Ashton Tate: Comedian You Should Know
The ‘Comedian You Should Know’ series highlights funny people performing in San Francisco. SF based comic Ashton Tate hosts a comedy show at PizzaHacker every Tuesday and Night Moves at midnight every Friday.
Comedian Ashton Tate
Where are you from, and what are your hobbies?
AT: Orlando, Florida and then I lived in Jacksonville for college and then moved to SF 3.5 years ago. Hobbies include: reading, meditating, boxing, and lifting.
Joe Machi, Bonnie McFarlane, Nate Bargatze and Dave Attell.
When was your first set, and how did it go?
First set ever was in middle school at my school’s talent show. My friends and I performed together, where we told one-liner jokes that intentionally didn’t make sense. One was, “What did the penguin scream when he went down the water slide?….Chocolate milk!!!” We’d then have my friend on the drums go ‘badum psh’. We told these jokes to make our friends laugh because they were in on the joke, none of the parents quite got it. After that, I didn’t do standup again until college.
A funny story about bombing on stage?
One time I was performing at a now defunct place called Our Little Theater here in the city. There were six people in the audience. Three comics, a couple on a date, and my uncle who was visiting. The door to the bathroom was behind the stage, and during my set (which wasn’t going well), a cockroach came out from under the bathroom door and STOLE the show. Everyone just watched it and was wondering “I wonder what this cockroach will do next?” I tried commenting on it, asking it questions, heh, but then going into material while it was still wandering around the room just didn’t work. I’ve had to follow some famous comedians but somehow this was harder given the circumstances.
You’ve also made a lot of videos and have a theme of putting yourself in ‘peculiar’ situations. Care to explain?
Heh yea. I make videos that are written out with actors and a plot/dialogue that I wrote, etc. But I also make videos where I take a concept I think is funny and then do it in public. The first one ever was a guy who does parkour, except he has a pretend baby on his back (Babykour). There was also one where I was a ‘health inspector’ at Chuck E. Cheese who thought the guy in the mouse costume singing happy birthday to kids was a giant rat, and recently I was a metal detector guy who tries to find treasure in public places besides the beach (Metal Detector Guy). I like doing both types: scripted videos, and the man-on-the-street stuff…I’m just trying to keep making stuff that’s funny.
So you like writing, what’s your process like?
Yea! I follow the Morning Pages routine, which is where as soon as you wake up you write down three pages of WHATEVER you’re thinking. It’s therapeutic. I also write for 25 minute increments twice a day for standup. That’s called the Pomodoro Technique.
Any advice for people wanting to make comedy or videos?
It’s said a lot, but ‘just do it.’ Like no matter what. The first two years I lived here I would go to open mics ten times a week. The first year, most of the time, I’d go to a mic not even feeling funny. Maybe I wrote jokes that day but none of them felt funny. It’s so weird when you’re supposed to be funny for five minutes on stage butyou know only 12 seconds of it is going to work, haha! What do you do with the other 4 minutes and 48 seconds? But almost all the time, just the act of knowing I had to perform for strangers would make me come up with jokes out of some self-defense response in my body. This would happen all the time. Similar thing for making videos, try doing it yourself, instead of relying on others. Ask for help definitely, but only if you’ve got everything figured out. People don’t like being put into uncomfortable situations, especially if it’s your idea and not theirs. Making videos is more uncomfortable than standup because a set can last 5 minutes then it’s over, a video can take 30 hours collectively to make. Being uncomfortable for 30 hours is worse than 20 hours, which is worse than 10! But I always ask myself, ‘If I don’t do this? What’s the alternative?’ The alternative is doing nothing, watching TV (stuff made by other people)…realizing that makes it easier to do your own thing.
Where do you perform regularly?
I run two weekly shows in San Francisco. I run a show with Joey Avery at PizzaHacker every Tuesday. And every Friday I run Night Moves at midnight (only midnight show in the city) with Joe Gorman, Andrew Holmgren and Josef Anolin. And please follow me on Twitter, check out/Like my videos on Facebook and Subscribe on YouTube!!!!