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Lauren Possee Talks to
Comedian Jon Fisch

When was the last time you laughed out loud? New York City is one of the greatest places in the world to see stellar stand-up comedy. Comics such as Jerry Seinfeld, Colin Quinn, Chris Rock, and Sarah Silverman launched their careers in New York.

I recently had a chance to chat with one of New York City’s most hard-working and promising comics: Jon Fisch. Originally from Newton, MA, Jon moved to Manhattan six years ago to pursue a career in stand-up comedy. Since then, Jon has been chosen as one of Comedy Central’s Fresh Faces in Comedy, and named one of Backstage Magazine’s “Ten Stand-out Stand-Ups.” Jon appeared on season 4 of NBC’s Last Comic Standing, where he was voted the New York City Capital One audience favorite. He has also been seen on Comedy Central’s Premium Blend, and recently hosted 3 Men and a Chick Flick on the WE Network. Jon also tours the country and is a regular performer at several New York City clubs, including Gotham Comedy Club, The Broadway Comedy Club, and The Comedy Cellar.

On describing his style, Fisch says, “I’m a monologist that talks about my life, if that’s a style.” The focus of Jon’s comedy is the quirks of city living. He also covers other universal topics, such as on-line dating, roommates, family, and relationships and break-ups, to name a few. “I have worked pretty hard to become myself on stage,” Jon adds, “I know it sounds weird to say I’ve tried to become myself, but when I started I was more nervous to be on stage, so I was a more nervous version of myself.”

Jon Fisch

When asked if he compares his style to any particular comic, Jon responds, “I try not to compare myself to anyone. I get nervous when people say I sound like another comic; it makes me feel like I’m not being original or I am copying them. That being said, people have compared me to Todd Barry, even though I don’t see it. I should probably stop watching him so much.” Todd Barry is not the only comic that Jon admires. “I also like to watch Greg Giraldo, Colin Quinn, Bill Burr, Andy Kindler, Kathleen Madigan and Nick Di Paolo, just to name a few. Of course, Dave Attell, but that’s like saying you like the Beatles. He’s the master. I see and have seen a lot of comedy, and these are some of the comics that I still get excited to watch.”

Jon has always been a fan of comedy, but it was not until after college that he decided to pursue it professionally. Fisch was a Psychology major at the University of Vermont, and made a career shift to comedy while working as a mental health counselor at Boston’s Children’s Hospital. He attended a comedy workshop, and eventually started performing at open mic nights. Fisch recalls, “Boston was a great place to start out in comedy. There were clubs in Boston and Cambridge to work on short 5-10 minute sets and also places to get paid for longer 15-30 minute sets on the weekends. I was opening for established headliners and learned a lot from them.”

“I used to get huge butterflies, and pace around my apartment practicing my act,” Jon reveals about his early days as a Boston comic. Since then, Jon has worked his way up the rungs of the comedy world ladder. Last year, he appeared on Season 4 of NBC’s Last Comic Standing. “I get really anxious around high pressure sets like that, but I also like them because it makes everything else seem easier to handle,” Jon admits.“Every time I do something I consider big, it makes the other shows more comfortable for me.”

When asked about his experience on NBC’s Last Comic Standing, Fisch responds, “The exposure was really great for my career. Being seen on national television raised my stock as a comic, and bumped up my status a bit. I found myself working more regularly at New York clubs I had previously established relationships with, because those people felt more confident booking me.” In the weeks following the show, Jon could tell that audience members recognized the jokes he told on television. “I even got noticed a few times randomly on the street, which was weird,” Jon adds. Recalling one particular instance, while walking out of a convenience store in Massachusetts, Jon tells me, “This guy I’d never seen before was jogging down the street and was like, ‘Jon Fisch! I saw you on Last Comic Standing! We were rooting for you to get in the house.’ I ended up talking to the guy for a few minutes, and it turned out he and his wife had recently seen me at a club in Saugus, MA, and recognized me.”

Stand-up comedy as a profession certainly has its share of obstacles. If you watched Last Comic Standing this past season, you would recall one episode in particular that focused on the subject of hecklers. Unfortunately, dealing with these particularly loud and usually intoxicated audience members is something that every comic must face. “Hecklers are MORONS,” Jon rants, “It amazes me that in the year 2007 there are people that still think it’s acceptable to yell out in comedy clubs.” When asked about his usual tactics when faced with hecklers, Jon responds, “When I am face to face with it, I try to be nice and brush it off at first, then I try to get the rest of the crowd on my side. I might say something like, ‘these people didn’t come to hear you.’ Then I usually try to say something funny or witty to shut them up. After that, the gloves are off,” Jon adds with a smile.

Hecklers are not the only difficult part of a career in comedy. “One of the biggest challenges I face is that there is a lot of jealousy among comics and less camaraderie than I had hoped,” Jon shares, “but most of the comics I am friends with are more supportive. I try to surround myself with the kind of people that are happy for each other when they get an opportunity, or at least they fake it well.” Traveling is also a huge part of a comic’s lifestyle, and can present its own set of challenges. “I try to go out of town twice a month and stay in the city twice a month. The traveling can wear on me. My family and friends mostly live in the Boston area, so I like to go back there to work when I can. It makes it easier if I am on the road with some other comics that I like or in a city where I have some friends.”

On the flip side, Fisch acknowledges that the unpredictability of the profession also keeps things exciting. He adds, “That’s the crazy thing about comedy; there never really is a typical month except that it’s typical that it will be different. Last month I went to Alaska for the first time and this month I’m doing shows in North Dakota and Missouri, both places I have never been.” Although he travels frequently, Jon is proud to call New York City his home base. He says, “New York City has so much comedy, and that’s what’s great about it. A Monday night or a Tuesday night here can have more going on than a Saturday night somewhere else in the country.”

Jon Fisch will be performing at the HBO Comedy Festival in Aspen, Colorado February 28th- March 3rd. Also, this month, Jon will be performing weekly at The Comedy Cellar; check www.comedycellar.com for updates. He will also be performing at the Gotham Comedy Club (www.gothamcomedyclub.com) Sunday, March 25th, and at the Broadway Comedy Club throughout March. Please visit www.broadwaycomedyclub.com for more details. To find out about Jon Fisch’s future performances, or to view video clips from NBC’s Last Comic Standing and Comedy Central’s Premium Blend, check out www.jonfisch.com, or www.myspace.com/jonfisch.




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