People were going Hollywood long before Bing Crosby starred in the 1933 film musical Going Hollywood. Certainly, though, countless unknowns have packed their bags and moved to Los Angeles in the years and decades since then, hoping for show business to discover them and make them a star! New York City may be the city everyone goes to make it there before making it everywhere, but Hollywood remains the place where stars are born and made. It’s Show Business, USA. This is a recurring feature, a complementary West Coast version of Meet Me In New York, The Comic’s Comic’s mini-profile of newcomers, up-and-comers and overcomers of the Southland surrounding Los Angeles. It’s called Going Hollywood.
I heard André du Bouchet‘s voice before I knew much about him, or about his unique place in the New York City comedy scene. I’d been scouting for apartments for my own move to the city, and other comedians who’d made the trek from Boston before me wanted to show me around. That Tuesday night in 2006/2007, before heading back to Port Authority, my tour guides brought me to Rififi, where du Bouchet and friends were holding court in the back room with their Giant Tuesday Night of Amazing Inventions & Also There Is A Game! I didn’t know what to make if it, or this dive in the East Village, but all of the cool comedy kids wanted to be a part of it.
Du Bouchet ultimately joined an even cooler comedy crew as a writer for Late Night with Conan O’Brien, just in time to make the big move to Burbank for The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien, and stayed through it all to TBS and today, where he’s still a writer and occasional performer on Conan. Just this week, he played an audience member who loved Eric Andre’s impromptu monologue jokes.
Roll the clip.
Du Bouchet continues to perform his character-based comedy in clubs and alt venues when he can. His follow-up to 2011’s “Naked Trampoline Hamlet” just came out last month: “20-Sided Guy” on aspecialthingrecords, with each track recorded in a different venue. Why? “I perform in actual comedy clubs about as often as I look in the mirror naked and nod approvingly,” said du Bouchet. “Most of the time I find myself performing in bars or small theaters, and I wanted to capture a variety of those rooms. Also, as I learned from my first album, making a live audience sit through an uninterrupted hour of my material should probably be a violation of the Geneva Convention.”
Fortunately, this Going Hollywood profile is a quick and delightful read, so let’s get to it!
Name: André du Bouchet
Arrival date: March 2009
Arrived from: New York City
When and where did you start performing comedy? I co-hosted both my junior high school and high school variety shows in 7th and 12th grade, with no other performing experience in between. Then in college I got into an improv troupe during my sophomore year, and that’s when I really became addicted to comedy and being on stage.
What was your best credit before moving to California? Before the permanent move to L.A. in 2009, I had done a little back-and-forth between the coasts to work on a show called Talkshow With Spike Feresten in L.A., and I also worked for a brief time on Best Week Ever in NY.
How is this scene better/same/worse than the scene you started in?
I would say that both scenes I was/am a part of have lots of cool, talented people, but in general I would say that the NY scene I was a part of (1996-2008) was more geared towards working out your material, and the L.A. scene seems much more oriented towards getting “noticed” by industry. I’m very glad I spent so much time in NY doing comedy, because I feel like it helped me stay focused on what my comedic identity was rather than “who am I trying to impress”. Also, the NY environment of being surrounded by so many people, the sheer population variety and density, means you’ve got a lot more fodder to write about. Out here, everyone you’re surrounded by is in show business.
Since you lived and performed in NYC first, how would you compare working as a comedian in Hollywood to that previous experience?
I do far less performing out here because of the mental and creative demands that my job places on me, but in general I would say that everyone out here is much more savvy with regards to industry. Like I mentioned above, the comics aren’t just working out material and figuring out what makes themselves tick, they’re actively attempting to present a certain “brand” to industry people so they can get cast in certain things, etc. The same goes for the people who are producing shows — instead of some comic running a room in a bar, you have people who label themselves “producers” who are creating stand-up shows with an eye towards packaging them as potential TV shows, etc. They’re still talented and nice people, but they are more business-minded.
Was there a moment when you felt your life and career really had “gone Hollywood,” and how do you explain it to friends or family back home?
I don’t really feel like I’ve gone Hollywood at all! Working at Conan, I’m surrounded by a lot of very down-to-earth nice people, and it’s been a protective bubble from the seedier showbiz side of things.
What tip would you give to any comedian who moves to Los Angeles?
Ooh boy, I don’t know. I only moved out here because work pulled me out here. I don’t regret it at all, but if it weren’t for getting hired to write for Conan I’d probably still be in New York. I would say definitely have a job in place before you move, or at least have a concrete plan before you move. Don’t just come out here to see what happens. Being a struggling comic doing the crappy dayjob while performing at night routine is a lot more satisfying and fun in NYC than in L.A. Out here I feel like people get depressed fast if they’re not working.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
I’d like to have a 3rd comedy album under my belt, and other than that it’s tough to say! You can’t predict anything. I could very well still be writing for Conan, or any of a number of other things. Heck, I could be working as a secretary again, who knows! Showbiz, baby.
Here’s a reel from du Bouchet of his recent acting/writing work. Enjoy!
And here’s a track off of his new stand-up album, “20-Sided Guy.” This is “String Bean Toddler Train Wreck.”
Check out the whole album, just in time for holiday gift-giving and receiving!
Is there a comedian in Los Angeles that you’d like to see me style and profile for another installment of Going Hollywood? Send your nominations to: thecomicscomic AT gmail DOT com