The Many Hats of Comedian Brett Hamil
Brett Hamil is the model of industriousness. Between touring as a stand-up, producing his “award eligible” podcast Ham Radio, and writing for City Arts Magazine, there are lots of irons. Wednesday February 6 he will be headlining Laff Hole at Chop Suey. The show will be hosted by Dan Duarte and Devin Badoo of the Humor Program. Doors at 8:30, show’s at 9PM. Tickets are $10.
Laff Hole, and the People’s Republic of Komedy has had a long-lasting and important impact on Hamil’s career. He’s been involved with countless shows, but it’s been years since he has last headlined. He is excited for this particular Laff Hole partly as a tribute to his friend Tristan Devin, whose tragic death in November of 2012 leaves PROK, as well as the Scratch Deli on 12th Ave on in the difficult position of picking up the pieces. “[Devin] really was an inspiration, and still is,” said Hamil. “I think about him a lot and it motivates me to try new and cool things.”
This is the third year of Ham Radio. Anybody that has spent five minutes on iTunes knows that there are more comedy podcasts than stars in the sky. If you’re not already famous, the only way to be the cream on floating on the milk is great content, and maybe a good amount of luck. For Hamil that luck came by way of the Earwolf Podcast Network. Within the first year of producing Ham Radio the show was selected to be on the Earwolf Challenge.
“Each week you would have to submit to different challenges. They would have big names in the studio. We did it all by skype, and I got to interact with people like Paul Scheer and Paul F. Tompkins, said Hamil. (Matt Besser was the host.) Though the he was eliminated in the third week (respectable), this exposure took Ham Radio to a much wider audience. “That got me into the lower-lower middle class of comedy podcasts in terms of listeners,” he said.
Ham Radio is twenty minutes or so of sketch comedy. It’s mostly Hamil behind the mic, doing multiple tracks. Sometimes he has other comics on the show. (e.g. Owen Straw and Travis Vogt.) “When I made the podcast I wanted to make it not just a comedian gabfest,” said Hamil. “I wanted to make it tightly produced sketch comedy that would reward the listener listening to it actively.” Doing it right means it takes time. The show comes out more or less monthly, much in line with shows of it’s ilk like Superego, or the Dana Gould Hour, or the Pod F. Tompkast.
Another part of Hamil’s diversity is writing a regular humor column for City Arts. When Leah Baltus (Editor in Chief) took over, Hamil sees her as having shaken things up — having given the magazine a new relevance. “[Baltus] made it so much hipper, and more readable. Something that embraces much more of the culture,” said Hamil. ‘She had me write an essay for the holidays. A little test run.” That panned out and now he has a monthly column, as well as other articles for the printed magazine as well as its online presence. One of his recurring pieces that often showcases local talent is his “Tweets of the Week”column.
Hamil’s been writing for City Arts since right about the time he quit his day job to pursue comedy full time. Quitting his office job to tell jokes professionally had its own measure of terror. “It took a while before I wasn’t looking at my calender three months out and freaking out,” he said. “You get the fever… Now the bookings come in regularly enough. Laughs in Kirkland is like my home club. (He features there regularly.) The thing is, being good on stage and getting consistent laughs isn’t enough anymore if you want to make it as a comedian.
“With stand-up comedy it’s not enough to just be a good comic. I know a hundred really funny stand-up comics, but can they write, can they produce, are they reliable, can they act? Can they see a project through from start to finish? Comics are slackers because you get up on stage and make people laugh for a half an hour or forty-five minutes and it’s like you’ve done your job. It’s easy to get lazy. That’s not enough anymore,” he said.
That means going on the road to the strange outskirts of Washington. That means putting your whole heart into your podcast.
Hamil is excited to have his next event happen here in Seattle. Once again it’ll be a Laff Hole, under the giant dragon of Chop Suey, with the smart and diverse audience of Capitol Hill. It’s intimate, and there’s a warranted expectation that the crowd is going to be hipper, and more liberal, and tolerant. It’s the kind of place where comics can really play to a smart audience. “It’s really fun to see guys come into town,” he said. “There was a moment in Pete Holmes’ set where you could see this look pass over his face like, “oh, there’s a lot of stuff that I can do with this crowd that I can’t do in, you know, the “Chuckle Shack.” Once you see a comic realize the crowd — that they’re into this, they’ll come along, it’s one of the great things about the show.”
Follow Brett Hamil on Twitter @bretthamil
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