The Surprising Adventures of Dylan Sullivan

December 14, 2021

Photo Credit

Dylan Sullivan

Interview by

Valerie Lopez

Article by

Valerie Lopez

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Being like­able affords a per­son the abil­i­ty to make mis­takes (maybe not mur­der or defac­ing your friend­ly pub­lic library…please don’t do either of those) and still main­tain a like­able rep­u­ta­tion. The worst thing that might hap­pen if you make a social faux pas, if you’re a lik­able sort, is hav­ing to deal with wet carrots. 

This is the fate of our guest Dylan Sul­li­van. In the sto­ry arch of his life since dis­cov­er­ing the com­e­dy pro­fes­sion, Sul­li­van has thrown him­self ful­ly into the art. I inten­tion­al­ly say dis­cov­er­ing the com­e­dy pro­fes­sion” because that’s how it all began for Sul­li­van. It’s an incred­i­ble sto­ry, and we’ve heard a lot of incred­i­ble sto­ries here at Com­e­dy Wham.

The way Sul­li­van explains it to Valerie Lopez, it start­ed when he answered an ad for an assis­tant in Los Ange­les, and head­ed to 8433 Sun­set Boule­vard for his inter­view. The psy­cho­log­i­cal games began imme­di­ate­ly: from see­ing the per­son being inter­viewed pri­or to his sched­uled inter­view time; to being pre­sent­ed with… checks notes… a bowl of wet car­rots; to the inter­view­er being sur­prised that he was­n’t imme­di­ate­ly rec­og­nized by his eager, but like­able candidate.

I can reveal now that, hav­ing watched Sul­li­van on stage a hand­ful of times since his move to Austin in ear­ly 2021, it makes per­fect sense that he land­ed the job because of his like­abil­i­ty (and an impend­ing film school cred­it from Chica­go). Between his friend­ly nature and his inim­itable laugh (you’ll hear plen­ty of both through­out the con­ver­sa­tion), it’s easy to see why Pauly Shore inter­viewed Sul­li­van from his main office at The Com­e­dy Store and gave him the job. Being unflap­pable by a bowl of wet car­rots can pay off!

Comedy has a really magic way of just, whenever you feel like you're the shit, of just smacking you down in your place again.
Dylan Sullivan

From there, it would be easy to say the rest is his­to­ry, but it isn’t, Sul­li­van is still quite young in his cho­sen pro­fes­sion of com­ic, but that role as assis­tant to Shore helped him achieve the lev­el of study­ing he nev­er felt inspired to achieve in tra­di­tion­al school or even at film school. After return­ing to Chica­go for his last semes­ter at film school Sul­li­van threw him­self into study­ing. But not for his film school classes.

Instead Sul­li­van stud­ied every­thing he could about com­e­dy, whether it was books or Steve Mar­t­in’s Mas­ter Class (a Mas­ter Class I am per­son­al­ly fond of), after which he high-tailed it back to LA to begin the task of putting his self-study into action. Did he lever­age his work with Shore to land gigs? You know, talk your­self up at all costs even If you’re untal­ent­ed and under qualified.…which I was,” he admits. But that like­abil­i­ty and his hard work even­tu­al­ly start­ed get­ting him noticed. That and land­ing a job as one of the Com­e­dy Store’s door guys”, a posi­tion he is quick to point out was not a gimme from his role as Shore’s assis­tant. He had to inter­view for it just like any oth­er door guy (he was silent on the role of wet carrots).

As things start­ed click­ing for Sul­li­van on and off stage, he got more and more oppor­tu­ni­ties, includ­ing one incred­i­ble oppor­tu­ni­ty giv­en his time as a per­former. He was invit­ed to per­form on David Spade’s Lights Out, a show that was too short-lived in my hum­ble opin­ion. He loved the atten­tion, but was­n’t men­tal­ly pre­pared for the haters. As some­one who is lik­able, he rel­ish­es know­ing that peo­ple like him, so when the inevitable online haters start­ed sur­fac­ing, he was­n’t pre­pared for it. His intro­spec­tion about this incred­i­ble cred­it comes out as he reflects com­e­dy has a real­ly mag­ic way of just, when­ev­er you feel like you’re the shit, of just smack­ing you down in your place again.” It was­n’t just the online vit­ri­ol. It was that his appear­ance on Lights Out occurred in Jan­u­ary 2020, and we all know what hap­pened in March 2020. The glob­al shut­down due to Covid-19.

After lan­guish­ing in LA, Sul­li­van decid­ed to pur­sue what Bri­an Red­ban (recent trans­plant from LA to Austin, and pro­duc­er of some of the world’s most famous pod­casts) had been encour­ag­ing Sul­li­van to do: move to Austin, with assur­ances that Red­ban could offer stage time. It’s impor­tant for me to urge you to lis­ten to the har­row­ing tale of Sul­li­van’s move from LA to Austin, it’s the kind of visu­al sto­ry­telling that Sul­li­van is so good at and why it’s so easy to like him both off and on-stage.

A basic respect, I think is the key because it would benefit everybody if everybody's benefiting from each other's shows and spots. Everyone just wants to get on stage and be funny, right?
Dylan Sullivan

As a trans­plant from LA, I asked Sul­li­van about the divi­sion in the scene between the recent trans­plants and the old guard comics, the comics who hung back from per­form­ing out of a sense of loy­al­ty to pro­tect­ing the com­e­dy scene and audi­ences. Sul­li­van is quick to point out that he under­stands both camps, and in a nod to uni­ty, thinks that what both sides want is a basic respect, I think is the key because it would ben­e­fit every­body if every­body’s ben­e­fit­ing from each oth­er’s shows and spots. Every­one just wants to get on stage and be fun­ny, right? So it’s a bal­ance. I think the answer is a bal­ance of respect and help­ing out peo­ple that you would­n’t nor­mal­ly go out of your way to help out.” It’s a very thought­ful response to a very com­pli­cat­ed issue. Or maybe it isn’t. If com­e­dy is what you want to do, then the new real­i­ty of the brim­ming Austin com­e­dy scene, is there’s a stage for almost every taste and expe­ri­ence lev­el. Find the one that brings you the respect you deserve.

Turn­ing back to Sul­li­van, I for one am glad he chose to fol­low the siren call of Austin. He’s a fan­tas­tic com­ic, he adds to the diver­si­ty of the LGBTQ+ com­e­dy scene, and for heav­en’s sake, he’s so damned like­able. He may just be the LA to Austin com­ic trans­plant that we need to bridge the Austin com­e­dy divide.

Fol­low Dylan


Dylan can be seen and heard:

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Dylan Sullivan