Andy Haynes on Midnight Run, 9/11 jokes and getting heckled during his own comedy special
Andy Haynes is a veteran of several standup scenes, moving from Washington, D.C., to Seattle, then from New York to Los Angeles, cultivating his sharp joke-telling style and putting in strong appearances on Conan and the Comedy Central Half Hour. Haynes is also known for his Midnight Run comedy showcase, which gets comedians unreasonably stoned and then lets them sort through the weirdness onstage. A natural fit for the Sexpot Comedy brand, Haynes is in town this week to bring his Midnight Run showcase to an appreciative and equally stoned Denver audience. In advance of the April 17 date, Westword talked with Haynes about Midnight Run, 9/11 jokes and getting heckled.
Westword: Are you doing any other shows while you're in town besides Sexpot?
Andy Haynes: No, it's just a one-nighter, which is too bad because I love Denver. I wish that I had a couple more gigs in town. I was going to stay all weekend, but I'm booked somewhere else the next night, out of town. Unfortunately, I'll have to fit all my brain-damaging into one evening, rather than have a whole Denver weekend to damage my brain.
So, is this a special road installment of the Midnight Run showcase you've been running in L.A. for a while now -- or do they just have the same name?
No, it's a road installment. I started doing it more on the road than in L.A., though we will be doing a show on the 20th in L.A. because of the holiday or whatever. I kinda like to do it more at festivals. I did it at Riot L.A. and Sketchfest, then at South by Southwest. I'm doing it at Sexpot, there's that 4/20 show, and after that it'll be at Bridgetown.
Have you had any comics react adversely to getting too stoned before performing? The reactions in Denver might be less dramatic because being too high is basically a default mode for a lot of the comics here.
Yeah, when we started the show -- and it's kind of still run this way -- it's more fun to get someone who's not a regular stoner to do it. It's even more fun to get someone who never smokes weed, that's the best. When I started the show in New York, and there were a couple of people -- and we still occasionally get them -- who would smoke weed for the very first time ever before going up. At the Riot L.A. show, Whitmer Thomas, who's part of this group called Power Violence, he went up after smoking weed for the first time and tried to do standup. That's the best.
I've had a couple people react badly. One person looked like they were going to faint; I've had people ask to get off stage early. Last year when we did it on 4/20 in Portland at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival, and I was just about to put Andrew Orvedahl onstage, he ran up to me panicking and said, "I can't do it." I think Adam Cayton-Holland had to walk him around the block a couple times to calm him down. They were gone for hours. Orvedahl kind of went to the dark side but I was too involved with the show to take care of him. That's probably the most dramatic response to the show I've seen.
That's funny. Orvedahl's one of the few Denver guys who wouldn't take to that format like a duck to water. That's no way to represent Denver.
Yeah, he's not a big pothead, which is part of the goal. You want those people that aren't super comfortable with it. There's a few people that are regular stoners, and being high makes them better. Rory Scovel, who just did Sexpot, for example, tries to do the show whenever he's in town. He's just phenomenal in that environment. There's two different caveats that change the vibe of the show, which are: How stoned is the audience and also how stoned are the comics? I try to make sure we don't get, like, brain-dead, before the show really happens. I try really hard to keep the energy up with the comics and the audience. Sometimes I have to do like audience coaching -- I'll go in and tell them, "Hey guys, you need to step it up because these comics are freaking out back here."
Keep reading for more from Andy Haynes.