Rev. Bob Levy
Larry the Cable Guy
Last Comic Standing
Chondra Pierce - A
Piece of My Mind
Live Comedy from the
Laff House: Make
Room for Comedy
Roundup 2 - Bill
Engvall, Jeff Foxworthy
and Ron Shock.
Southern Gents of
Comedy - Ron White,
Vic Henley, Steve
McGrew and Otis Lee
Laffapalooza #6 -
Jamie Foxx, JB
Smoove, Gerald Kelly
and Wil Sylvince
Laffapalooza #7 - Rob
Stapleton, Loni Love,
Jo Koy and James
Laffapalooza #8 -
Rodney Perry, Tony
Paul Mooney -
Russell Peters - Two
Dave Attell - Insomiac
Tour Uncensored -
Dave Attell, Dane
Cook, Greg Giraldo and
Mike Epps -
Jeff Cesario - You Can
Get a Hooker
Kims of Comedy -
Steve Byrne, Bobby
Lee, Kevin Shea and
Alonzo Bodden - Tall,
Dark & Funny
Jim Gaffigan - Beyond
Don Rickles - Speaks
Jackie Mason - The
World According to Me
Jake Johannsen - Jake
This Dot Com
Brad Montague -
Eric Schwartz - Wimp
Kathleen Madigan - In
Drew Hastings - I'm
Just Like You
Jesse Joyce - Joyce to
Marc Maron - Not Sold
Mike Birbiglia - Two
Tom Rhodes - Hot
Jimmy Shubert -
Ron White - You Can't
Oliver Double - Getting
the Joke: The Inner
Workings of Stand-Up
Ed Driscoll - Spilled
Gravy: Advice on Love,
Life, and Acceptance
from a Man Uniquely
Unqualified to Give It
Brad Stine - Live From
Middle America: Rants
from a Red-State
Sandi C. Shore - Sandi
Shore's Secrets to
Stand-Up Success: A
Judy Brown - The
THERE IS NO
Health Inspector -
Larry the Cable Guy
and Bruce Bruce star in
the comedy with
support from Lisa
The Benchwarmers -
David Spade stars with
Nick Swardson, Craig
MacDonald and Adam
Sandler in a comedy
about a three-player
baseball team that
Phat Girlz - Mo'Nique
and Godfrey star in the
comedy about love and
Scary Movie 4 - DeRay
Davis co-stars in the
spoof comedy with
Anna Farris and Regina
The Wild - Eddie Izzard
lends his voice in the
Over the Hedge - Garry
Sykes and Omid Djalili
lend their voices in the
starring Bruce Willis,
who replaces Jim
Carrey as the lead
Little Men - Keenan
Ivory Wayans directs
his younger brothers,
Shawn and Marlon
Wayans in a comedy
that co-stars Tracy
Morgan, Gary Owen
and John Witherspoon.
Wordplay - Jon Stewart
shares his passion for
crossword puzzles in
featuring Bill Clinton,
Bob Dole and Ken
Click - Adam Sandler
stars in the comedy
about a man who finds
a universal remote.
Nice Guys Don't Always Finish Last...
Blazes New Path From Bringer
Comic to Club Manager and
Explains Why Comedy Coaches
Can't Teach You How to Be Funny
By Tasha A. Harris, Editor-In-Chief
It’s one hour before the prime time show on a warm
Wednesday night at The New York Comedy Club and
Buddy Flip, a tall, robust man with jet black hair, sits
at the podium checking in comedians and waitstaff,
while answering phones and greeting walk-in guests.
His easy-going and affable presence would make one wonder how did such a nice guy
end up managing one of New York City’s top comedy clubs? I found part of the answer
in an email I received from Buddy promoting his “Best Stand-Up Workshop Ever” for
The course description looked similar to that of other comedy classes but it was what
Buddy said in closing - that "extra little something" that caught my attention: Let me
explain one BIG difference between me and every other stand-up workshop in NYC. I am the
only comedy class teacher who is also a MANAGER of a major NYC comedy club. I am the only
teacher who can actually put his students on a real live comedy club show even after the
course is over. Only people who run comedy clubs can give you real stage time…No workshop
gives you more STAGE TIME.
Buddy’s confidence and competitive spirit instantly sparked interest, so STM met with
him to discuss how he worked his way up at New York Comedy Club, from bringer comic
to manager and why comedy coaches can't teach you how to be funny.
How did you get started doing stand up?
