Each week in Give A Little Bit, we talk to funny people — comics, writers, cartoonists, senators — about the first time they got a laugh.
This week, professional wrestler and stand-up comic Dan Barry talks to us about Enrique Iglesias, his notebook anxiety and the differences between getting a crowd’s attention in a wrestling ring compared to a stage.
Your first “bit”…
The first bit I ever wrote down was how I hate pop music, breaking down songs lyrics ending with Enrique Iglesias’ “Tonight I’m fucking you” Essentially saying his pickup line has more confidence than anything I’ve ever said in my life.
After that, I essentially wrote bits about my dick until I realized that no one wants to hear about my penis so bad that they would pay money to hear me talk about it.
Your writing process..
What I do is record bits on my phone while on the road, or when I wake up in the morning. Then I give it some time and listen to them again. If I like them, they get written down and I find a place to try them. Sometimes those jokes stick. Sometimes they get thrown out immediately. My challenge for 6 months is to come up with 30 minutes of performable material.
Your influences are…
Bill Burr is up there. I view him as someone who is believable on stage. George Carlin, Pryor, Daniel Tosh, John Mulaney… The list is long and contains names that people might think are weird but each of them has an element of their act that I like and try to include in my performances.
How you keep it all together…(notebooks, laptop, cocktail napkins?)
I have a notebook I keep in my car. For some reason, I choose not to bring it in with me. Probably because I’m self-conscious and don’t want anybody reading any of my shitty jokes. Or worse: stealing one of my shitty jokes.
Wrestling vs. standup….
They are parallel lines on different roads. From breaking into the business by trying to get your friends to attend shows just so you can perform for 5 minutes to traveling all over for little to no money just to be seen, to the drama and bullshit that happens behind the curtain it’s all very much the same, and I take the fact that I had gone through it all before with wrestling as a blessing.
The fundamental difference is that in comedy you are alone on stage, and it’s up to you to make the magic happen. Also, the scars and bruises from comedy can’t be seen, and you feel them for way longer.
I’ve wrestled at Riker’s Island in front of inmates and I’ve done comedy at an old folk’s home on a Sunday afternoon. I was WAY more nervous about the elderly than I was about the inmates.
According to a few wrestling figureheads (namely this guy), “Funny doesn’t draw money”. Care to give a rebuttal?
He’s not 100% wrong, but I think he isn’t right. Some of the most memorable moments in wrestling were comical. One of the highest rated segments in wrestling history was “This Is Your Life” starring The Rock and Mankind. The big thing is knowing when and where to turn the switch from funny to serious. Funny will make you money short term, but knowing when to get serious will make you more money longer.
Bit you wish you wrote…
The list is long. I started on a bit once that I thought was going to be good and then saw Louis CK perform the bit WAY better than I was going to so I immediately scrapped it and cried. I’ve written (but never performed a bit) that involves a funny story of my friend going to an abortion clinic.
Unfortunately, while the story in and of itself is funny, the material surrounding the joke is very taboo. And while some people could get away with it, I don’t think anyone wants to hear Dan Barry’s abortion story.
A new bit…
I have 40 minutes on airline food I’m working on.