Comic relief

The newbies

Think accounting is hard? Try standup

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The pros

It's not all giggles and rubber chickens

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The vets

These are not the ravings of a lunatic

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Profile: Ryan Vaughn, adjunct professor

“Comedy is more than just punch lines. There’s a cultural significance to it.”

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Profile: Matt Ritter '01

“Stage has always been my comfort zone.”

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Profile: Jen Kwok '04

“I’m lucky because I’m starting to make a living at it, three or four years into my career.”

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Profile: Aaron Gold '10

“I try to take bad things that happened to me and turn them into comedy.”

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Profile: Adam Hunter

“Literally, my job is to say whatever I want.”

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Profile: Avi Liberman ’93

“Everybody has off nights, but when it’s working, it’s a great feeling.”

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Profile: Paul Morrissey ’96

“I basically kind of failed upwards.”

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Profile: Andy Kindler '78

“When I’m elderly, please come see me when I’m playing the condo circuit in Florida.”

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Profile: Paul Reiser ’77

“I know what really good comedy should sound like now. I’m tougher on myself.”

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Return to the first page of the Cover Story.

Profile: Adam Hunter

“Literally, my job is to say whatever I want.”

Comic relief
Brett Vermilyea
Standup is a great job for Adam Hunter. He says what he wants and gets paid for it.

Standup comedy has given Adam Hunter a life he never dreamed of.

He’s done four overseas tours for Armed Forces Entertainment, performing for troops in Japan, Korea, Bahrain, Djibouti, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

A short list of his television appearances include being a finalist on NBC’s Last Comic Standing, performing standup on Showtime and The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn, acting in sketches on Late Night with Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Kimmel Live, hosting his own show, Man Up Stand Up, being profiled in MTV’s True Life.

Perhaps best of all, he gets paid to express exactly what’s on his mind.

“Literally, my job is to say whatever I want,” he says. “And no one has that freedom at his job.”

Hunter started thinking about a career in comedy in his freshman year at Binghamton University. He created a show on BTV, Binghamton’s television station, called D’s Nuts, in which he and five of his wrestling teammates would make fun of each other and their classmates. After one show ended with a student suing Hunter for $20 million and Binghamton University for $40 million (this is Hunter’s version and has not been independently verified), Hunter thought he might be on to something.

“That was my foray into show business,” he says. “I thought, ‘This is the most fun. I can’t believe I could actually do this for a living.’ My dad was like, ‘you go to school for one month and come home with a $20 million lawsuit? What the hell is wrong with you? Can’t you just go to class?’”

Soon Hunter was in New York City, performing in dive comedy clubs and working the streets, handing out fliers for the clubs. He didn’t mind, except when he saw people from school.

“The worst part was that it was in the Theater District, so I would see ex-girlfriends from Binghamton on their way to a Broadway play all done up and they’d ask, ‘How’s it going?’ ‘Great. I’m at Hamburger Harry’s. Here’s a flier.’”

It wasn’t long before Hunter was off the streets and on his way up. He was profiled in MTV’s True Life: I am a Comic in 1999. Shortly after, he won Funniest Comic in New York and was flown to Los Angeles to perform at the Improv. Anthony Clark of the television

sitcom Yes, Dear saw him and gave him a guest spot on the show. Since then Hunter has been in sketches on Late Night with Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Kimmel Live and has performed standup on Showtime and The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn.

In 2008, Hunter became a finalist on NBC’s Last Comic Standing, which he got by pretending to be the bad boy, telling producers in preliminary interviews, “I’m the greatest comic ever. Nobody can beat me.” But once he got on the show, he was just himself, a comic happy to be there, a guy who worked with kids with cancer at the Ronald McDonald House.

Despite angering the producers, he made the final six, but knew he couldn’t win.

“I wasn’t the producers’ favorite by any means,” Hunter laughs. “I mean, literally, they would get everyone in the house food and somehow not get my order, and I was getting less screen time than everybody.”

Today, Hunter is working regularly, appearing twice on Comics Unleashed and on Chelsea Lately, but being a working comic is a grind. He’ll work a cruise ship on Monday, an LA comedy club on Tuesday, a retirement home on Wednesday, then fly to some town like Lincoln, Neb., to work four to six shows in three days.

“It’s hard sometimes because I’ll be traveling alone to someplace like Oklahoma City, and 300 people will come to see me twice a night. Then afterward you sign autographs, and everyone wants to take pictures with you,” he says. “Everyone loves you.

“Then an hour later you’re at the Motel 6 alone, and your girlfriend is complaining that you don’t come home that much, and she never gets to see you. Then you’re on the Internet and on Facebook, and you see all these people with their kids in their profile pics, and you don’t have that. Then you can’t go to bed because you’re still high from that show, and you’re like, ‘what do I do?’ That’s when it gets tough.”

But he wouldn’t change a thing.

“Still, I’m working and making more than some teachers, and I’m doing what I love doing, and the high I get from the stage is better than any high I’ve ever gotten in my life, including wrestling. I’m making people laugh for a living. It doesn’t get better than that!”

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