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Monday, June 18, 2012

Q&A: Joe Klocek prepares to open for top comics at Fillmore for Comedy Central tapings

Posted By on Mon, Jun 18, 2012 at 2:45 PM

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San Francisco gets a hat tip this week as Comedy Central sets up shop at the famous Fillmore theater for the taping of four stand-up specials. Bay Area comedy fans get the chance to see nationally-acclaimed comics for free, and the historic comedy scene gets recognition for years to come from fans across the country. This event also comes with a special opportunity for one Bay Area favorite: Comedian Joe Klocek was hired by Comedy Central to open the shows. I got to talk with Klocek briefly about working for Comedy Central and what's so great about San Francisco comedy.

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Dana: First of all, congrats! How did you get booked for these shows?

Joe: Thank you. I have Molly Schminke, the talent booker for The Punch Line and Cobb's, to thank for recommending me. After that, I got checked out online via Youtube, and then one day I got an email.

How does this gig stack up to your appearances on NBC's Last Comic Standing and Comedy Central's Live at Gotham?

Live at Gotham was my first T.V. appearance. I was excited, nervous, and I remember trying to keep all the stage direction straight in my head while I did my act. When it was done, it was a bit of a let down because I didn't feel present. Last Comic Standing was exciting just because it was a chance to be seen by millions of people. When the show I was on aired, I spent three days returning emails from people all over the country. It was a taste of what real fame must be like. I won't be seen on Comedy Central for any of these specials, so its just about having fun and setting up the comics who will be filmed with a hot crowd.

What about this gig is uniquely exciting for you?

Being at the Fillmore is a big deal. It is a beautiful venue. You can't walk out on that stage and not feel special. It will be cool to watch all the behind-the-scenes adventure, too. A small army will essentially take over every aspect of the place for a week. When an audience looks around and sees several multi-million dollar cameras, lights, and they're there to see someone they admire as a stand-up, the energy in the room is incredible. I would have to work to mess this up. I get to step out into that energy and play with it for a while before bringing out the star. It's my chance to shine and my chance to get my name out to a hard core comedy loving audience.

What about this gig is uniquely frightening or nerve-wracking for you?

I feel like I am the Justice of the Peace at a wedding. I'm not the star, but I'm important. If I mess up and the crowd isn't warmed up because I bomb or something happens and I can't roll with it, it sets a weird tone for the show. I would feel awful if I had to hand a crappy crowd off to a fellow comic who now has to record a special in front of them.

I imagine you've already had to deal with some red tape with CC in preparation for the tapings? Anything contract-wise that you think is notable or unexpected?

Actually, it's been really easy so far. There is a lot of email I'm cc'd on that I have nothing to do with, but so far it's a standard performance contract. I am bringing my camera with me and plan to film as much as I can get away with to post on my website when it's all done. I probably shouldn't, and when I asked I was told they want to think about it -- so maybe the adventure with red tape is just starting.

I've only seen you as a headliner, and you're well-known for being quick on your feet with crowd work. How does that play out when you're the opening act?

I love to riff with a crowd and I think a good comic has to roll with the circumstances. I might do some of that if the crowd is in the moment and having fun. Going from headlining to opening can sting the ego a little bit, sure, but some of the biggest gigs in the entertainment industry are hosting gigs. I wouldn't turn down the Academy Awards Show.

You're a staple in the Bay Area comedy scene, but you have worked the road, as well. What about the Bay Area scene do you love that keeps you here?

I am actually about to do a two-month tour in the Midwest starting in July, so I do leave when it's fun and the money is right. The reason I stay in SF is that I am a stand-up comic first and whatever else the business side of comedy wants from me second. That, and funny matters here. There is a direct focus on funny, original, unique and topical acts. SF produces some of the smartest and most original comedic voices out there. Sadly, this isn't true of every place.

What impact do you think things like these Comedy Central tapings have on the local comedy scene?

It's exciting that San Francisco is the town they are filming in. It also means Comedy Central knows there is a smart, hip, cool audience here for stand-up. For the comics, it's a chance to see the industry up close and makes you want to reach that level. I think it inspires anyone who is a comic to see something of this magnitude filmed in your backyard.

Anything you'd like to add that I haven't mentioned?

I'm single. And my website: http://standupjoe.com

Thanks for talking with us, Joe, and good luck this week!

FREE tickets are still available here! Get a chance to see a T.V. taping first-hand, plus a free performance from these incredible comedians:

Wed, 6/20: Kyle Kinane

Thurs, 6/21: Eugene Mirman

Fri, 6/22: Kristen Schaal

Sat, 6/23: Amy Schumer

Shows are at 6:30 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. each night. Klocek will open all shows Wednesday through Friday.

Awkward Silence is a weekly column covering local stand-up comedy in San Francisco.

Follow Dana Sitar on Twitter at @danasitarSF Weekly's Exhibitionist blog at @ExhibitionistSF and like us on Facebook.

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Dana Sitar

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