Comedy

Andy Haynes on Midnight Run, 9/11 jokes and getting heckled during his own comedy special

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What about your personal habits? I know Rory Scovel prefers to get high before every show. Does it effect you much one way or the other?

I don't think it makes a huge difference. I tend to smoke during the day, so I'll have a residual high left when I go up, but it doesn't really change me much at this point. I'm just kind of a stoner.

In my experience, regular-old anxiety can be a much worse impairment than being intoxicated. I guess weed makes some people more anxious, but I think a lot of comics become regular stoners because that's how they relieve that anxiety and be present in the moment.

It's kind of bizarre; I do think it can help a performance, but at the same time a lot of people fall into the habit of just smoking pot and hoping that it will spark something funny if they just wing it. I think you have to be more disciplined than that. I'm part of a newer school of stoner where I'm still pretty on it. I'm organized, I make lots of lists; for me it's important that I'm still the guy who gets shit done. I do like being in my own world a bit when I'm performing because then the audience has to come to me.

The point of the Midnight Run show is basically to just pull the rug out from under these comics because you get these spontaneous and special reactions that you wouldn't get with other standup sets. Most likely, the comics are going to be pretty uncomfortable. They can't throw up their defenses or really rely on their act, so they have to be vulnerable. Most of my audiences are 420-friendly if that's what you want to call it -- they're stoners -- so they are simpatico. It's like truth serum. I'll see people go up and try to tell a joke but it's just not the right time to tell a joke, and they'll scramble and start breaking down and telling everyone their deepest secrets. One guy said, "I'm such a fraud."

For comics, it's a reason to watch your friends again. I don't mean to paraphrase Bill Hicks, but I'm gonna: Your act is what you do after you're done; it should be like your last resort. I like crafting a good joke, but it's much more fun to have something spontaneous that you can't recreate.

I read something about you getting heckled during your Comedy Central Half Hour? What happened there?

Yeah, I was just about to finish, and I have this joke about 9/11. There was a guy in the crowd who started booing and I thought, "Well, that's fine; people don't like joking about 9/11." So I kept going and he kept booing, so I asked him, "What are you mad about?" and he said, "I already saw this joke on YouTube."

Oh, man, so he was just an entitled comedy nerd? Not standing on any sort of principle?

Yeah! It's YouTube! Not late night or anything. I don't have control over what gets posted. So he decided to boo and then got kicked out and I closed on a different joke. So it was a little bit of a bummer, but it is a good story. I'm happy with the way they edited the special together.

So, clearly they didn't leave any heckler footage in the special.

No. I almost wish they would have, though. It was kind of funny. Keep reading for more from Andy Haynes.

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Byron Graham is a writer, comedian and gentleman thief from Denver. Co-host of Designated Drunkard: A Comedy Drinking Game, the deathless Lion's Lair open mic and the Mutiny Book Club podcast, Byron also writes about comedy for Westword. He cannot abide cowardice, and he's never been defeated in an open duel.
Contact: Byron Graham