What do they say about New York City: There are eight million stories, and sometimes it seems as though eight million of the people telling them think they’re comedians? No, that’s not it. It is a fact, though, that America’s biggest city is also its biggest comedy mecca. Hollywood may be Hollywood, but New York City is where comedians are born funny, become funny or arrive to thrust their funny upon us. I think we should meet some of these people. This is a recurring feature, a mini-profile of newcomers, up-and-comers and overcomers of New York’s vibrant comedy scene. It’s called Meet Me In New York.
Al Jackson (photographed above by Mindy Tucker) has seen his career progress from school teacher to stand-up comedian, to warm-up guy for Comedy Central’s Live at Gotham to his own Comedy Central Presents half-hour, and now to a spot in this season of John Oliver’s New York Stand-Up Show. Before you see Al Jackson on Comedy Central tonight — or perhaps after you’ve seen him — learn more about him and his career onstage and off.
Name: Al Jackson
Arrival date: Aug. 2006
Arrived from: Miami, Fla.
When and where did you start performing comedy? I started doing open mics in Miami around 2004.
What was your best credit before moving here? I don’t think I had any, I was coming on stage to the dreaded “clubs and colleges” intro; which is code for “guess who still has a day job?”
Why did you pick NYC over LA or anywhere else? NYC was it for me, I had friends there and I knew how much better I could become by moving here.
How long did it take to get your first paid gig in NYC after moving here? Well it’s what you consider paid. If you consider a crumpled up $20 shoved in your pocket for closing out a show payment, probably the first six months. (For tax purposes that is a fictional 20, no one has ever paid me with me directly reporting it to the IRS)
How is this scene better/same/worse than the scene you moved from? I think it’s better. My thought behind this is I don’t think comics waste the early part of their career’s trying to fit into a genre that they’re not ever going to be successful in. I feel like early on in, a lot of comics’ careers, they say to themselves, “These are the people that like me on podcasts, Twitter, etc., they support me and understand what I’m trying to convey. I’m going to focus on THEM.” People are finding their voice and audience earlier now.
Do you already have an “only in New York City” moment yet? Fa sho. I posted a pic of a man dressed like a stormtrooper from Star Wars playing the accordion on the Union Square subway platform. My friend told me that there is another person that dresses up like Boba Fett from Star Wars who plays the horn. My only regret is that I wasn’t there when these two kindred spirits met on a subway platform in NYC.
What tip would you give to any comedian who moves here? This might sound terrible but try keep yourself as free as possible. If possible no boyfriends, no girlfriends, no dogs, etc. Sorry, if your significant other is reading this and thinks I’m a d*ck, but this business consumes almost every waking hour of your leisure time.
Where do you see yourself five years from now? Writing comedy and performing stand-up. It’s all I ever think about. How can I improve, how can I get better? Besides a family nothing else matters homie.
You can follow Al Jackson on Twitter @aljacksoncomedy or keep up with his own site at aljacksonlive.com. Here is a teaser clip from Jackson’s appearance on the John Oliver stand-up showcase show on Comedy Central. Roll it.
Which NYC comedian would you like to see me style and profile next for Meet Me In New York? Send your nominations to: thecomicscomic AT gmail DOT com