The sixth annual Hoboken Comedy Festival was nothing short of fantastic, with a lineup that included headliner Artie Lange, with Andrew Schulz and Charlemagne Tha God. Festival creator and organizer Dan Frigolette said that there was stiff competition this year among the 150+ up and coming comedians, all vying for the chance to open for Artie Lange. “The level of talent was so great that I could not win this festival—and I’ve been on TV,” said Frigolette.
This year’s winner was James Myers, who notes about the spelling of his name that “there are more of us than the Meyers.” James performed on the first night of the competition, then won the semi-final round and secured the opening spot for Artie Lange.
James considers himself new to comedy. He’s only worked clubs for the past three years. His introduction to comedy was while he was working as a bartender at the club Funny Bone in Ohio. Recently, I caught up with James who admits that he thought about being a comedian for years before he had the balls to do it. James recalls meeting comedian Dave Chappelle at the comedy club and Dave commented on James’ mustache. “I said something that made him laugh—I wish I could remember what it was,” said James. “He told me I should do standup.”
James act is based primarily in situational comedy and his delivery is calm and assured. You won’t find James practicing in front of the mirror or contorting his face into expressions. In person, he looks more Brooklyn hipster with his facial hair, jeans, and hoodie, which he quips is the typical uniform for comedians. Yet, you won’t always find James performing in jeans, sometimes he performs in a suit as he likes the juxtaposition it brings. “Sometimes I take my jacket off and roll up the sleeves like a magician,” he says. James also likes how he feels in a suit. He tells about the perks of wearing a suit as well: “If you walk into a hotel in a suit and have confidence, you can help yourself to the Continental breakfast,” he said. But his real reason for wearing a suit is his unusual day job.
James is not working in a restaurant like many struggling artists do, he works 9 to 5 as a diamond salesman for a well-known jeweler. While sales might seem like an odd occupation for an aspiring comedian, perhaps it’s not. At any comedy show an unknown comedian has to sell his personality to a crowd in a few minutes. James says the more well-known comedians don’t have to warm up the crowd. They can go out in front of an audience that already accepts and welcomes them.
After working 40 hours a week, James spends his time honing his craft at clubs around the city, and practices writing jokes on reddit.com. His profile name is FricasseeingRabbit – a nod to Bugs Bunny fans. His posts get lots of traffic and comments – good and bad. James says writing jokes on the platform allows him to see if there might be holes in a joke and he gets to see what people think about it. His fans on reddit are very particular about zombies. “Zombies don’t have noses. How can they sniff out humans?” James said. Submitting a joke allows him to get a reaction and see if a joke has legs.
Since winning the Hoboken Comedy Festival, James has been getting bigger time slots. He recently performed a 25 minute set in Ohio. Festival organizer Frigolette also offered James a few upcoming gigs, which he hopes will lead to bigger and better things. “I would love to be a full-time comedian,” said James. “Or writing for TV given the chance. Either one would be really great.”
In the meantime, he continues to write, perform and sell diamonds during the day. He tries to keep both identities separate: “I’ve had coworkers tell clients, ‘He’s a comedian!’ People will say, ‘You don’t seem funny.’ Okay. What do you expect a comedian to be like?” he said.
James says there is too much pressure to tell people you are a comedian and they expect you to crack jokes all the time. “Unless I’m trying to sleep with a girl. Then I tell them I’m a comedian. They like it less than a rock star, but more than an accountant,” he said.
For more information on James, visit: https://www.reddit.com/user/FricasseeingRabbit/