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What's Up Magazine

New Beginnings for Comedian Max Rosenblum

Apr 05, 2018 04:00PM
By Riley Rubiano

Max Rosenblum has always been interested in comedy, but it wasn’t until after college that he decided to pursue a comedy career. Originally from Los Angeles, Rosenblum moved to Washington, D.C., after graduation. A dislike for a job led Rosenblum to seek comfort in a new creative way to express himself. He began writing jokes as a hobby, but soon fell in love with performing live. 

Rosenblum started performing stand-up at D.C. area bars and hasn’t stopped since. He’s spent the last six years traveling across the country and entertaining audiences with his self-deprecating humor. Though he still works his day job, he hopes to one day pursue a career in comedy full-time. He’s performed at venues and festivals big and small, including the Kennedy Center, Hollywood Laugh Factory, Cleveland Comedy Festival, and Baltimore’s Artscape Festival.

Max Rosenblum will be performing live at the Avalon Theatre on Friday, April 13th at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 and available here. If you’re looking to enjoy a laugh-filled evening, this is a show you don’t want to miss!

A dislike of a job is what initially led you to pursue standup. Can you tell me a bit more about that?

I moved out to Washington, D.C., after graduating and landed myself in a job because I needed one, just to continue to stay afloat. It wasn’t the industry or the type of job that I wanted so I—making a cliché term—felt empty. I had tried comedy in college once, right before I graduated, so I thought “I’m in a new town, I don’t know many people here and I want to apply myself in another way.” I started doing shows and open mics in the D.C. area, just jumping into it. I didn't take a class, I just had jokes that I had written for years in my notebook and a word document and just started with that. 

It’s one of those things where early on you find yourself in these positions where, as a comedian, you’re new, you perform well, and you want to chase that feeling again. Then as you get better, you’re always going to have times when you don’t perform well and want to rectify that feeling by going up again and doing better. You find yourself in a cycle of wanting to perform comedy all the time to fulfill that creative need and that creative hole, which was the case for an IT government contractor. There was very little creativity in my job so I needed to find that outlet elsewhere and I started in D.C. 

Is standup comedy something you have always been interested in?

I couldn’t have foreseen that I would have pursued it, but as you get better you start having better performances, build more experience, you get more and more opportunities, and validate continuing to pursue it to the point where you’re like, “Wow, I’m not too bad at this. Maybe this is something that I could really give it a go.” 

I spent my first six years of comedy doing it all over Maryland, Virginia, and D.C. and I’ve done comedy in at least two dozen cities in Maryland alone. I, only in the last few months, moved out to California to pursue comedy, writing, and acting as a career. I think D.C. really prepared me for that. It was a great place to start comedy. It also has crowds that are great for giving you feedback. They are intelligent, smart, perceptive, and they are interested in comedy. They want to see quality comedy shows and laugh. The comedy really boomed because there were people looking for that kind of escape. People in the industries that work there are seeking that release and to separate themselves from their jobs and politics and the seriousness of it all. 

Which comedians would you say have influenced you the most? Do you have specific topics that you really like incorporating into your routine?

Some of my influences are people like Woody Allen, Ellen DeGeneres, Joe Rogen, kind of a wide variety of comedians. I’ve been influenced by comedians of all different styles. I would watch and listen to these comedians and I would go “I wonder if I could do that.” 

The people that you tend to hear early on, when you initially start, those are the types of comedians that you find yourself emulating in a way. And as you get more experience, you create your own voice that doesn't mirror or match anyone who is around. You could tell pretty early on in my comedy who my influences were because those were the people that I would watch the most. As you do more comedy and see more comedy, and you open yourself up to new people and learn about people you have never heard of before, you really develop to be more versatile, being less stringent or strict, but you're more free-flowing because you know there is so much out there and that there doesn't need to be one single formula. 

What’s the most difficult part of standup? Is there a show or performance that stands out to you as your best or favorite?

That’s like choosing which one of these ten poisons would you least like to take. One of the hardest parts of comedy, and I think people would agree with me, is the ability to handle rejection. I’ll tell people I do standup and they’ll say “Wow that’s so brave.” In my experience I find that the three bravest jobs one can do is deploy to war, be a firefighter, or do standup comedy. It does take a lot to put yourself out there in your comedy and jokes and the only feedback is from the people there in the room. Every show is individualized. You will never see the same group of people in the same room under the same circumstances, so you can find your results are widely different. 

Russell Howard, a British comedian, and I performed at this 550-person theater. Performing in that type of environment is so amazing and different from your typical type of show when you're just starting. The few shows that I have done with Russell at these venues have been some of my favorites because they've been some of the bigger crowds that I have seen and they validate the work I put in to improve and hone my act. I do feel grateful that in a way I was able to take advantage of that opportunity. 

How has being a comedian impacted your life? What do you love most about performing?

 Outside of comedy I still have a professional career because it’s a tough pursuit. It is something that I hope to one day, make as a full-time career, but right now I have a whole other skill set. One of the ways that comedy has impacted me is that, roughly three years in, I was still uncertain if comedy was for me and whether I should include it on my resume. Around three years in, I thought in what I do (public relations, message creation, social media, marketing, and strategy), comedy is a very relatable and useful skill in being able to take stories and make them compelling for audiences and being able to use words in a specific way to illicit that laughter emotion. Part of that is how you convey yourself. Timing is important, word choice is important. You’re always crafting and writing messages that you are trying to convey to people who have little experience with you. And when you get them to laugh, they get you.

What can your audience expect at one of your shows? What are you looking forward to most about your Avalon Theatre show?

I have a lot of people ask “What’s your thing? What do you joke about?” The overarching thing that I look for is “Do I think it’s funny?” When it’s all filtered out and on stage my persona becomes self-deprecating, in a silly way. I look at my comedy as all these issues I’ve conquered in a way that makes me comfortable with making fun of myself for it. I think that is the core of how I really started exploring those types of topics, but as I’ve gotten better I’ve approached things like politics. I don’t talk a lot about social issues, but I’m not afraid to because I have that comfort.

I’m looking forward to bringing back some old stuff and roll in some of my new material with some of my go-tos. I’m also excited to add credibility to new topics that I’ve never really known about, but over the last year I’ve been able to experience more things and add more depth to my comedy. 

What’s next for Max Rosenblum? Anything we should be looking forward to?

For a year a friend and I ran a show called VENT! In D.C. We had to come up with a concept that would be fun to do on a Friday and we thought “It was the end of the week, people are frustrated, they are going to want to complain. Let’s come up with a show where people can come, get some stuff off their chest, and we can talk about it in a live therapy comedy session.” The show became very popular, people would volunteer the most personal details and it was so funny because as people were able to build trust with us, they would share more and more. People would relate to each other based on their common sense or you would get a debate going.

That show really developed over the year and as I moved out to LA, as there is a bigger scene and market for that, I’m hoping to get that up and running again as a live show in LA, but where the guests are well-known, established, credited comedians. That’s the goal. What’s next is taking the show that we created and taking it to the next level. Hopefully even coming up with a way we could possibly do it on screen and see where it goes from there. 

I’m hoping that a live show can start within the next few months, we are in the process of seeking out our venue. Our YouTube channel will always be an element of it because the video is a great way to reach people that can’t be here with us in person. The video channel will be supplementary content and allow us to do more and pursue other things that aren’t possible to perform live.