“While I’m excited to make this album, I’m no longer that starry-eyed kid. I’m past the point in my life where I think that this album will make me famous overnight.”
There are many similarities between punk rock and comedy. Dark basements. Judgment from people. Rough tour schedules. Making no money. Rampant substance abuse.
There’s also the old cliche that I, someone who has worked in both the music industry and comedy, have found to be true: Every musician wants to be a comedian, and every comedian wants to be a rockstar. But of course, very few get to be both.
There are of course many comedians who attempted to live the so-called rockstar life and tragically died: original SNL cast member John Belushi; king of the deadpan one-liners Mitch Hedberg; Chris Farley, who was just as hilarious and manic away from the cameras as he was in-front of them; Greg Giraldo, who left being a high-paid lawyer to tell jokes on stages across the country with his friends.
The only thing that’s taken more comedians away from this world than drug abuse is cancer … well, that and themselves.
Despite those horrors, there are people working to make both careers happen. Boston is lucky enough to have someone on that path: Aaron “Tiny” Smith, an Arkansas punk band frontman turned New England comedian.
After touring the country with his band, the Thickness, and opening for (aka partying with) some of his punk idols, Smith eventually gave up the rock and roll lifestyle for comedy and traded his guitar for a mic stand.
“I played rock and roll for more than 20 years and made records with two different bands,” he said in an interview. “With those bands, there was a feeling with each record that maybe this one will break through or be our big break. And then there was the inevitable comedown when that didn’t end up happening.”
Getting up on stage and telling jokes wasn’t as much of a challenge for Smith as it usually is for most people just starting out. First of all, Tiny didn’t have the stage fright most newbs have. Also, he’s been to open mics before. The only true difference between music and comedy open mics is the people who aren’t paying attention to you don’t subconsciously clap for you when you’re done at a comedy open mic. This Arkansawyer transplant just had to get used to the depressing silence of bitter, judgemental New Englander jealousy. Luckily, his carefree attitude and jovial personality made him a quick favorite amongst comedians and audiences alike.
The title of Smith’s upcoming comedy special, The Spoons, is both a reference to one his most beloved bits and a piece of drug paraphernalia often found near those overdosed comedians. Hey Now Productions will produce this first comedy recording of his at the Midway Cafe in Jamaica Plain on March 3. It’s a place familiar for every band that has spent too much time in cramped, smelly vans passing through Boston. It’s also one of the places Tiny cut his comedy teeth performing at the weekly Sunday late-night open mic, Midway or the Highway.
“I have friends and family coming in from out of town for the recording, some of whom have never seen me do stand-up,” Smith said. “I’m really excited to share the night with the people closest to me.”
In the music world, we would call it a live album, but in comedy, laughter can grow in a vacuum. Comedy is the only artform that has to be presented to an audience to be created. While this is a new experience for Smith, it’s not a totally unfamiliar one.
“This isn’t my first rodeo, I’ve recorded albums before,” he said as we were heading to a recent show together. “While I’m excited to make this album, I’m no longer that starry-eyed kid. I’m past the point in my life where I think that this album will make me famous overnight. I see this for what it is, an opportunity to capture the material I’ve been working on for the past seven years. It’s marking a moment in time.”
Aaron “Tiny” Smith’s album recording @ Midway Cafe. With openers Angela Sawyer, Jack Hall, and host Rob Crean. Tickets on sale now at https://tinyurl.com/yk6kthxz
Deadair Dennis Maler is a comedian, actor, writer, & podcaster who has been heard on radio stations throughout the country including SiriusXM, DC101, The Party Playhousewith Jackson Blue and more. He has been featured on comedy festivals throughout the country, founded BostonComedyShows.com, is the Comedy Editor for DigBoston, and hosts the iTunes podcast So What Do You Really Do? He’s funny, loud, abrasively social, and allergy free since 1981.