Sean Reilly - Making Time for Comedy

October 15, 2023

Photo Credit

Samson Seablom


Valerie Lopez


Valerie Lopez

Content Warning

The article and accompanying podcast discuss suicide. If you or someone you care for is having suicidal thoughts, contact the Suicide and Crisis Hotline at 988.

You would­n’t know it from the delight­ful chaos rep­re­sent­ed from this pod­cast episode, our longest on record, but Sean Reil­ly was a goody-two shoes grow­ing up. As a STEM kid, he will con­firm that he does typ­i­cal­ly wear two shoes and that life was good for him grow­ing up in Sil­i­con Val­ley.

This con­ver­sa­tion became a per­fect cap­stone to wrap up 299 pod­cast episodes since the incep­tion of Com­e­dy Wham Presents. We’ve cov­ered a lot of ground in our 299 inter­views with comics from around the world, most­ly Austin, with no top­ic left untouched. Or so we thought before sit­ting down with Reil­ly, who brought us such var­ied top­ics as read­ing about becom­ing a slum­lord, the risks of over caf­feina­tion, Mid­dle East­ern gov­ern­ments (this episode was record­ed pri­or to the Hamas attacks on Israel), the ethics of open­ing for prob­lem­at­ic big-name comics, and the excel­lence of John Mulaney’s lat­est spe­cial.

One nev­er knows if a comic’s sto­ry­telling on stage is based on truth, but Reil­ly’s comedic ref­er­ences to his alleged engi­neer­ing chops seem accu­rate, as we learn that after a suc­cess­ful high school career, Reil­ly head­ed to the Cal­i­for­nia Poly­tech­nic State Uni­ver­si­ty in San Luis Obis­po to major in aero­space engi­neer­ing. His suc­cess in acad­e­mia was short-lived, he read­i­ly admits, shar­ing with us his abysmal­ly low GPA…which I will not reveal here (you’ll have to lis­ten to the episode). His lack of suc­cess in the class­room was over­shad­owed by a new inter­est: comedy. 

Comedy was the only thing I always made time for.
Sean Reilly

Reil­ly threw him­self so much into his new hob­by that he became the even­tu­al pres­i­dent of the Cal Poly Com­e­dy Club. Between learn­ing about com­e­dy, per­form­ing com­e­dy, and book­ing com­e­dy acts for the club, Reil­ly real­ized that he was will­ing to throw away his aca­d­e­m­ic career – and aspi­ra­tions to work for NASA (due to afore­men­tioned GPA) – for com­e­dy. As he says it, Com­e­dy was the only thing I always made time for.“

Much like anoth­er well-known Cal­i­for­nia trans­plant with an epony­mous pod­cast, Reil­ly has achieved great lev­els of suc­cess (though decid­ed­ly the Joe Rogan Expe­ri­ence has slight­ly high­er view­er num­bers) with his brand of free-flow­ing top­ics, sar­casm, and pseu­do-spon­sor­ships with rogue gov­ern­ments. For Reil­ly, the over­lap between sar­casm, irony, and being pas­sive-aggres­sive has helped him fig­ure out what an audi­ence likes.

But, as much as we enjoyed the mean­der­ing con­ver­sa­tion with Reil­ly, we also want­ed to know what brought a kid from Cal­i­for­nia to the stages of Austin, Texas. It turns out Rogan did play a role in the move, as Reil­ly was at the time a lis­ten­er (but has since eased off due to polit­i­cal dif­fer­ences) to The Joe Rogan Expe­ri­ence pod­cast. After the mega-suc­cess­ful pod­cast­er announced his move to Austin, Reil­ly fig­ured that since he was­n’t cut for engi­neer­ing, and his career in finance left him dis­en­chant­ed, a move to a city with a promise of plen­ti­ful stage time seemed like a log­i­cal next step.

Things were going well for Reil­ly as he took advan­tage of the stage time to become bet­ter and bet­ter. So much so that he land­ed in the finals of the 2022 Cap City Com­e­dy Club Fun­ni­est Per­son in Austin con­test. Com­e­dy can be cru­el though and self-doubts, com­par­i­son to oth­ers, and lack of progress became frus­tra­tions that Reil­ly could­n’t move past. Until he lit­er­al­ly became his own savior.

Angry goofy. That's what I'm going for. I want to get more ranty.
Sean Reilly

Col­lab­o­rat­ing with pro­lif­ic pod­cast pro­duc­er and com­ic Josh Cabaza, Reil­ly found that hav­ing his own pod­cast was a way to achieve his goals, which includ­ed being angry goofy. That’s what I’m going for. I want to get more ranty.” And this is def­i­nite­ly what you get on Sean’s Show, a name, Reil­ly con­fess­es took him way too long to land upon. The pod­cast is freely avail­able on Youtube and Spo­ti­fy, but also includes a Patre­on com­po­nent where Reil­ly inter­views guests with the ground rules of 1) no road sto­ries, and 2) no dis­cus­sion of the Austin com­e­dy scene. 

Reil­ly is excit­ed that Sean’s Show reached the 10 episode mile­stone (we’d like to inter­ject we feel just as excit­ed for our 299th episode) because past pod­casts he’s done did­n’t have the stay­ing pow­er he thinks this one has. Also, when you’re the name on the show, you can’t real­ly blame any­one else for a busy sched­ule or for los­ing the record­ing. Also also, Cabaza is an incred­i­bly strong producer. 

We spoke to Reil­ly the week fol­low­ing the loss of fel­low Austin com­ic Nick Roche to sui­cide: a painful time that decid­ed­ly affect­ed Reil­ly, and those from the Austin com­e­dy scene that knew Roche. We remem­ber Nick for post­ing the start of a new open mic on Sun­days, the San Jac Open Mic which con­tin­ues to this day. 

The sur­prise around the Austin com­e­dy scene that Roche would take his own life serves as a reminder that you nev­er know what some­one might be going through secret­ly. It is a tragedy that Roche felt alone. It would be a tragedy for any­one else to feel this way. If you or some­one you know is expe­ri­enc­ing a men­tal health cri­sis, call the nation­al cri­sis hot­line at 988.

Where do we go from here? To change the tone, Reil­ly shares his music rec­om­men­da­tions, most­ly in the rap and hip-hop genre. I could­n’t help but quick­ly respond with my adu­la­tion for Post Mal­one (a jux­ta­po­si­tion that nev­er fails to amuse my CW part­ner). Mal­one was recent­ly fea­tured in an Esquire arti­cle attempt­ing to dis­sect his pop­u­lar­i­ty across all demo­graph­ic cross-sec­tions (includ­ing mid­dle-aged moms like myself). 

Analy­sis is a fan­tas­tic exer­cise, no doubt about it, but try­ing to dis­sect why you like a come­di­an is much like try­ing to fig­ure out why you like Post Mal­one. If you’re a nice per­son, if you make us smile, and if you’re com­fort­able with your goofi­ness, isn’t that all it takes? It’s up to you, dear read­er, to fig­ure out if I’m still talk­ing about Post Mal­one or if I’m real­ly describ­ing Sean Reilly.

Fol­low Sean

Sean can be seen and heard:

  • Sean’s Show on Youtube and Spotify
  • Head­lin­ing at LOL San Anto­nio — Sun­day Nov 122023
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Sean Reilly