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Young Comedian on the Rise: Baltimore Native Drew Landry Returns for Home Show

Jan 11, 2018 04:00PM ● By Nicole Gould
As a young kid, Drew Landry admired the many comedians that graced his TV on the Emmy Award-winning comedy show, Saturday Night Live, so much that he recreated skits and created his own material.

The Baltimore native started to develop his stand-up act after seeing a performance by comedian, Dane Cook. Landry began performing at school talent shows and coffeehouses. Gaining more exposure and by the time he reached 16, Landry was the only kid allowed into the bars and clubs to perform, as long as he had an accompanied adult.   

Only two weeks after graduating high school did Landry truly begin his career, joining Carlos Mencia of Comedy Central’s Mind of Mencia on a nationwide tour. In 2014, the newcomer opened for 2,000 people at the Tropicana in Atlantic City.

Following his tour, Landry attended college, but soon realized it was time to take a serious step in pursuing his career and moved to Los Angeles, California. At 24 years old, this stand-up comedian, not only brings the fresh perspective of a millennial to stage, but delivers it with a contagious energy.

“Audience members can expect a lot of storytelling, a lot of unnecessary filth, and too much yelling. There’s going to be a lot of talk about relationships, a lot of gross stories, and probably too many Kanye references. It’s going to be fun.”
– Drew Landry

In addition to his stand-up comedy, Landry takes his humor off stage, publishing pieces for the websites Total Frat Move and Total Sorority Move, but under a fake name, hoping people don’t correlate his stand-up with the websites. But don’t worry, he also publishes satirical articles on Medium under his own name. 

Catch Drew Landry’s return to Maryland on Saturday, January 13th, 8 p.m. in the Stoltz Listening Room at the Avalon Theatre. Tickets are $20

Starting comedy at 13 years old, where did the interest to become a comedian develop from? Was this something you always set out to do or was there a defining moment that really caught your interest?

To be honest, I kind of always wanted to be a comedian, it’s all I can remember wanting to be. When I was a little kid I was obsessed with Saturday Night Live. I would videotape myself recreating skits. Adam Sandler had an old Weekend Update skit where he gave dumb Halloween costume ideas. I used a cardboard box as a fake desk and videotaped myself recreating the skit word for word. 

Me and my friends would make dumb little short films. When I was little, we filmed a Star Wars spoof that I wrote called “Star Dorks.” I still can’t believe the Academy snubbed us that year.

I was obsessed with comedic actors. I was huge into Jim Carrey, Chris Farley, etc. But, I never really considered stand-up specifically. Then in 7th grade my friend showed me Dane Cook’s HBO special. It was the first time I actually sat down and watched an hour of stand-up and I immediately knew it’s what I wanted to do. I started writing jokes and I did the school talent show a few months later and then just kept going. 

As a comedian, you’re constantly putting yourself in a vulnerable position when you get on stage. At only 16, what was the experience like when you started to perform at bars and clubs?

It’s always scary at first, but you get used to it. But, that was part of the fun. I loved the stage fright, I loved the adrenaline. At first, I was terrified. On top of that, when you’re 16 you have nothing to talk about on stage, so it’s not like my act was good. I mean it wasn’t terrible, but it definitely wasn’t good. All my stories were made up and I didn’t really have my own voice, I was borrowing personas from some of my comedic heroes and seeing if any of them fit me.

Crowds can be brutal. When I was 15 I got heckled at a comedy club. It was my first time being heckled and I was kind of traumatized. This woman in the front row, probably in her 30s, I don’t even remember what she said, but I just remember it stopped me in my tracks. I ended my set early because I was nervous, it was just so embarrassing. That night I thought about quitting. I was just a kid, I was scared. But, you learn to develop a thicker skin.

When did the decision to move from Baltimore to L.A. come about? How has the move helped to advance your career?

I just felt like it was time, it’s where I wanted to be. I had wanted to move to L.A. for a long time. I left college for it. I was having a ton of fun in college, but ultimately, I just wasn’t happy. Maybe it was a dumb decision, but I thought “I got to give this a real shot. Worst case scenario, I can always go back to school, school is always going to be there.”

If you’re a comic, moving to L.A. whips you into the shape. The crowds are tougher and the open mics are brutal. L.A. forces you to adapt. I’ve heard New York is the same way. It really forces you to polish your act. 

How have you continued to develop your craft since the beginning of your career and how would you separate yourself from the other aspiring comedians? What approach do you have when it comes to creating new material? Is there anything you won’t cover?

When I first started at 13, I didn’t have anything to talk about. I would make up cartoonish stories that clearly didn’t even happen because I didn’t have any real experiences to draw from. Over the years, obviously, I’ve developed real experiences that I can talk about. I don’t want to say that my act has gotten “realer,” because it’s still goofy and ridiculous and far from “real,” but the stories are grounded in reality now.

