Know Your Online Comedy: Dylan P. Gadino, Punchline Magazine

As much as I’d like to think I’m a shining beacon leading you out of the darkness when it comes to covering comedy, well, I am, but I’m not the only one who cares enough about comedy to cover it. Which is why I’m extending my coverage of the comedy business to my colleagues, letting you know a little bit more about them and what makes them tick-tock their way to the funny beat. First up, Dylan P. Gadino, founder of Punchline Magazine. Google tells us Gadino graduated from Elizabethtown College and works as research chief for Life & Style Weekly magazine across the Hudson River in New Jersey. But what else can we learn about Gadino, who recently celebrated the third anniversary of his Punchline Magazine site with a live show at Comix (highlights up today on his site)? Let’s begin the interrogation!

Just who do you think you
are, anyway? (In other words, tell me a little bit about yourself that
I cannot already figure out from reading your Facebook profile, including this photo!)

I’m 31. I’m 5’8”. I was born,
raised and reside in North Jersey, about 10 minutes from Manhattan. I’ve
been married for three years and I’m expecting my first kid in November.
I enjoy stand-up comedy a lot.

What were you doing three years
and a couple of months ago, before you decided to launch
Punchline Magazine?

I was in a cult.

What prompted you to start the

I had been writing for national
music magazines (Alternative Press, CMJ, Billboard, Revolver, etc…)
since senior year of college (1998-99), interviewing bands, reviewing
albums, live shows and the like. I had been in bands since I was 11
years old; I play drums. I started to get tired of writing about music
and thought it would be interesting to start writing about stand-up
comedy, which is something I had an interest in since I saw Bill Cosby:
on HBO when I was a kid. By the time I was in 7th
grade, I was a huge George Carlin fan.

I quickly realized that no publication
was covering stand-up comedy the way magazines had been covering television,
movies and music for decades. I wanted to create a traditional consumer
magazine, that covered nothing but stand-up. That is to say, I didn’t
want to create a site that was strictly a blog. I wanted to create a
cohesive publication that used components found on blogs, message boards
and social networking sites. Still today, I feel no one else is really
doing what we’re doing. There are a handful of excellent blogs that
cover stand-up comedy. I didn’t want to compete with them. So I created
something more in line with what I was used to working with: magazines.

Who did you enjoy most in comedy
then, and how have your own personal tastes in comedy changed over the
past three years?

Three years ago, I had spent
years being a fan of people like Greg Giraldo, Zach Galifianakis, Nick
Swardson, Mitch Hedberg, Stephen Lynch, Brian Regan, George Carlin,
Janeane Garofalo. My taste in stand-up has gotten incredibly broad over
the last three years. I enjoy Maria Bamford, Patton Oswalt, Doug Benson,
Louis CK, David Cross and Todd Barry. But you know, I also get in the
mood for Christopher Titus, Jeff Foxworthy, Ron White and dare I say
it, Dane Cook. Anyone familiar with Punchline Magazine knows
that it is not a fan site; we don’t really play favorites or
cater to one genre of comedy. My job isn’t to force people into reading
about my favorite comedians; my job is to give our readers news and
information about the comedians out there that are making a dent on
the national entertainment scene. And if Larry the Cable Guy is selling
out arenas, I know there’s a few thousand people who wouldn’t mind
reading about the guy, even though maybe I’m not a huge fan of his

But to answer your question more
directly, the comics I enjoy most are the ones that, to me, are complete
packages. That means, these comics make me laugh and think; and they
even make me sad and reflective. Greg Giraldo, to me, is the best comedian
in the country. Marc Maron is a very close second. These two speak to
me. They might not speak to everyone and that’s probably why they’re
not bigger than they should be. But Giraldo and Maron are consummate
artists. They’re brilliant, incisive, funny (of course). But they’re
also incredibly troubled men with a stable of emotions that is rarely
kept in check. They wear their hearts (Maron, especially) on their sleeves.
They’re able to connect with their audience on a much deeper level
than most comedians. And that’s not to say, those other comedians
aren’t just as talented; it’s just that Giraldo and Maron speak
to me. Brian Regan, Mike Birbiglia and Tom Papa are also some of my
favorites. But those are the guys I see or listen to when I’m not
in a mood to think so much. If I just want to laugh, those are the comics
I go to. If I want feel as though I’ve just gone through an hour of
therapy to keep the voices in my head in check, I’ll listen to Giraldo
or Maron.

Did you consider publishing an
actual print magazine, or was your thought always to be Web-based?

I think for a second or two,
I thought it would be great to make Punchline Magazine a print
publication, but really, I don’t see too many advantages—besides
walking into a store, pointing at the magazine rack and being able to
say, “I’m responsible for that.”

What does your wife think of all
of this?

My wife is extremely supportive.
If I’m at a comedy show in the city, I’m usually with her. I’ve
traveled with her to Montreal, Aspen, Washington DC, Philadelphia and
Boston— all for comedy-related events. We visited San Francisco twice
in the last few years; we saw Jim Norton at Cobb’s and Robert Hawkins
at the Punchline comedy club out there. She knows a lot more about stand-up
comedy now than your average comedy fan. She could name comics just
from listening to a few seconds of their bits on my iPod. She’s a
big Tom Papa fan.

How did you go about booking the
lineup for your third anniversary show?

Through the last three years
of running Punchline Magazine, I’ve formed a few decently strong
connections with some great comics who have strong national followings.
So it was really just a matter of asking those people if they’d be
around and willing to do 15 minutes for the anniversary show—and then
hoping no one would get out of town work for that day. Everything worked
out. Not one comic canceled. All of the comics that were on the bill,
with the exception of Laurie Kilmartin (so that’s Giraldo, Robert
Kelly, Judy Gold, Pete Dominick, Ray Ellin, Christian Finnegan and Tom
Papa) have been interviewed for Punchline Magazine.

How do you envision
Punchline Magazine three years from now, when it’s time for your
sixth anniversary?

I’d like for Punchline Magazine
to grow a few more arms. I would like the Punchline Magazine
brand to grow into an organization that creates more live events, gets
involved in charity work and do a little bit more video work on the
web. Right now we do a weekly video interview series called A Tight
Five, where I interview comedians onstage at Comix in New York and our
friends at RooftopComedy edit the footage and package it all nice like.
I’d like to do more of that type of stuff. Also, to steal a line of
thought from Mitch Hedberg, I’ll be celebrating the third anniversary
of you asking me this question.

And finally, do you live in Hackensack
purely for the funny "-ck" sounds in its name?

I live in Hackensack because its
namesake comes from my favorite group of Native Americans: the Hackensack
Indians, which as I’m sure you know were part of the Unami Delaware
Indians. I grew up in Bergen County, NJ; my family is here; my wife’s
family is here and I live a few minutes from the best comedy in the
world without having to pay Manhattan rent.

Related: If you’d like to see Gadino interview comedians on video, check out his series, "A Tight Five," produced by RooftopComedy and shot at Comix.

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.

View all posts by Sean L. McCarthy →