After College, Comedy
Steve Macone (COM’07) returns to BU Central tonight
It’s been an interesting year for recent graduate Steve Macone (COM’07), the winner of the 2006 BU Central Funniest Student Competition. Since finishing his studies, he’s spent time digging up dinosaur fossils with a paleontologist friend, writing for the Boston Globe Magazine and the Boston Phoenix, and refining his stand-up act. Macone’s victory in the BU Central competition won him the opportunity to open for comedian Dave Coulier, best known as Joey Gladstone on the sitcom Full House, when he performed at BU in November 2006.
Tonight, Macone returns to BU for the LOL Comedy Series at BU Central, joined by special guest Rob Turbovsky (COM’08), the runner-up in 2007’s Funniest Student Competition. Macone spoke recently with BU Today about his jobs, his plans, and life as a post-college comedian.
BU Today: What are you doing with yourself now that you’re out of school? Have you become a couch potato?
Macone: It’s weird — I don’t really have an answer for what I’m doing with myself. I’ve been lucky. I have performed in Times Square and helped a friend find a dinosaur in the desert out west, and I’ve taken a train for three days straight and finally worked at getting health insurance and making car payments, and then, when I see another recent grad, I answer the question, “Hey man, what have you been up to?” with, “Aw, you know, nothing really.”
Sometimes, at family parties when people ask me what I’m doing, I don’t feel like explaining it so I make stuff up that sounds like what other people say: “I work at a boutique PR firm that specializes in boutique businesses.” Then I can eat chips.
I don’t mean to be obnoxiously Zen, but I’m just sort of doing what I’m doing. I work part-time for two magazines, and I perform a few nights a week and at colleges around the Northeast. I also write freelance pieces, like a story about action figures I wrote for the Boston Phoenix. And I travel a lot. I’ve gone cross-country twice since graduating.
How much of your performance is improvised?
If I’m getting up on stage for a set time, I always make sure I have enough to say to at least fill that slot. It’s a job I’m doing, and to show up not prepared would be odd. Sometimes people think you’re up there winging it. I’d rather wing open-heart surgery or piloting a small aircraft — something where if you mess up there are less severe consequences.
And when I get up there, I’m not trying to play it like I haven’t thought of this stuff before. When I talk about bananas for four minutes or about the metaphysics of feeling numb, I’d rather the audience be like, wow, this kid’s really thought about this stuff — maybe too much.
That said, if a crowd is good, meaning that they came to laugh and have a good time, then the improvisational jokes come naturally, so it can sort of be an involuntary reward from me to a good crowd, because it means that I’m joking with them in the same freestyle way we joke with our friends, only a little more intense. So it depends. Some shows I might make one or two unplanned comments, while at other shows I might spend five minutes on one thing that came up randomly, and then even come back to it.
What are you favorite things to write about? Where do you get your inspiration?
The inspiration to write jokes and perform in general — I don’t know where that comes from. That’s a deeper conversation about, like, man’s inherent tendency to generate art, or the feeling you get at the end of the movie Remember the Titans. Specific jokes usually come from that little feeling that pops into your head, that pang of the absurd. Like, you’ll be doing something you do every day and then realize, this doesn’t make sense and yet makes perfect sense. But instead of letting it go, which is what we usually do, I just write it down and neurotically think about it for five days.
How did your College of Communication program prepare you for a career in comedy?
I studied journalism, and I do consider what I’m doing, for the most part, an act of journalism, like an extreme form of editorializing. And I would not have material for jokes if I didn’t have the life experiences I get from working as a journalist. Anyone who works in the news business knows that life is absurd.
COM also prepared me by exposing me to some really smart, capable people, both students and faculty. Some of the professors are just so good at what they do, humble and passionate, and they have little time for nonsense. And those are things that are going to help you no matter what you do. There were also some very talented people who graduated about the same time as me and have gone on to impressive careers in comedy, and just being with them was amazing. Learning to write, which I wouldn’t say I am able to do completely by any means, is probably the biggest practical thing. COM can be a very intellectually engaging place if you meet the right people and stop worrying about “networking.”
Also, a lot of the jokes I tell are very weird. Some people just don’t like them, which is fine. COM gave me the confidence to be able to try something unique while still being vigilant about the quality of what I’m creating.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Still doing what I’m doing I guess — but maybe with a beard. Not even a time-lapse-appropriate beard either, but a really long white one that no 27-year-old would have for any reason. Anything’s possible.
Steve Macone, with Rob Turbovsky, performs at the LOL Comedy Series tonight at BU Central. Doors open at 9 p.m. and the show starts at 9:30. The event is free, but a BU ID is required.
Amy Laskowski can be reached at email@example.com Comments