With new material I just kind of get an idea, text to it to myself, and let it bounce around in my head all day. I’ll write it down in my head, then try it at an open mic. Sometimes I realize it’s garbage and I scrap it. Sometimes I realize it has potential, so I keep working on it until it feels finished.

In terms of “things I won’t cover,” I’m not sure. I’ve never consciously drawn a line in the sand like “Ok, I’m never go to talk about this topic,” but there are certain things I guess I don’t talk about because it’s just not interesting for me. 

My act is rarely topical, it’s more personal. I almost never talk about politics, especially now. In the age of Trump, political humor is impossible because it’s waaaaay to easy. Trump jokes write themselves. 

I try to be a total open book. I’m bipolar and I talk about that on stage because it’s really liberating to be open about it. One of my best friends David died recently, it’s been beyond heartbreaking, but I’ve been talking about his death on stage and trying to make it funny. To me that’s a fun challenge, to take a tragedy and see if you can milk some laughter out of it. It’s therapeutic. I hate when comics say “Comedy is therapy,” I think that’s so pretentious. But, it’s definitely a good feeling to take a tragedy and try to find humor in it.

In terms of my own personal problems, there’s pretty much nothing I won’t cover. I’ve talked about my time in the hospital, deaths of loved ones, bad breakups, anything. I don’t want to ever be afraid to get too personal on stage. When it comes to my own life, nothing is off the table. I’ve gotten off stage and thought to myself “Why the hell did I just say all that to a group of strangers?” But, it’s fun to get personal on stage. It’s freeing. 

What was the experience like touring nationally with Carlos Mencia, especially right after graduating high school? Did you learn anything during that experience to help your own career?

It was pretty surreal. I was in sixth grade during the peak of Mind Of Mencia, I loved his show as a kid. To travel and perform with someone I would watch on TV in middle school, it was something else.

Hanging with Mencia definitely taught me a lot. He has amazing stage presence. The way he captivates crowds and has them in the palm of his hand, it’s really impressive to watch. I learned a lot from him, in terms of how to connect with a crowd. 

Back in 2014 I opened for him at the Tropicana in Atlantic City for 2,000 people and I almost crapped my pants. He taught me how to be comfortable with bigger crowds.

How did you get involved with Total Frat Move, Total Sorority Move, and Medium? What type of things do you publish on these websites and does any of it correlate with your comedy career?

Total Frat Move and Total Sorority Move, I got involved with them because a close friend of mine wrote for Total Sorority Move. Oddly enough, it doesn’t correlate with my comedy career at all. I’ve never been in a frat, I definitely don’t have a frat boy personality.

Hell, I dropped out of college, and now I try to write “relatable” articles for college students. Don’t get me wrong, I love it, but it’s totally separate from my stand-up, which is what I prefer. I want to compartmentalize them. It’s almost like it’s two different people. For TSM and TFM I write under fake names. Hell, under TSM I write as a woman. So, if you see a sorority article written by some girl, that girl might actually be me. Stay woke. 

I just don’t want someone to see me and be like “That’s Drew! He writes for the frat website!” and then watch my stand-up and expect “frat” material. They’re going to be disappointed. 

Medium is a blast to write for. I write under my own name because my articles are basically the same vibe as my stand-up and there’s no limit on what I can write about. It doesn’t have to adhere to any type of “brand” or specific subject. I can just write about the random stuff that I’m obsessed with. Kanye West, Eminem, Woody Allen movies, my hatred for our president, it’s whatever topic I want. 

What are you looking forward to most when returning to perform in your home state? What can audience members expect from one of your shows?

Well first off, I love performing at the Avalon Theater. The crowds there are so fun, it’s just a very positive vibe. They’re there to have a good time and no matter what I talk about, they’ll come along with me. That sounds so fake and disingenuous, but I actually mean it. It’s always a really fun crowd. It’s a supportive atmosphere.

With some crowds, you get on stage and it feels like a battle. You have this thought like “Alright, I have to get this crowd on my side.” I don’t feel that at The Avalon, the crowd is already on my side. They don’t even know who I am, but they’re there and they’re ready to laugh.
I’m looking forward to bringing some Baltimore friends to my show. I’m bringing two opening acts. One of them is Chris Logan, I met him back in 2010 and he’s easily one of my favorite comics in Baltimore. He’s a great guy and he’s frickin hilarious. 

The other one is Hannah Pearce, who’s one of my best friends, and she’s a really talented comic, it’s been really fun to watch her develop her act, I’m super proud of her. She’s still new to the game, but she’s a beast. Both of them are going to kill it.

Audience members can expect a lot of storytelling, a lot of unnecessary filth, and too much yelling. There’s going to be a lot of talk about relationships, a lot of gross stories, and probably too many Kanye references. It’s going to be fun.

What can we expect next from Drew Landry?

That’s a good question. I was wondering the same thing.