I've been a fan of comedy ever since my dad first pulled the "got your nose!" gag on me. I love to laugh and I love a good joke, so naturally I enjoy watching stand-up comedy. From Jim Gaffigan to Brian Regan, John Pinette to Jeff Dunham, I've seen them all. One of the most recent comedians I've begun to watch is Ty Barnett. Ty has been working in comedy for 15 years: he's been named "Outstanding Performer" at Montreal's Just For Laughs Festival, has appeared on The Tonight Show and The Late Late Show, been a contestant on Last Comic Standing, and has been featured on Comedy Central Presents. With a new special airing on Comedy Central, I was given the opportunity to discuss with Mr. Barnett some of his favorite experiences in comedy.
Jack: I recently viewed your upcoming special "Issues" coming to Comedy Central and I very much enjoyed it; you had all of your routine timed out extremely well. How did you first become interested in comedy?
Ty: You know what, I always thought about doing it, but never really approached it until I was maybe 25, but I've always watched stand-up, everybody from Pryor to Cosby, Seinfeld...I always thought it would be a cool job to do; I never thought about doing it for a career, and then when I was 24 or 25 I was at Comedy Underground in Seattle, where I started, and I would put my name on the list, psych myself up, and then I would get scared with one or two people left in front of me and chicken out, until one day I just said "I gotta go do it."
Jack: Is there a moment you remember from your stand-up career that you remember as one of your favorite moments in comedy?
Ty: One of those moments is my first Tonight Show, it was freaking me out because I wasn't very nervous on the way to the studio...I had been doing comedy for a while before this so it wasn't like it was my first time on stage; I was really mellow. So I get to the studio and I meet Jay; he's talking about comedy and it still hasn't kicked in, until about maybe 2 seconds before they called me to come out to get on my mark before going out on stage, and all of a sudden my chest is pounding, like it was going to come out of my chest. Someone offered me a bag to breathe into because I must have looked that nervous, and I remember being backstage and Jay is about to introduce me and in my head I think "Don't $%#@ this up, please don't $%#@ this up, this is what you've been waiting for", and Jay cracked a joke about my schedule: I think my next gig was about a month away, and so Jay said "...he can be seen at" and then he paused and said "he can be seen in about a month and a half, I guess he has a lot of free time", and it made me laugh.That was the moment where I took a deep breath...2 seconds after that they introduced me and I went out on my very first tonight show, and I remember being there seeing the camera and in the back of my mind thinking "there are so many people who strive to get to do this". Another moment was when we were doing Last Comic [Standing] and we were in the lobby, and a mob of people came up to me. That had never happened to me in my life, not even with The Tonight Show, people coming up to me just for my autograph. So I was freaking out a little bit, but it was definitely a moment that stood out.
Jack: That's really cool to hear.
Ty: I have another moment, the kind of stuff people don't really think about as much. I remember a lady told me one time after the show "I just want you to know, you helped me get through brain surgery...I remember watching your stand-up as I was recovering and it just made me laugh" and it took me aback; that was one of the bigger moments.
Jack: That's incredible. I hear you have a new special airing on Comedy Central soon?
Ty: Yes, it premiered on Itunes on Tuesday actually. I also have a special that runs on Comedy Central regularly, and people with tweet me all the time saying "hey I just saw you on Comedy Central" and I'll reply "doing what?", but this new special is available for media streaming, it's called Issues. It's me being me, talking-you know what, I tell people when I first started comedy and what I think a lot of comedians do is what everyone thinks is funny, so they do standard jokes: fart jokes, fat jokes, whatever's easy for people. And then as you do comedy more and evolve, you think "well now I've gotta talk about me." So this special is more personal, about the stuff I'm really going through in my life. When you watch it, 95% of that stuff actually happened...I've learned that the more I talk about the things I'm really going through, those become the easy things for me. Those are the things I don't mind sharing with people. Most shows I do someone will come up to me afterwards and say "I'm going through the same thing." I'll talk about my kids and parents will come up to me and say "Man, I'm going through the same stuff", and that's what i love about comedy: it brings so many people together from different backgrounds but over the same issues and we all think they're funny.
Jack: Now I do have an interesting question for you: if you could have any superpower, what would it be?
Ty: Flying. I don't even have to think about it. But not like a bird, I don't want to have to flap my wings, that doesn't look cool, it looks idiotic, you'll scare people flying around like a bird. But, if you're flying like Superman, that's it, hands down.
Jack: So stylish flying.
Ty: [laughs] Yes, stylish flying, but not just like the Christopher Reeve Superman. They just did Superman right with the latest one they put out, Man Of Steel, they finally got it right. I've actually had dreams where I could feel myself flying just like that. Like if I wanted to go to Paris, I could be there in an hour flat.
Jack: That would certainly make getting from gig to gig easier, wouldn't it?
Ty: [laughs] Yes, absolutely.
Jack: Well thank you very much Mr. Barnett, I very much enjoyed your stand-up and thank you for this interview.
Ty: Thank you, I appreciate it.
Ty Barnett's special Issues can be found on Itunes and Comedy Central, be sure to check out his stand-up. Thanks for reading!