Christian Finnegan on becoming a NYC headliner

Christian Finnegan is excited to headline Gotham Comedy Club this weekend. I know because I’ve read the emails and MySpace bulletins in which he says so. But Finnegan (best known from VH1’s Best Week Ever) already tours the country’s comedy clubs and college campuses as a headliner, supported by Comedy Central. What makes this weekend different?

Finnegan explained himself to me over the phone this afternoon.

"I don’t get the opportunity to do longer sets around town," he said. "I headline around the country but in the city it’s five minutes here, seven minutes there. Plus, some of my friends will get to see me for the first time in a long while."

"When you start doing comedy in New York and you’re doing weird open mics where someone is reading a poem and then someone gets an enema, and then comedy, you have these dreams in the back of your head about making it big as a comedian and not having to do this anymore. Granted, if you had told me it would’ve taken 10 years, I would’ve quit."

Even now that he’s a NYC comedy club headliner, he still has to make sure he gets the word out amid everything else that’s going on in the city. "It’s not like when you’re playing the Dayton Funny Bone and there’s only two or three options for having fun," he said. "So all I can do is send up as many signal flares as I can."

And that’s not something he does every week. "I don’t do as many spots around town anymore. Or they’re not announced…I try not to just overwhelm people with ‘Here’s where I’m going to be this weekend!’ It’s difficult because it’s your home and you need to work out new bits and you need stage time."

Best Week Ever must’ve really helped you become known enough to be a headliner, though, right?
"It’s been great. It’s helped ease that transition," he said. "A lot of times I’ll play a club for the first time, they may bring me in not beng 100 percent convinced that I’m really a comedian. And of course there’s a bunch of people on Best Week Ever who it says comedian underneath them, they say comedian but who knows what that means. I like going in and proving to people I’m legit. I’m not just some glorifed open miker."

"But it’s defintely opened the doors for me to play clubs…and I will get fans to come in to see me because I’m on Best Week Ever," he said. "But then again, maybe they’ll come thinking they’re going to hear me saying 45 minutes on Tara Reid." Tara Reid?! "I can’t keep up with whatever Britney’s doing this week. I have to write it to do on the show. But I don’t really enjoy late-night monologue material in a comedy club atmosphere. One of the things I love about comedy is you can talk about anything. And I don’t give a s— about that stuff, honestly. It’s fun to talk about on the show, but I don’t sit at home wringng my hands about what’s going to happen on Desperate Housewives."

As he says this, he mentions that he’s about 10 minutes away from starting his portion of the new season of BWE, which airs tomorrow night. Anything new? He doesn’t even know yet. He said ideas tend to come in and out of style on the show, such as planned, written sketches. "I always find those more fun to do," he said. "It’s not just, here’s a topic, here’s people talking, here’s a topic, here’s people talking."

After his big weekend here, he’ll soon be on the road again, with stops in Grand Rapids, Mich., Chicago, Atlanta and Orlando. He said he had mixed feelings about Orlando. "But you know what? They have Jai-Alai there. Oh, I’m really hoping they still have Jai-Alai. It’s like OTB, but you’re betting on people."

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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