I started doing stand up in 1990. I had a character that I was performing that
accidentally became the stand up that I am. I lived on the Lower Eastside and was
doing kind of this crazy act, musical character…I was playing a gig on 49th Street at
Alooney’s and upstairs was the New York Comedy Club.
Someone came downstairs from the New York Comedy Club and saw me…and said
come upstairs – they’re having a show. I had this crazy costume on and my guitar. I
had two or three song parodies. I went up there and got the most amazing response.
It was insane. I rocked from beginning to end and Al Martin [owner of New York
Comedy Club] said, “You got to come back tomorrow night.”
I went back the next night and did the same exact thing – dead silence…The second
night I ate it as bad as the first night I rocked it. And then I went back.
What was the name of your character?
Buddy Flip. Some friends and I worked in TV. Communism fell in 1989 and we had this
idea that there was going to be this huge market for American television in Eastern
Europe and me and some friends came up with this fake documentary about this guy
Buddy Flip, who was a lounge singer…we spent six months videotaping and nothing
ever came of it but in the interim, I went out and performed as Buddy Flip on the Lower
I had an acoustic guitar and I would sing a Led Zeppelin song, a Neil Diamond song, a
bubble gum pop song. It was just this weird stuff but it wasn’t stand up because it
didn’t have the jokes and the laughs. It was that Lower Eastside, “ha-ha, isn’t that
funny?” kind of thing. I went to do New York Comedy Club and then I fell into stand up
and I kept doing it.
So this is your home club?
Oh yeah. I’ve had my finger in this club a long time. In 1990, I started out. I did a ton
of bringer shows. Al Martin invented the bringer show.
People mocked Al Martin for doing it and now everybody does it. (He leans over into the
tape recorder) Are you getting that? Everybody does it!
Are the bringer shows any different today than when you were doing them?
Back then, I think there was a $5 admission and…you actually got $2 or $3 for
everyone that came to see you.
"I can only talk for [Al Martin] but I can’t talk for
other club owners...I think there might be a
commonality there: No one likes the “I’ve been
doing it two years and where’s my spot” guy."
How did you get past the bringer stage?
That is the toughest question in my class. There is no formula…You have to do
something extra. When I first started, I did songs. I didn’t even do parodies.
Sometimes, I would just do the theme from Mr. Ed. Al would put me up twice in a show
and I run back up and do Gilligan’s Island. Al liked me for that because it was kind of
like a novelty.
Then I started doing the bringer shows. I got worse before I got better. You know when
you begin, you have no concept of what you’re doing wrong, so everything feels great
and right and then you learn how the craft works…I did the bringer shows and I wasn’t
going to get spots on the regular show. You don’t do comedy for one or two years and
Everyone on our shows – most of the people who have passed, have ten or more years
[experience.] I tell so many comics that – I did get a little mad like so many people
do: I deserve spots. I’ve brought so many people. It’s a trade. You bring the people
and you get your time. That’s really it.
So anyway, I produced my own show. I produced The Buddy Flip Variety Show once a
month and I did it for 15 months at New York Comedy Club – at the old club and when
he moved here…I had a lot different friends from downtown, who had crazy acts…I
would find crazy stand ups like Mike Bochetti or Steve Arons because they were colorful
and crazy. I would get my people and have them bring people. I would hustle the
(He leans back over into the tape recorder.) Let me tell you one thing that you have to
understand: Nice postcards will bring no one. You have to bring your friends. You have
to make friends and bring friends.
…You open up the paper and you got $20 bucks to go see something and either it’s
the Schwarzenegger movie or “I ain’t ever heard of this.” "I’m going to go to the
Schwarzenegger movie. I’ve heard of that." That’s what audiences do. The audiences
like to play safe with their money and if they don’t know it, they probably won’t go to it,
even if the postcard is shiny and gold and gets their attention. It’s not going to make
them leave their homes in six days to come see you.
Every month for 15 months, I got people. I had shows with 15 people in the audience
and I had shows with 70 people in the audience. Al liked that I tried. He liked that I
kept doing it. He completely hated me as an act – liked me as a person.
But you know what happened at the end 15 months? I was passed in the club. I never
physically auditioned for it. I was passed because for 15 months he watched me make
an effort to produce a show and put some butts in chairs for him. He didn’t see me
hanging around going, “Hey, why don’t you put me up? I’m funny.” Instead of trying to
get my opportunity from him, I made my opportunity.
