If you have yet to see Rory Scovel perform live, you are certainly doing yourself a disservice. Hilarious, ingenious, unique and a little absurd, when Scovel performs you can clearly see he “marches to the beat of his own drummer”, but it is an infectious beat one you never want to stop hearing. Unpredictable and charismatic Scovel commands the stage with his off the cuff improvised style creating entertaining characters and moments that leaves the audience laughing till near hyperventilation (sounds like an exaggeration, but this has happen to us on several occasions) It is no wonder many of his fellow comedians count him as one of their favorites, it is a rare thing to make a comedian laugh and yet Scovel can do it with ease.
Well known on the New York scene, Scovel recently made the move to Los Angeles. He has been featured in the Vancouver Comedy Festival, Bumbershoot Comedy, Arts, Music Festival and Sasquatch Music Festival and currently tours all over the country. With an ability to be ever-changing and dynamic there is definetly much more in store for Scovel, chances are it will be creative and inventive and well that’s the way we like it!
TigerLily: Let’s ask the obvious so what’s up?
Rory: Not too much. I’m in Canada right now for one more weekend of shows and then a long drive to LA from here.
TigerLily: Yay for LA I say!
Rory: I agree. I’m really excited to get there. The weather in Canada some weeks has been rainy and cold which I didn’t expect.
TigerLily: You are known as a comedian on the NY scene but has dabbled in other scenes and are now prepared to move to LA? Do you feel LA is different from the others?
Rory: Not sure yet. I love the NY scene. At first it was really tough because I was barely performing but once I started to meet more comedians and become a part of the scene I found that it was really inviting and supportive. It doesn’t seem that way on the outside. So far LA has already been that for me. I love the comics that I’ve hung out with and performed with. I’m hoping that the opportunity to perform is the same in LA but I won’t know till I’ve been there. I am excited about the other outlets of entertainment that LA can provide. I think NYC has them too but not on the scale that LA does.
TigerLily: Well LA loves you I’m sure of it I asked all of LA and they agree.
Rory: Perfect I’m going to need that love, I’m very needy.
TigerLily: Ha! Your style can be described as off the cuff, laid back and seems highly improvised. This is a hard thing to convey in stand up. I feel you perform almost like a Jazz musician; always changing you are never going to see the same thing twice and are always fresh. Is that your goal?
Rory: It sort of is, but it’s also very difficult to be able to pull off completely. If I’m at a comedy club for a weekend I’m not sure if much changes in my set unless the crowd seems to be really supportive and energetic and fun. I’ll do my best at the top of my set to fuck around and see if they are open to silliness. If they are, then it can change my whole set, but if they seem like work, then I sort of put my head down and go through the motions. Some changes here and there. Some points in the show they might warm up and if I stay loose in the moment might go off the cuff and discover new tags or joke ideas. Shows like Tiger Lily and Death Ray, Whiplash in NYC or Big Terrific have crowds that are really open to experimentation. I love that kind of support from a crowd. To me it’s more fun to fail trying some absurd thing than to just do what you’ve already been doing. I think the spontaneous comedy is what keeps it entertaining for me and if I’m entertaining myself then usually my set is more fun.
TigerLily: Well I personally from a comedy fan and booker stand point enjoy experimentation it’s what makes the show memorable and the crowd can connect personally to it. You do it well so in the short time I’ve seen ya I think we’ve gotten a lot of Scovel moments.
Rory: Ha, I like that. Scovel Moments. I feel like that should be a montage of all the times I trip going on stage.
TigerLily: Ha! Well you were one of the only comedians to have a month long residency at TigerLily, how did you feel about that?
Rory: I loved it. I’m sure not everyone was happy about one person getting a spot every week but when you are that person you are really happy about it. It was definitely a challenge to make sure I wasn’t going up and doing the same thing every week because then I would have felt like the opportunity was wasted. I really started to just force out some jokes that I was really unsure of and because I did that those bits have evolved and become bigger jokes in my act now. So thank you.
TigerLily: Ha well we got a lot of positive feedback, people at that time had heard a lot about you but hadn’t seen you and it gave them a chance to engage in some Scovel moments.
Rory: Nice. I’m still picturing them seeing me going up each week and falling down before I get to the microphone.
TigerLily: Growing up did you know you wanted to pursue comedy? Or did it just happen?
Rory: I played sports growing up and always enjoyed making everyone on the team laugh when I could. I also got in trouble in school for talking too much. I would do anything to get people to laugh. I didn’t know that this would ever lead to anything though. I think comics of my generation just thought early on that they had ADD, not that they were comedians. The actual pursuit of it though just sort of happened. I decided to try it one night in Spartanburg, SC at a poetry night. Since I brought most of the audience no one cared if I did poetry or for how long I talked. So I told jokes and just made shit up for 30 minutes. My friends were there so it wasn’t like I did 30 minutes of jokes. I just talked and since they knew me, they enjoyed it I think. After that I was addicted and decided I was going to try this for a while.
