his ele­ment and lov­ing every minute on stage. You’ll be sur­prised to hear this, then: My favorite part of doing com­e­dy was when it was over,” Mar­gas recalls. It was just so ter­ri­fy­ing to me… [I had to tell myself,] it’s only for three min­utes… for five min­utes… for sev­en min­utes. Just get through it.’” When it was over, there was the com­fort­ing sen­sa­tion of cer­tain­ty again — he knew imme­di­ate­ly if he’d done well or not. Even more, he loved when peo­ple would come up to him like a receiv­ing line in a wed­ding,” to talk to him about a joke they’d loved or that real­ly res­onat­ed with them.

It wasn’t until five or six years ago that he couldn’t wait to hit the stage and didn’t want to leave once he was up there. It takes a long time to find your stage legs, your voice,” he remarks. They have to know who you are with­in the first 30 sec­onds,” he explains, “…either by how you took the mic or… the first thing that you said.” But once you know exact­ly who you are on stage, you become like a fine-tuned, well-oiled machine,” Mar­gas says.

For­tu­nate­ly for us, Mar­gas was quite hap­py to dish to Valerie about his expe­ri­ences work­ing with Joan Rivers on Fash­ion Police, even though he’s prob­a­bly been asked a thou­sand times. It was my favorite job I’ve ever had,” he gush­es, even though he had to be up at 4:30 AM for each show. To watch her work, I learned so much from her. And she was such a will­ing teacher, and loved com­e­dy and loved comics… She taught me how to be the star.” He almost talked him­self out of the gig though, due to the stig­ma that warm up roles are for comics who couldn’t hack it. But not only did he learn immense­ly, it also opened doors for him in cast­ing offices. Cast­ing direc­tors would stop to ask What was work­ing with Joan Rivers like?” which was pret­ty astound­ing, since audi­tions are usu­al­ly a very cut and dry process: You read and you leave. Hav­ing those extra few min­utes to answer that ques­tion and make an impres­sion was tru­ly a game chang­er for him.

My goal is to make people laugh. That said, if I'm making you laugh, I've achieved my goal. If that happens to be in a college, if that happens to be in an audience for another comic, if that happens to be the opener… I don't care.
Teddy Margas

Now, Mar­gas is res­olute in his posi­tion: My goal is to make peo­ple laugh. That said, if I’m mak­ing you laugh, I’ve achieved my goal. If that hap­pens to be in a col­lege, if that hap­pens to be in an audi­ence for anoth­er com­ic, if that hap­pens to be the open­er… I don’t care.” In fact, he’s got a bag full of Ted­dys in his head for every occa­sion. He can deliv­er medi­um lev­el Ted­dy as an open­er, or full throt­tle Ted­dy as a head­lin­er, and he’ll glad­ly walk the bal­anc­ing act for any­thing in between, feed­ing off the audience’s ener­gy all the while.

Hear­ing him speak, you don’t have to hear him say it explic­it­ly (though he will), you can hear it in his voice: He loves what he does. I don’t see it as work because I love it so much,” he says sim­ply. His pas­sion and com­mit­ment to his work is so grandiose that he’s missed birth­days, funer­als, wed­dings — even his own brother’s wed­ding. I’ve missed a lot,” Mar­gas reck­ons, and there will be times when I’m like, Oh, did I make the right deci­sion?’ … Yes, I made the right deci­sion, because I’m hap­py.” Don’t wor­ry though, he still lis­tened to the wed­ding via his cell phone as he made his way to his call­back audi­tion. He’s not heart­less, you know; he’s just ded­i­cat­ed and loves what he does. (And he’s worked with the likes of RuPaul and Joan Rivers, so can you real­ly blame him?)

These days, you can catch him telling Ted­dy Tales” every Tues­day and Thurs­day on Insta­gram Live ­— which he says are essen­tial­ly lit­tle sto­ries from my big gay life,” and he’s on Tik Tok! We’ll def­i­nite­ly be tun­ing in to lis­ten; we just hope he doesn’t get bit by any radioac­tive spi­ders because he’s already way too super-pow­ered as it is.

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

Ted­dy’s rec­om­men­da­tions for comics to check out from LA include: Per­cy Rus­tomji, Matt Marr, Oscar Aydin, and Gus Constantellis

If you’re in LA, Ted­dy rec­om­mends of course check­ing out the vari­ety of shows (it’s huge, almost too huge, in his words), but if you’re a com­ic and you’re reluc­tant to make the move to LA, as the ad cam­paign goes just do it” he says. He says that comics who come to LA can find their nich­es as long as they keep an open mind and do the work. And impor­tant­ly, be yourself!

Fol­low Teddy


Ted­dy can be seen and heard:

  • Ted­dy Tales on Insta­gram Live every Tues­day & Thu Live (5pm PDT)
  • Ted­dy & The Empress (Cook­ing the Queens) Podcast
  • Film/​TV/​Movies — Lethal Weapon (2016), Miss 2059 (2016), Beast Mode (2020), Per­sianal­i­ty (TV Series 2019); Fash­ion Police (2014); AJ & The Queen (Net­flix)
  • Com­e­dy Per­for­mances — Catch him at the Com­e­dy Store, Laugh Fac­to­ry, and the Improv 
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Teddy Margas