I went further than that. When he opened this club here, he wanted a video system. I
used to videotape weddings and I had an old camera and deck. Me and another
comedian, Rob Falcone, who was a carpenter, built a box cage and we put the camera
in it and for a little while, I used to make a few bucks for everyone wanted a tape at
the bringer shows. But Al and everyone else who worked at the club got to use it for
nothing. Al saw me make this effort. “Here’s a piece of equipment I don’t use. You can
In 1994, he had a prom season and I remember that I was able to come and do an
entire prom season for no money. I didn’t get paid. I came here five nights in a row,
starting at 1am. At the time, I might have had 15 minutes of material. They put me
onstage for 25 or 30 minutes, five times a week where I used to get spots two times a
week. Al didn’t mind because I did it for nothing. I showed up every night at 1am, five
nights for six weeks. I didn’t mind because I wanted to do it. Stuff like that is all extra.
So what I say at one point in my course is to “do something extra.” Produce a show. Go
out of town. I’ve driven all over the Eastern Seaboard to work because I want to work.
It depends on what your goals are. If your goals are to be a Premium Blend or a TV
comic, then you want to stay in the City. You want to work on your seven minutes. You
want to work on a style.
I wanted to be a comic. I had a good car. I wasn’t popular around these parts so I hit
the road. I’ve driven to Clarksville, TN, Atlanta and Tallahassee in a car. I’ve slept in
car a few times on the road because I didn’t want to spend $25 for a hotel because I
wanted it and I went where I could get it.
At the same time without realizing it, I was
earning Al’s respect because he sees me going
out on the road and he hears me, I was down in
Charlotte for The Comedy Zone. I was at The
Funny Bone in Pittsburgh. He knows what you’re
doing and he respects that about comics. I can
only talk for him but I can’t talk for other owners.
But I think there might be a commonality there:
No one likes the “I’ve been doing it two years and where’s my spot” guy.
A nice end to this whole ramble is about two or three years ago, I was working at the
New York Comedy Club in Boca Raton. I was headlining and Al was there. It was like a
headlining audition. Al was going to watch me to see if I could do it. After the show, he
said, "When you first came along, I thought you were a nice guy. I thought you weren’t
funny at all. Now watching you, you’re a comic and you’re funny. You might even have
seven minutes in there for TV."
It was a nice come around full circle but that’s a 15 year circle. And if you’re 27, 15
years is like half your life.
How did you transition from your musical act to stand up?
It wasn’t a great transition because when I started I kept my guitar, doing mostly
songs. I got jealous of the comics without guitars because they could talk and get
laughs quicker than I could play guitar and get laughs.
When you do a song parody or original song, you have to set up two or three measures
to get to the funny part. You can get to a verbal joke much quicker. That’s why on the
road, I use parodies. People like parodies because when they hear the chords at the
beginning of the song, they recognize the song and they’re ready for the parody. With
an original song, it’s even tougher because you actually have to hold their hand and
bring them to the funny part.
I started putting more spoken word and less music in my act…If I do 45 minutes, I’d
say 15 is guitar. I have a little at the beginning, a little in the middle and a little at the
end. That’s the great thing about stand up. You can work on it forever.
What is your writing process?
I would say I write onstage. I’m not the most disciplined guy. I don’t sit down everyday
and write like you probably should. I just try to have pen and paper with me at all
times, so any moment something pops in my head, I can just jot it down. That’s the
most important thing for me. At this point, I’ve learned to look for signals that tell me
something is funny…
When does a comic finds his voice? I’ve heard five years, 10 years…
It’s really hard and I don’t think there is an actual number on it. Some people will
never find their voice. That’s a horrible thing to say.
No, that’s a different answer.
There are variables in comedy that we don’t talk about. It’s very weird. It’s a skill. I will
never be able to sculpt. I can play guitar. I can play the drums. I can tell jokes. I will
never be able sculpt. It is not a skill or a talent.
We don’t talk about that amongst ourselves. Sense of humor, comedy is a natural
skill. Some people have it more than others but we don’t say that. There’s a veneer of
that it’s all very equal. It’s not all very equal. Some people are funnier than others.
Finding your voice is one of the most difficult things to do. Even to this day, I would say
I have not got a firm handle on my voice or I think my voice is too vague.
So it’s a work in progress –
Some people right away find it. You can use a simplistic example like Rodney
Dangerfield, who was absolutely brilliant, yet his voice is so simple and clear. If the
audience can figure you out in 30 seconds, you’re set.
I work with a lot of comics on the road and they have a physical attribute that is the
act. I know you might say, “Are you telling me that some fat comic coming out doing
40 minutes of fat jokes is a voice?” Yeah. It is a voice. That’s his voice. That’s what he
is. He’s a fat comic.