Ben and I have been friends for over 12 years now, but I’ve been his fan longer than that.
When you hear Ben’s jokes, it’s obvious his genius comes from the unique way he perceives the world. What makes him truly special though, is how he uses silence to build an almost unbearable tension in the room. Tension that begs to be released by a punchline only Ben can deliver.
If you don’t know him, Ben is a New York based stand-up comedian who headlines all over the world. You’ve probably seen him tell jokes on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Late Night With Seth Meyers, John Oliver’s NY Stand-Up Show or his very own Half Hour Comedy Special on Comedy Central.
Pitch Lab caught up with Ben to ask him a few questions about his worst experience on stage, how he deals with “butterflies” before a set and why you should join his workshop at The Commons on June 5th.
Who is your all-time favorite comedian?
Troy Baxley. A local Denver comedian who was one of the first stand ups I ever saw live. Even though he was never "famous" he made such an important impact on the comedy scene in Denver and whenever I mention his name on the road, people who have seen or heard of him get really excited.
He had such a presence and flow that I could listen to him tell the same jokes over and over and never get tired of watching him work his magic. I conjure him on stage whenever I feel I have nowhere to go. He gives me strength like a deity in desert.
What’s the worst experience you’ve ever had on stage?
I love the stage cuz it gives me all of the experiences in concentrated form: confidence, fear, curiosity, regret, happiness, anger...its life. Worst experiences are a value of "I hope this never happens again" but I feel that you have to be open to the worst to experience the best.
If you leave the house anything can happen, and no matter what happens you have to make the best of it. That said, one time early on I had maraschino cherries thrown at me by an audience member. It stained my favorite thrift store Jacket, but then that stain became a story and a badge of courage.
What’s the most nervous you’ve ever been in anticipation for a set?
Anytime I go up in Denver I can get nervous. It's where I started and I feel the most potential inescapable judgment there.
I was also pretty nervous before my Comedy Central Half Hour cuz I was getting paid the most money I've ever been paid for a show. I looked at my hair a lot and shadow boxed backstage...JK.
What’s the website you'd most likely get busted looking at while in the green room?
My ex-girlfriend's Instagram via Google cuz I blocked her after she broke up with me.
What would your last meal be?
Lasagna. It makes you tired. I would sleep through the execution.
What is the best piece of comedy advice you've ever been given?
If the joke doesn't work, you're telling it wrong.
The first time you coached at Pitch Lab were you surprised how well stand-up comedy techniques translated to presentations in the workplace?
I wasn't surprised cuz the idea is really great and the applications of stand up are self evident in that way. As soon as you explained the idea I was on board and I am a tough sell when it comes to ideas that aren't mine:) I can't wait to see where Pitch Lab goes. The potential is endless for this type thing.
Why should folks sign up for your Pitch Lab workshop at the Commons on June 5th?
It's a no-brainier. No matter what you do professionally you will gain from taking part in Pitch Lab. No matter what stage of the pitching process you are currently in: beginner to seasoned pitch-er, this workshop will absolutely help move you in the right direction no regardless your end goal.