I first came across Josh Rabinowitz performing at Helium Comedy Club in Philly. He was (and still is) a hilarious graduate of University of Pennsylvania and a good man for getting back in touch with us again for a short interview…
I just started doing (comedy) because I had always wanted to, and then I just kept doing it and doing it. I just kept wanting to write new and better jokes and get more comfortable on stage. I had a decent amount of stage fright when I first started and I really wanted to eliminate that.
I feel uncomfortable and weird self-promoting shows of mine on things like Facebook, but overall I think it’s good. They’re definitely becoming a valuable part of comedy for a lot of people. There are tons of great podcasts and Twitters that I enjoy that have helped comedians get their content out to people.
I don’t think there’s any hard rule on any topic. I’ve heard jokes that I find really unfunny about a lot of “taboo” topics and I’ve also heard jokes that I find really funny about all of those same topics. There’s no wrong topic to me, but there is carelessness in talking about them.
I’ve never really enjoyed performing in front of friends or family. Not because of material about them, as much as it adds another layer of pressure. I feel weird performing for them when they know me so well. Because with the strangers in the audience, it’s about establishing who you are with them from nothing, and then my friends and family come knowing a lot of information already about me. In a big crowd, it’s fine to have them, but in a small crowd, it feels weird. And if I were to bomb in front of them, I’d feel much worse than I would normally.
I’ve never been heckled too badly compared to other friends of mine. I’m fairly non-threatening and so I think people would feel bad bothering me. I’m sure that will change as I get older.
I’ve certainly had some terrible bombs. One in particular was in a bar where there was a TV over my head showing a game, and they muted it when the show started. I was the first comic after the host, who did a great job getting them to pay attention. I did my first joke, and I got a pretty decent laugh. Then my next joke got nothing. And immediately everyone in the bar just started talking to each other and ignored me. It was like they were like, “Ok, let’s listen, ok, not bad, eh, not for me, that’s it, no more listening, Josh, you had your chance, we’re done.” Then I just proceeded to talk for another 8 minutes to no laughter, but actually quite a bit of noise in terms of volume considering there were 20 people talking as they all watched the muted game directly over my head. But them talking to each other actually felt a little bit better than the silence of other failed sets.
(interview by Alex Gross)