The Tapestry of Ellis Aych

July 7, 2024

Photo Credit

Errich Peterson

Interview

Valerie Lopez

Article

Richard Goodwin

Listen

This week’s guest has been with us in Austin since 2000, but we’ve been crim­i­nal­ly neg­li­gent in get­ting Ellis Aych (sounds like H”) on the pod­cast until just this year. Even though the episode clocks in at a near-record 90 min­utes, trust us, it’ll feel like it flew by in an instant.

Armed with a smooth drawl that very much speaks to grow­ing up in Louisiana, then Elgin, Texas, before land­ing in Austin, Aych has no short­age of projects, his­to­ry, and philo­soph­i­cal obser­va­tions to lay on Valerie. One recur­ring theme: expound­ing on how he loves indi­vid­u­als, [but] can’t stand peo­ple”. Indi­vid­u­als are rich peo­ple with a full life, and a tapes­try of mem­o­ries,” Aych notes, a per­spec­tive that aligns per­fect­ly with how he immers­es him­self in a giv­en top­ic (be it per­son, place, or thing).



Individuals are rich people with a full life, and a tapestry of memories
Ellis Aych

High school the­ater gave Aych his first taste of shar­ing those per­spec­tives to an audi­ence, and act­ing has been a theme — and source of pride — for him ever since. His first on-screen role came from a friend who was direc­tor a small-town hor­ror flick called Bloody Home­com­ing.

The inten­tion­al­ly bad” film (Aych jokes it hurts so good” how bad it is) cement­ed his desire to get in front of the cam­era, lead­ing to sev­er­al com­plet­ed and upcom­ing roles. He sug­gests you check out his role in 2020’s The Good Hearts Club, which is very much avail­able on Ama­zon Prime at this very minute. Sev­er­al oth­er projects are in the works, but, on this, he’s unchar­ac­ter­is­ti­cal­ly tight lipped, as details can’t be shared just yet.

Beyond act­ing, Aych didn’t real­ly engage the com­e­dy scene until fair­ly recent­ly, doing his first open mic in 2016. Hot off a per­for­mance where Aych swears he killed”, it took a mere two (checks notes) years to hit the stage again. When he says he’s big on prepa­ra­tion”, clear­ly we have to take him seriously.

For that sec­ond out­ing, host Sym­ply Court­ney asked Aych for a 20 minute set. A typ­i­cal open mic set is 4 – 5 min­utes, so that kind of ask, with only 5 days’ notice, could have been a dis­as­ter in the mak­ing. Aych didn’t even break a sweat.

[I was] flood­ed with ideas, a cacoph­o­ny,” Aych recalls, not­ing that his best ideas come under pres­sure, when it’s crunch time”. A scant 6 months lat­er, he per­formed in a com­e­dy com­pe­ti­tion, and we’re hap­py to say that his appear­ances have become quite a bit more regular.

How reg­u­lar? Aych has per­formed on the renowned Kill Tony show 8 times (so far); for a show based on names drawn from a hat, it’s a killer streak, though he admits that if he didn’t get picked [the first night]” he might nev­er have gone back.

The con­joined inter­ests of act­ing and com­e­dy seem to suit Aych per­fect­ly, with oppor­tu­ni­ties for rich explo­ration and barbed rejoin­ders on both sides. Act­ing and com­e­dy [are] two women that I love dear­ly,” he says, with act­ing being by my side since we start­ed out togeth­er” and com­e­dy bring­ing that razor’s edge of unpre­dictabil­i­ty: I don’t know what she’s going to do; she might stab me”.

It’s a vis­cer­al­ly fun­ny jux­ta­po­si­tion, and Aych has no short­age of them. He jokes about not being a lawyer due to the amount of punc­tu­a­tion you have to know”, say­ing I don’t know what the fuck a semi­colon is!” Not even a breath pass­es before he fol­lows up: Don’t they con­join two inde­pen­dent clauses?” 


[I’ve always been] an individual who can entertain and captivate an audience...and I'm entitled to my opinion
Ellis Aych

Aych’s abil­i­ty to take a rich and nuanced look at the world, then have you break­ing out with snort-laughs, made me an instant fan. When talk turns to what could have been a pure­ly poignant sto­ry about the death of a beloved uncle, Aych walks you right into the unex­pect­ed, describ­ing a time when they’d hang out eat­ing ribs and watch­ing porn at 10am”. Your thoughts on porn (or ribs) aside, it’s hard to imag­ine a bet­ter sto­ry open­ing to take you out of your seat and put you right in the memory.

[I’ve always been] an indi­vid­ual who can enter­tain and cap­ti­vate an audi­ence,” Aych says, then jok­ing and I’m enti­tled to my opin­ion”. He admits that may sound pompous, or arro­gant”, but insists it’s just the stage per­sona. It does bite you in the end, Aych says, talk­ing about the hang”: that after-show time where the comics net­work, or — as we say in the biz — drink. Aych sees the impor­tance, but has to pri­or­i­tize: I know I got work at, like, eight in the morn­ing. I did my set. I’m gonna go home.”

Beyond a day job, act­ing, and doing com­e­dy, there’s no short­age of oth­er projects tak­ing up Aych’s time, and indeed the day has only so many hours. He’s been pro­duc­ing shows, some­times up to 5 at once; one week where he had shows going in San Anto­nio, Austin, and Dal­las at the same time. 

It’s a lot, and that’s not count­ing Aych’s own stage time. By the grace of God, I’ve been get­ting shows every week,” he says, and teas­es a big oppor­tu­ni­ty he doesn’t want to risk talk­ing about just yet for fear of cos­mic ret­ri­bu­tion: I’m a neg­a­tive per­son­al­i­ty mas­querad­ing as a pos­i­tive personality.”

I’m going to get real for just a sec­ond here, and tell you go to lis­ten to the episode if you haven’t. If we tried to cram in every­thing Aych shared, this arti­cle would end up being a nov­el, or a philoso­phies the­sis, maybe an ency­clo­pe­dia set unto itself. This is a man that, in the same con­ver­sa­tion, dropped: Robert Frost, Ernest Hem­ing­way, Thomas Edi­son, astrol­o­gy, iden­ti­ty theft, inte­ri­or dec­o­rat­ing, and at least two men­tions of tit­ties”. That’s not even close to a com­plete list, so do your­self the favor and immerse for an hour and a half.

The one thing per­haps more impor­tant than the hang” in com­e­dy, is some­thing I’ll call the jolt”. That moment where your brain skips a beat because some­one mar­ries two wild­ly dis­parate con­cepts or lin­guis­tic styles in a way that breaks you. It’s fleet­ing, a flash of cere­bral light­ning last­ing no more than a hand­ful of mil­lisec­onds, but it’s the kind of thing that makes an entire set. From our time with Ellis Aych, it’s clear he’s a mas­ter of them, ensur­ing it’s well worth your time to get out and see his act­ing and com­e­dy. That’s our opin­ion, and we’re enti­tled to it.

Fol­low Ellis

Ellis can be seen and heard:

  • The Com­e­dy Sta­tion (SAN ANTO­NIO, TX) 712 buy tick­ets
  • Cap City FPIA (AUSTIN, TX) 716 buy tick­ets
  • Lucy’s Com­e­dy Club (NEW BRAUN­FELS, TX) 720
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Ellis Aych