Brian Gaar on Austin’s Unique Comedy Scene
People of Austin Profile Series
Austin comedian Brian Gaar has every funnyman’s dream job — he gets to say whatever he wants on television. (Well, almost.) At least that’s the idea behind ATX Uncensored-ish, his brand new comedy show airing nightly at 9:45 pm on The CW, combining Austin-inspired man on the street bits with a traditional late night vibe. Described by Gaar as “an Austin version of The Daily Show with much less talented people,” the show (where he’s joined nightly by correspondents Kath Barbadoro and Joe Barlow) will spotlight the Austin comedy scene, with a huge emphasis on the Austin part. And while ATX Uncensored-ish is still very fresh, Gaar hopes that Austinites will really embrace this innovative concept, and help it grow along with the city they call home. Here, TRIBEZA talks to the Austin comedy veteran about his love for comedy, his nearly 90,000 Twitter followers, and why he’ll never live up to Kevin Hart.
WHY LATE NIGHT?
The network really wanted to do something different that wasn’t local news. Comedy is very rare in terms of local television, and they wanted something funny that was late at night so that the content could be edgier. It’s a show about going out and having fun. But most of all, it’s about Austin.
ON BEING “TWITTER FAMOUS”
I think there’s a certain connotation with being “Twitter famous” which is that you’re an Internet personality. I was doing standup long before Twitter, and don’t get me wrong, Twitter’s great – it really helped get me exposure – but I’m funny in real life, too. I think a lot of people get huge Twitter followings, but then they don’t have anything to back it up in reality. So I think Twitter can be great at opening a door, but then it’s like ‘Okay, well, what do you got?’
AUSTIN’S UNIQUE COMEDY SCENE
It’s just incredible. I’ve been doing comedy for seven years, and the Austin scene is at least three times as big as it was when I started. These days, there’s not just an Austin comedy scene, there are little sub-scenes that have sprung up. People are moving to Austin from bigger cities in order to do comedy because they can get more stage time and the city has a reputation for producing good comedy. Scouts come here to look for that talent, and to find people to book on late shows and send to festivals. As a comic, the people surrounding you are so good that they force you to get better. I don’t think a show like this would have been possible anywhere else – we just have this vast reserve of talent to draw from.
HOW TO BE SUCCESSFUL
Working on a comedy show is very structured, as I’ve come to realize. It’s much different from stand-up in that onstage, if an idea comes to you – great! But there’s not really a lot of pressure. Here, you need to be creative on a deadline, and that’s a new skill that I’ve had to learn as a comic. But it sure beats having a real job.
BE A PART OF THE SCENE
The show isn’t just about us. Okay, it’s mostly about us, but we want to share the spotlight. At the end of each show, we feature a different stand-up clip from a local comic. ATX Uncensored-ish will host a monthly show at Spider House, which will feature four or five local comics, and we’ll use their clips on the show. They get exposure and we’ll have something funny to play.
WHAT MAKES HIM LAUGH?
Pratfalls and pranks are my favorite. Someone slipping and falling is —and will always be — hilarious to me. But I also like humor that is very honest about life, almost like jewels of funny wisdom. I appreciate that comedy helps make sense out of things, and helps people realize that they’re not alone. But my dad’s favorite comic is Kevin Hart. Whenever something good happens to me, I’ll call him up and say, ‘Hey dad, I got this show!’ He’ll say, ‘That’s great! But did you see Kevin Hart last night on Jimmy Fallon?’ I’ll never live up.