Chad and I both grew up in Fergus Falls. I never knew him personally, aside from a quick compliment he gave me in school once about a Philadelphia Eagles Starter cap I was wearing (he loved the team – I was only in possession of such an extravagant piece of wardrobe because I had stolen it from my brother who had swiped it from a local hat merchant). A few years later I was fortunate enough to catch one of his earliest performances at the old, crusty Fergus Theatre. It was the first time I had ever seen or heard of anyone in our town doing stand-up and although I can’t recall anything in particular from that night, whatever it was allowed me the courage to cold call him the following morning to ask him how to do comedy.
“Just write some material and give me a call when your done and I’ll help you with it,” he said. Fourteen years later I wonder if the offer still stands.
What made you want to get into stand up and when did you take the dive?
I’d always loved watching stand up. From the time I snuck out of my bedroom and watched Eddie Murphy’s Delirious from under the extended footrest of my dad’s recliner. I had a TV in my room and would stay up and watch A&E’s Evening at the Improv. After school I would watch Comedy Central in it’s infant years with shows like Short Attention Span Theatre and Stand Up Stand Up. I was enthralled with the idea of people making strangers laugh. I could stand around a bonfire and make fun of teachers while my classmates laughed, but there was a common bond that all of us had. Same school. The comedians on TV were making people laugh that they had never met and came from different backgrounds. Amazing. I hosted the Homecoming coronation my senior year in high school, gave my classes graduation speech, and tried some hosting things in college. However, nothing compared to signing up for open mic at ACME in Minneapolis. Straight stand up. I almost shit my pants the first night. And the second night. That was 14 years ago.
Where did you try out material – I don’t recall there being any open mics anywhere in Fergus.
I lived in Minneapolis when I started and went to open mics at ACME and Knucklehead’s at the Mall of America.
Is it true that you opened for Gallagher once and he sat in the crowd and heckled you?
Ha. Yes. He was touring working on material for his next tour. The show was called The Gallagher Monologues. So he was only doing jokes. Not the normal smashing thing. I was in Louisville, Kentucky. He yelled, “Maybe they’d like you more if you talked about Louisville?” I said, “This is a tough crowd. Good luck without your melons, dick.” The crowd erupted. I heard a couple of different trays crash. Later I found out it was some servers laughing so hard they dropped their drinks.
Your sister told me you had made the cut at one of the Last Comic Standing auditions but then got bumped?
Sounds like you know it. I got the red envelope to go to the semi finals and two weeks before I left they said tough shit, we were kidding. I’m paraphrasing, of course.
You seem pretty relaxed when it comes to sparring with a drunk crowd.
I don’t know if it would work for anyone else, but I don’t care if I lose. That seems to help. Plus, I come from a home filled with sharp tongues. My mom and sister are very funny.
When did you hit the road and primarily make your living doing stand up?
Six months after I started doing open mic I got asked to audition to house emcee in Grand Forks, ND. It sounds like a horrible move, but my first week was with Mitch Hedberg. Not too shabby. After those six months I was lucky enough to have a lot of the headliners I had met bring me on the road with them.
Who are some of your influences now as opposed to when you first started out?
When I started my influences were household names. They are still influences, but I have added some people that no one has heard of. There are people doing amazing things on the road.
Worst gig ever?
A casino in New Mexico. I had to have three security guards bring me to my room.
You can check out Chad headlining at Acme all week. You can also still get tickets for a special he will filming for during the Friday shows here.