In the career of a stand-up comic, there are few steps more important on the path to success than putting in actual road work. A lot of it. Though touring independently and living out of your car can be daunting, Boston comic Jordan Handren-Seavey now travels in relative style, rolling a converted yellow short bus with his new wife for a full year as he performs all across America. I sat down with Jordan, who is at the Comedy Studio this Friday and Saturday, to ask about his upcoming adventure.
What was your motivation to buy and refurbish a bus?
My wife and I had been looking into what we were going to do next, and we’d been into “tiny homes.” We were thinking of building one, and then through Instagram we discovered people living in busses, so we figured if you’re going to live in a tiny home, why not live in one on wheels and use it to see different places, performing my stand-up along the way?
What are you hoping to accomplish in spending a year on the road?
I have a goal as far as being a successful touring comedian. Technology has changed. There are more options to go about getting your name out there and getting people to come out and see you perform. So, I have the idea to just go everywhere, meet everyone in the country and do shows everywhere I possibly can. I’m at a point in my career where I’m willing to bet on myself. My story, travelling cross-country in a bus, might seem weird and interesting enough for people to want to come see my performance in their town.
You have a really cool first-person style of stand-up, where you question things a lot with really good “act-outs.” Can you explain your approach?
Whenever I write a joke, I try to think, Who am I making fun of? Who’s on the other side of this and what would be their rebuttal? I’m constantly questioning if something is funny enough, or can I make it funnier. I try to look at the situation I am making fun of from all angles to make sure nobody else can say something funnier than what I said.
Do you feel any sort of connection with the crowd, beyond the laughter, when they’re just looking at you, smiling, waiting for the punchline?
I equate it very much to when you’re surfing a wave when they’re all laughing. I sort of go, Oooohh can I keep this going? And, How long can I stay up on it? I see how I could immediately fall off this wave. It’s not a personal connection, it’s more that I’ve created this thing. I’ve taken a group of individual strangers and turned them into this one solid thing. To me that’s the coolest part about doing stand-up.
Are you excited about the actual trip, the touring?
Oh yeah, I’m very excited. There’s a lot of places I’ve never gone to before, and things I’ve never done before like camping on beaches and in national parks. A lot of people have a Monday-through-Friday mentality about life, and even my wife is going to be working from the road with her laptop. One day here the office could be a beach, and on another day it could be the Grand Canyon.
So, you’re combining a sense of wanderlust with today’s technology?
It’s what the millennials call being a digital nomad. You don’t have to live anywhere in particular. If I can go from paying rent in the city [and] working a regular job to living in a bus doing stand-up, I get those 40 hours a week back where I can focus more on my art.
JORDAN HANDREN-SEAVEY. THE COMEDY STUDIO, CAMBRIDGE. FRI 7.28 & SAT 7.29. 8PM/$15/21+. THECOMEDYSTUDIO.COM