By ROB DUGUAY With all of the chaos that's happening due to COVID-19, sometimes all you can do is laugh. It's better than feeling depressed and helpless, and some of the funniest things can come from the doomiest and gloomiest of situations. To get your
With all of the chaos that’s happening due to COVID-19, sometimes all you can do is laugh. It’s better than feeling depressed and helpless, and some of the funniest things can come from the doomiest and gloomiest of situations.
To get your hopes up, try checking out Cranston-based comedian Jake Goldman. He started the year off by releasing a live album titled “I’m Fine” on Jan. 24, and he’s currently been livestreaming to keep himself occupied. We can all use a little comedy in our lives, even when things are as bleak as they seem today.
Goldman and I recently had a talk about how he got into stand-up, the making of his live album, comedic influences and how livestreaming and comedy sometimes don’t mix.
Stand-up comedy is one of the hardest things to be good at, so what gave you the confidence in yourself to make you think you could pull it off?
It was a combination of things, I think. I started when I was 18 and I’m 37 now, so I started in college doing open mics at local clubs and on campus. I just really never stopped and I amassed all of this material during all this time and I never put it down. The older I got the more I realized that I probably wouldn’t be able to do comedy full-time for a living, but I at least want to document what I did with it. I also wanted to stop doing the same jokes, even though I know they’re good, but some of the jokes I put out on my live album are 10 to 15 years old.
The idea of just throwing them away and not documenting them in some way kind of made me sad, I guess (laughs). I didn’t want to dump all of this stuff so that kind of drove me to do it.
Speaking of that live album, “I’m Fine” was recorded during a performance you had at the Wage House in Pawtucket. Knowing in your mind that this was the way it was going to go down where you’re being recorded by somebody while you’re on stage, did you prepare yourself differently in any way than you usually do?
It was definitely somewhat different from the way I normally do it. I guess preparing wasn’t a whole lot different, I went around New England doing different sets before the show to make sure jokes I hadn’t told in a while still worked. During the show, I had a recording engineer behind me and I had him there on purpose because I didn’t want to be distracted. The best comedy albums, the ones I love, are the ones that seem to have been acted as normal. I just tried to put the engineer out of sight and out of mind while trying to be present in the joke-telling and treating it like a special.
I hopefully will record some more stuff and do some more specials while not doing a full hour on my own again. I think the latter is what got me energized for this album.
Which comedians do you consider to be your major influences?
The first comedians who made me want to do it were definitely Monty Python, just from watching those sketches on PBS as a kid. Then as I got older, I was super into Mitch Hedberg, Todd Barry and tight joke writers like them. Steven Wright is definitely there, too – just people who are kind of silly but they can write a good, tight joke.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic shut a lot of things down in March, musicians have been resorting to livestreaming to perform online while accepting donations. Comedians have been doing something in a similar route lately, so what do you think of it? Comedy depends more on the audience interaction than a musician would.
I’ve actually done a bunch of livestreams. I’ve been running my own little show in my garage since the last weekend of March in a talk show format. A lot of other people are hosting shows along with some theatres and I have very mixed feelings on it. Certain mediums just don’t work. I haven’t attempted an actual stand-up set on a livestream because it feels so bizarre to get in front of a camera to interact with a digital crowd and get nothing back.
A couple of times I’ve seen people do stand-up and it doesn’t work. I’ve also tried out stuff with some improv groups around town with skits and stuff. For some reason, we got booked for several weeks on Attleboro Public Access TV. They wanted to have an improv show during the pandemic, it works to varying degrees and it’s another form of entertainment where you really rely on the audience while letting their laughs dictate where you go. I’ve been having people come on a talk show as characters and it was fun, I think people were enjoying it but it’s really hard to stay fresh.
You’re limited by the tiny box on your computer or your cell phone. I did switch up the format over the past few weeks, if you’re going to do it then you really do need a solid frame for it. Unless you’re a huge celebrity comedian where thousands of people can tune in to your livestream, it most often doesn’t work if you don’t have something clear. It’s interesting to see how it’s even evolved from the beginning of this crisis to now. I was just talking to people on Instagram at the beginning and now I’ve got a background with a logo in the corner while showing weird videos from the internet and other things.
For your livestreams, people can just follow you on Instagram or are there other outlets?
JG: Yeah and I’m also on Twitch and YouTube now. I’m on twitch.tv/JargsBarfman and my channel on YouTube is my name, at Jake Goldman. Unfortunately they don’t let you have your own YouTube link until you have a certain number of views and I’m nowhere near it, but you can just search for it and you’ll find it eventually.