Comedian Ron Babcock w/ Daniel Frana
The Mill — Oct. 7 at 10:30 p.m.
Ron Babcock brings well-crafted humor to the Mill tonight by means of a well-crafted automobile. For his Benz It Like Babcock Stand-up Tour, the L.A. comedian, who’s appeared on Last Comic Standing and Adam Devine’s House Party, is touring the country in a classic Mercedes Benz car to promote a company that specializes in restoring the vehicles.
Little Village caught up with Babcock after his show yesterday at the Yacht Club and spoke to him about his current tour and its unique sponsorship, how a zine got him started in stand-up, and why strangling to death that nervous, child-like part of yourself is the best path the to comedy success.
Little Village: What is the Benz It Like Babock Stand-up Tour all about?
Ron Babcock: I got sponsored by this company called Mercedes Motoring that restores Mercedes Benz cars. They owner said, “Hey, you’re going on a stand-up tour. Why don’t you take one of our cars?” And I was like, “Yeah!”
I’m driving from LA to New York and back. It’s a three-month tour. I’m stopping in big cities and small cities along the way. And I’m doing the whole thing in this 1975 Mercedes Benz 300D, named “Harvey.”
For the tour, I’ve been posting photos of my trip to my Instagram, and Tumblr, and all the social media stuff. It’s a fun hook. And people have been really responding to it.
I am going to turn this into a road documentary where I tape all my sets and put out a mixtape on youtube. I am going to put out a 45-minute or an hour-long mixtape where each of my bits is in a different city.
If there is an Iowa City segment, will there be some footage of Jason [the heckler-in-residency at the Yacht Club’s Catacombs of Comedy]?
I feel like Jason will insert himself in there. There is always a Jason in these shows. But he was very … even for supportive hecklers … I was like, “Oh, wow.”
You started out in comedy by writing a zine. Is that correct?
My friend Ryan McKee, who is a comic in New York now, he and I started a comedy magazine called Modest Proposal and we also started performing together as a duo. We did that for a few years — did this magazine, performed as a duo, did these videos. We don’t perform as a duo anymore, but we’re still best friends. And we’re both still doing comedy.
At the time we wrote about comics like David Cross, Bob Odenkirk, Dave Attell, Neil Hamburger — a lot comics, who for lack of a better word, you would call “alt comics.” We were punk rock kids so I liked a lot of those comics with that punk rock sensibility in their stuff.
For your stop in Iowa City, you’re booked at The Mill and The Yacht Club, two bars. Are you doing that a lot on this tour, touring outside the standard comedy club circuit?
Yeah, I am doing a lot of indie-rooms and one-nighters. I have been doing a lot of house party shows, which are kind of my favorite shows to do because it’s got this feel of going over to a friend’s house to watch a show, and then you’re just going to party afterwards. There is a lot of good energy.
I have a show in Washington D.C. where I am going to be playing at brunch. Yeah, comedy at 2:00 p.m. in the afternoon, but still, I have like 30 people coming. So far, so good. People have really been coming out to see shows.
Also, I always think your goal as a performer should be to do as many different things outside your comfort zone as possible. That way nothing is a curve ball anymore. You’re literally ready for anything.
Any shows that have really taken you outside your comfort zone?
I remember this one time I performed at Arizona State University. And I was like, “Oh, I am performing at a college.” No, I am performing at noon, outside the cafeteria where people are literally just walking by you. I was trying to get one-liners in at bicyclists as they were going by. It was like I was stationary and the audience was mobile. It was just the worst possible situation for comedy.
But I like doing those things because it allows me to kill the part of me that cares. And for you to be successful in comedy, you have to kill the part of you that cares. Whenever anybody asks me for advice [on being a comedian], that’s what I tell them.
And they always look at me kind of weird, but it’s true.You have to wrap your hands around the neck of that little child in you that cares, and you have to look it in the eyes and murder it.
Because as soon as you stop giving a shit about what people think of you, that’s when you are going to start to do some good work.