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.
There is such a glut of comedy albums this year that I almost stopped listening to any of the onslaught of stand-ups arriving in my email and snail mail boxes. Almost stopped. A couple of weeks ago, I happened upon an audition showcase at The Stand and to what did my wandering eyes and ears hear and see but a remarkable stand-up set from one Andy Sandford (photographed above by Mindy Tucker).
Turns out that showcase set is the appetizer for a full feast of a meal that is Sandford’s stand-up debut album, “Me The Whole Time” (New Wave Dynamics). So many quotable punchlines. From his self-deprecation about turning 30 — “Everyone I knew has thought I was 30 for the last 10 years” — to putting his generation into perspective — “Every generation is lazier than their parents. That’s just progress!” — to breaking up the logic of a “perfect game” in baseball. In fact, Sandford had recorded his stand-up before, a few years ago on Comedy Central Records with “The Beards of Comedy,” but he’s on his own and his comedy is fully matured now. “Me The Whole Time” by Andy Sandford is my new favorite stand-up comedy album. His set-up bit about being broke, the fifth track’s “Money Questions,” is a wonderful lead-in to “Meet Me In New York” as well.
“I live in New York. I have a friend who’s planning on moving to New York, and he called me the other day. He said, ‘Dude. Be honest. How much money does it take to live in New York City?’ And I was like, ‘That is a complicated answer. You know. Because it depends, like, where you live, what kind of lifestyle you’re used to. But, I’ve found it usually takes all of it. Yeah. Just all the money. Sometimes more than that.”
So let’s hear it from Andy Sandford!
Name: Andy Sandford
Arrival date: Aug. 14, 2011
Arrived from: Atlanta, GA
When and where did you start performing comedy? Late 2007. I started at Star Bar in ATL, same place I ended up recording my album.
What was your best credit before moving here? Right before moving here, I recorded my first episode for Aqua Teen Hunger Force, which later turned into more episodes and ended up being animated as myself.
Why did you pick NYC over LA or anywhere else? I love stand up, and NYC is Mecca for stand up. LA has some great shows, but not the volume of here and in such a concentrated area. It is an inspiring place creatively, and stand-up wise: It makes you better. Also, I just love New York and always knew I’d end up living here. There’s no other place like it. LA has better weather for sure, but I kind of like the shitty weather here even though I really hate it. I thrive in adversity.
Did all of “The Beards of Comedy” move to NYC together, or did you arrive separately? I think Joe Z (Zimmmerman) moved her a few months before me, and then TJ Young a few months after me. We had a Beards show at The Creek on Aug 17th of 2011, so I knew I should move here sometime before that, and I managed to get here the 14th with just enough money to buy a futon.
How long did it take to get your first paid gig in NYC after moving here? I’m not sure really. I think I did my first paid spot at a club after just a few months because I knew someone that kinda hooked me up with that, and then passed at my first club maybe after a year or so…but it hasn’t been a building progression of paid shows or anything. Paid spots help out a lot in terms of food money etc., but most of the time I have to leave New York to make decent money.
How is this scene better/same/worse than the scene you moved from? For me, that is an apples/oranges comparison (or rather, Big Apples/Peaches). Atlanta is a great place to get good at comedy. There is a lot of stage time in front of real audiences, and 4 major clubs where there are plenty of opportunities to work with big names. I felt like I rode a great wave while the scene started growing and got a lot out of it. There is a point though where being a big fish is depressing and if you don’t move on, you’re gonna get stagnant. It takes a damn long time to really get settled here, but New York has so many shows (bad ones, good ones, everything in between) and it forces you to get better. I am glad that I didn’t move here very early on in comedy because I feel like NYC is much better for you if you come here with a certain level of competence. I ‘spose it’s like going to grad school after you get your bachelor’s somewhere else…I dunno, I didn’t go to college.
Can you describe an “only in New York City” moment from your experience here? One time, in the Union Square station, this homeless dude wanted to fight me because he didn’t liked the way I said, “Sorry I just don’t have anything, man,” and the situation was defused when he started laughing at that half naked guy who dances to Cher on a boombox.
What tip would you give to any comedian who moves here? Don’t assume people are vibing you or don’t like you: They just don’t know you yet. It takes going out every night for months and months before people realize you actually live here. Once you’re around long enough and let your act speak for how funny you are (and only your act!), people will realize that you’re definitely here and that you’re an alright dude/gal…unless you’re not alright, then don’t come here.
Where do you see yourself five years from now? Alive, hopefully, and with a few more goals reached. Also, maybe 20 pounds lighter. I might be able to pull that off in 5 years.
Here’s another track off of Andy Sandford’s “Me The Whole Time.” This is “McDonald’s Story,” which immediately follows the “Money Questions” track transcribed above.
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