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.
On my most recent trip to Los Angeles, I ran into many friendly faces while hanging out late one weekend night on the patio of The Comedy Store. Plenty of faces I only see in Hollywood or on the road at a major festival, some faces I already see in New York but were visiting the other coast for pilot season, and some faces I hadn’t seen since they’d moved west. Among the latter: Thomas Dale, who, fresh off a set at the Store, excitedly told me and a friend how funny it was that he had to go to Hollywood to find his most authentic self onstage. You know, because of the whole cliche reputation for fakeness that is show business in the capital of show business. I wanted him to explain himself, so I asked Dale to share his odysseys with us since going Hollywood.
In the almost five years since his Meet Me In New York profile, Dale also took plenty of trips west to perform on E!’s Chelsea Lately, CBS’s The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and Adam Devine’s House Party on Comedy Central. Dale also released his first comedy album, “Love, Me.” He’ll appear later this year telling a story on the new season of This Is Not Happening on Comedy Central. And in the next couple of weeks, Dale is returning to New York to film his first hour special — King of Hearts — May 2, 2017, at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. Get free tickets here.
Without further ado, take it away once more, Thomas Dale!
Name: Thomas Dale
Arrival date: Jan. 5, 2013
Arrived from: New York City
How long did it take to get your first paid gig in LA after moving here?
“My first paid gig was $7 at the Hollywood Improv.”
How is this scene better/same/worse than the scene you started in?
“I started in the NYC comedy scene. Let me start off by saying I’m so grateful and honored that I got my chops in NY, I feel blessed that I did 6 yrs of the NY grind. I barked, did bringers and mics until ultimately being birthed a comic and working at every club in NYC except Comic Strip, I got kicked out and banned from there (That’s when I realized I was really good).
The LA comedy grind is just as cool and hard as NY no matter what NY comics say. These LA comics are putting in just as much sweat and tears as us over on the east, it’s just a different dance. When I moved here I was ready for something new, I was tired of my own comedic voice and I needed a new challenge. I was so excited for the new unknown environment. I knew I was going to go from getting weekly spots at places like the Cellar, Carolines and Stand Up NY to lingering around the Comedy Store not getting the respect I knew I deserved but I was OK with that because I respected the line of comics waiting patiently and putting in their time in LA. In my mind I didn’t deserve shit, I had to prove. And that excited me. I got all the recs from people like (Chris) D’Elia and Jerrod (Carmichael) but still I knew I needed to put in the time and I was glad to. I did people’s bar shows and privately-produced shows to show what I do. I even did the 3-min audition spot at a mic at Flappers even tho I was fresh off JFL New Faces and already did my Late Night on TV. I did it with a smile and the comics and bookers gave me my spots. The LA scene will reward you if you’re good and patient. Famous helps, too, but that will come. Everything I’ve gotten in LA is because of the stage. In my efforts to prove who I was as a comic I unexpectedly became better. I started to get real, who knew that I needed to move to LA to get real. Ironic.”
If you lived and performed in NYC, how would you compare working as a comedian in Hollywood to that previous experience?
“You make more money in NYC doing spots but in LA the stage time is so valuable that you actually wind up exploring more and performance art is not only appreciated in LA, it’s expected. That’s what I love about LA, it isn’t just the fake tinsel town….It truly bleeds art.”
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?
“When I got a job as a full-time writer and performer on Chelsea Lately and was able to quite my waitering job I felt that. But the thing that was hard to explain to my family and friends was that I didn’t feel any different. I was making a lot of money and getting recognized but I still felt like the same crazy, worried, never satisfied Thomas.”
What tip would you give to any comedian who moves here?
“Be patient, respect the comics who’ve been living here and know that you are owed NOTHING no matter what TV credits or accomplishments you have.”
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
“With my own show and enjoying the respect I’ve worked very hard for.”
Thomas Dale records his first hour special on May 2, 2017, at the Music Hall of Williamsburg.
You can buy Thomas Dale’s “Love, Me,” wherever you buy your comedy…
…and also sample some tracks below:
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