TigerLily: Ha I like that idea of ADD being misdiagnosed to all future comedians. So how was your first time doing stand up officially at a stand up venue?
Rory: I think in many ways it is for lots of people. I did have a problem paying attention in school and still do but it’s all attributed to being very bored with things that aren’t fun. I can’t focus on stuff that doesn’t interest me. We call it ADD. I think it’s normal though. I think my inability to focus is what writes material. If I just focused on one thing I wouldn’t let my mind wander to other questions about things I want to joke about. Even as I write this answer I’m becoming disinterested in my own answer and not sure what I’m saying now. It was really awesome. I was in DC and competed in their monthly competition. I ended up winning and that lead to a weekend of emceeing for Bobcat Goldthwait.
TigerLily: Wow that is awesome, did performing with a veteran comedian help you?
Rory: Seeing him do standup solidified in my mind that I was pursuing something I really loved.
TigerLily: During the course of these interviews I have heard several comedians say that stand up “It’s something I have to do or I’ll go crazy” or that when not doing it “they feel like they’re slipping away” you feel that way?
Rory: Yeah, I think it can feel that way. It definitely feels like it is slipping away. If you aren’t going on stage you aren’t getting that fix or working on tightening or exploring and discovering new ideas. When you aren’t doing that it feels like you are losing your ability to perform. It takes a lot of work to achieve extreme comfort on stage. When you have it, you can really deliver. When you don’t have it, you feel like it’s one of your first times on stage again. No one wants that, so when you aren’t getting on stage you know you’re getting closer and closer to feeling those first time jitters and that is what drives people crazy.
Performing, whether paid or unpaid is the job. People start to go crazy when they are out of work.
TigerLily: ha! What has been one of your best moments on stage?
Rory: In 2006 I performed in the Seattle Comedy Competition. The first night of the competition I had to leave right after my set because I was booked to perform on the Laffhole show across town. At that show I tried to go 45 minutes without telling any jokes and I just improvised the whole thing and it is my favorite show I’ve ever done. I don’t think I will ever find that same headspace again. I hope to.
I was bringing thing on stage and trying to just improvise scenes with them. Some people got up and left in the middle of the show. I didn’t care because I absolutely loved it and some of the audience did too, I think, I hope.
TigerLily: sounds like a great nite, how about the worst?
Rory: worst moment. I did a show in Virginia along the coast. I and another DC comic Justin Schlegel drove down and I went on first and they absolutely hated me. I stayed on stage 10 minutes longer because I could feel their hatred. I left that show destroyed because I thought you could connect with everyone when you performed. Turns out you can’t connect with rednecks at all. It is impossible.
Rory: These were rednecks that thought the blue collar comedy tour was for queers.
TigerLily: wow hard core rednecks I wonder if they liked Tim Allen and Home Improvement?
Rory: too gay for them, think they questioned why 2 grown men drove one car from DC.
TigerLily: Ha ha you have been able to perform on TL a lot, any favorite moments you’d like to share?
Rory: One night I went up and tried to just have a very stream of consciousness type set. I haven’t really done something to that level since but it was really awesome getting to find out that it is something I could do if I just relaxed and had confidence to try it. Like I said though, hasn’t really happened again, so I need work on the confidence part for sure. Also co-hosting with Jon Dore was really fun. I love working with Jon.
TigerLily: Jon Dore is great; when you 2 are together it’s like watch out something pretty crazy awesome is going to happen.
Rory: I think that’s what I love about working with Jon. He has great ideas and he is pretty open to crazy ideas. I love not knowing what he is going to do on stage, even if I’m involved in it.
TigerLily: Yeah I love it; it’s a joy when you see that happening. It’s good to take chances I think when you aren’t open to taking a chance that is when you fail the most.
Rory: Yeah, or you just seem flat. When you have some adrenaline and a little bit of fear you tend to perform a little more than just talk.
TigerLily: Ha yeah I’m not a comedian but I get excited when I see people taking chances and up for anything maybe it’s because all I do is watch comedy!
Rory: Yeah, it makes it a little more exciting.
TigerLily: So is there any comedian thinks deserves a shout out here?
Rory: Richard Bain is a comic from Portland who is a lot of fun to watch. Chris Gordon is a comic from Calgary who is a lot of fun to watch. Hampton Yount just moved to LA from DC and he is really fun. I feel like I could go on and on with this list and leave off so many still. Those 3 are always a fun show though so definitely worth finding more of their stuff.
TigerLily: Tell us what you like about TigerLily? Or describe TigerLily to the uninformed
Rory: I love that Tiger Lily is a relaxed atmosphere for comedy. There are no expectations and therefore the show is great. Even when you aren’t performing it’s an awesome show for hanging out and laughing.
Rory Scovel would like you to know he loves chocolate milk and plans to start his own brand of ice cream one day. For more information on Rory, some Scovel moments or to finance his ice cream business go to his website http://www.roryscovel.com/comedy/