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.
I first got to know Joe List when I lived in Boston as a reporter at the Boston Herald and he was a young stand-up comedian regularly featuring/opening at the old Comedy Connection in Fanueil Hall. List moved to New York City two months before I did with two other Boston comics — they’ve since returned to Massachusetts — and they let me crash on their air mattress while I found my first NYC apartment. Full disclosure about fun times from 2007.
Fast forward to now, and in between List made a living on the road as much if not more than he did in the big city, often traveling as Nick DiPaolo’s middle for years. He’s recently added more NYC clubs to his regular rotation, and just last week, his network TV debut on Late Show with David Letterman. His other TV credits include two stints at Gotham Comedy Club, both old (Comedy Central’s Live at Gotham) and new (AXS TV’s Gotham Comedy Live). He also put out a CD two and a half years ago, “So Far No Good.” I thought it was pretty good!
You can see what else are up his sleeves via his webseries, “The Ultimate Worrier,” or his weekly podcast with fellow stand-up Mark Normand, Tuesdays with Stories!
Name: Joe List
Arrival date: April 1, 2007
Arrived from: Boston, Mass.
When and where did you start performing comedy? I started performing comedy at an open mic in Boston called Chops Lounge.
What was your best credit before moving here? My best credit before moving to New York was probably opening for Dane Cook. I also had seen Goodfellas and Forrest Gump over 100 times each at that point.
Why did you pick NYC over LA or anywhere else?
I picked New York over LA because I could drive to New York from Massachusetts. In fact, I drove back to Boston every two or three days for the first two years I lived here. I had always been obsessed with New York when I was a kid because of Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese movies. I also was terrified of LA because of the Reginald Denny footage.
How long did it take to get your first paid gig in NYC after moving here?
I was fortunate to get paid gigs pretty early when I first moved to New York because I had been opening for Nick DiPaolo for a couple years, and he did a weekend at Caroline’s right when I first moved here so that helped me get into that club real quick.
How is this scene better/same/worse than the scene you moved from?
The New York scene is better because obviously there are way more places to get onstage in New York. You can do 5 sets every night of the week in New York and you can even get paid to comedy on a Monday or Tuesday in New York, that doesn’t really happen in Boston. The nice thing about comedy in a city like Boston is you can really get to know every comedian in town. New York there are so many and more coming every day that it’s hard to keep track of everybody’s name…I apologize if you’re reading this and I’ve forgotten your name at some point…although I do sometimes call people ‘buddy’ even though I know you’re name…so if I saw you and said ‘hey buddy’ it doesn’t necessarily mean I forgot your name…but it might mean that…anyway I love both cities…New York is better.
Can you describe an “only in New York City” moment from your experience here?
Recently I was performing at LOL Comedy Club and got into it with some drunk assholes in the audience. They got kicked out, I left right after my set and then 10 minutes later I’m riding next to them on the A train. That felt very New York to me. (They didn’t see/recognize me)
What tip would you give to any comedian who moves here?
I would tell any comedian that moves here to just try their best to jump right in. I spent so much time sitting in my bedroom and driving back up to Boston for the first couple years I lived here, which was a big mistake. Contrary to some beliefs I think the New York scene is an incredibly welcoming and thoughtful scene. Just start showing up, hanging out and introducing yourself to people. There are really great people in this scene. And also don’t be an asshole. I love you. Bye.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Hopefully not worrying so much! Unless it keeps him funny, of course. List stars in a webseries, “The Ultimate Worrier,” a take-off of the now late wrestling champ, The Ultimate Warrior.
List performs at clubs all over New York City, and is frequently on the road at a comedy club near you.
You can see his network TV debut on Letterman again tonight. Earlier this spring, List also performed on AXS TV’s Gotham Comedy Live from, you guessed it, Gotham Comedy Club. For that live pay-cable feeling. Roll the clip!
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