Q&A With Memphis Comedy Fest Headliners: Baron Vaughn and Dominic Dierkes
Ed Note: Wondering what to expect at the 2017 Memphis Comedy Fest headliner shows on Friday and Saturday nights (March 10 and 11)? Contributor Kate Schnack has you covered. Read more about the MFC here.
Q&A with Baron Vaughn
Black Nerd Power Comedy Hour – if the name alone isn’t intriguing enough for you, the man performing should be the the extra kick in your pants needed to check it out. Baron Vaughn is taking the stage for this headliner show at Memphis Comedy Festival this Saturday.
Baron, most recently known for his role as Bud on Netflix’s popular Grace and Frankie, and was also on the USA Network’s Fairly Legal, and been in films like Black Dynamite, Cloverfield and The Other Guys. He has been showering the world with his hot jokes just about everywhere – Conan (twice), Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and Comedy Central’s The Half Hour. He also is the self-proclaimed “Master of Festivals,” most notably performing in the HBO U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, SXSW and countless others including our very own this weekend.
Baron has a new comedy recording, Blaxistential Crisis, so be sure to check that out.
All this adds up to one thing: Baron is awesome, and you need to go see the Black Nerd Power Comedy Hour. He was gracious enough to answer a few of my questions, so read away for more:
Katie: Welcome to Memphis! Have you been here before and what are you most excited to do while in town.
Baron: I’ve been to Memphis a few times. FIrst time I came there was when I performed at Rhodes College many many years ago. After that it was probably when I moved from NYC to LA and drove across the country. Drove down south first and then took I-40 across the country. Stopped into Graceland and found out that I want my own Jungle Room.
Katie: Grace and Frankie is an awesome show. What is it like playing Lily Tomlin’s son?
Baron: Luckily she laughed when I called her Lily Momlin. What can I say besides all the rumors are true? She’s great. So fun to work with. Fun to improvise with. It fills me with joyous insanity when I make her laugh. She’s the best. AROUND. Nothing’s gonna ever keep her doooooown.
Katie: You also co-star with Jane Fonda. How is it working with her, and does she ever make you exercise on set?
Baron: Jane is also great. Her own version of great. It’s like hanging with benevolent royalty. As for the exercise, I feel embarrassed. She’s more fit than I have ever been.
Katie: Tell us about your stand up style – what can people expect.
Baron: Well, to me the point of stand up is to discover that style. It’s an ongoing experiment to push oneself to the next level. My style is hard to explain because it’s my style. It’s just the way I know how to do things – characters, voices, songs, one-liners, stories, puns, absurdity – I use everything to get my point across. I talk about everything under the sun. I also talk about things OVER the sun. And by that I mean space. I think about comedy like it’s jazz – word jazz.
Katie: What projects are you working on right now and where can people find you next?
Baron: Season 3 of Grace and Frankie comes out March 24th. Also, I’m the new voice of Tom Servo on the upcoming revival of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (season 11) which comes out on Netflix April 14th. I made a documentary about reuniting with my biological dad called Fatherless out on the Fusion Network on April 2nd. I have a stand up showcase co-hosted by Open Mike Eagle called The New Negroes which we do monthly here in LA. I’m movin’ and shakin’. Especially the shakin’ part.
Q&A with Dominic Dierkes
When you are laughing at some of your favorite TV shows, you may just be laughing at the creative genius of someone who once roamed these very streets. Dominic Dierkes, one of the headliners at this year’s Memphis Comedy Festival, grew up right here in town and got his start doing stand up as a teenager in Overton Square. He has since moved to Los Angeles pastures where he is killing it as a writer, actor, and of course, stand up comic.
He’s done the whole late night talk show thing – check out his great Conan set here. As an actor, he has appeared on Community, Parks & Recreation, House of Lies, Mad Men, Weeds, and Workaholics. But the goodness doesn’t just end there – the has written for the Peabody award-winning Onion News Network and many TV shows including Ash vs. Evil Dead, Workaholics, The Grinder, The Mick, and Making History. (Side note – If you haven’t checked out The Mick yet – it’s one of my faves.)
I was able to connect with him to just learn a little bit more about the man behind the microphone. Read on, friends:
Katie: Word on the street is you are a native Memphian – give us the details!
Dominic: The word on the street is correct! I was born and raised in Memphis. Lived in Collierville until I was about seven. Then we moved to Bartlett where I lived until I moved to New York for college. I spent most of my grade school years at Holy Rosary and then went to high school at Christian Brothers. I’m definitely a product of the Memphis Catholic School System.
Katie: What do you miss most about Memphis when you are in Los Angeles?
Dominic: Well, I’ve lived in either New York or Los Angeles for the last fifteen years so it makes it harder to keep in touch with friends and family. I have a lot of extended family in Memphis since my parents were both born and raised here so I’d say I miss seeing them most. Them and the giant mirrored pyramid that houses a Bass Pro Shop. Seeing that thing always makes me feel at home.
Katie: When you were living in Memphis, did you do any comedy? Was anyone here an inspiration to you in choosing this career?
Dominic: I did! I started doing stand-up comedy in 1999 when I was fifteen years old. I performed at the Loony Bin Comedy Club that used to be in Overton Square. At first, I was just doing their open mic nights and then eventually I started touring around on the road a little bit.
When I was coming up at the Loony Bin, there was already a pretty established community of local comics. I remember looking up to guys like T.R. Degraw, and Mo Alexander for how hilarious they were doing such dark material. They have a real talent for making an audience laugh at something they consciously know they should be offended by. Having spent so much time on the road, they were both kinda bulletproof.
I’m grateful for that whole group of comics at the Loony Bin during that time. It was a very welcoming community and being around that scene only made me want to get more and more into the comedy world.
Katie: Give us the gist of your comedy style – what can people expect at your show?
Dominic: I guess I’d say my comedy style is “observational,” but mostly I just try to do the funny type of comedy.
Katie: What projects are you working on right now, and where will people see you next?
Dominic: I just finished writing for the first seasons of two TV shows, The Mick and Making History. They’re both on FOX and the Making History episode I wrote is on this Sunday at 7:30 p.m. CT after The Simpsons. It’s a half-hour time travel comedy starring Adam Pally and Leighton Meester. It’s a great show with an awesome cast and I hope people check it out.
Make sure you go see Dominic at the Don’t Be Afraid of the Comedy showcase this Friday, March 10, 8:00 p.m. at The Hi Tone. Tickets are $10, 21+.
More details on Memphis Comedy Festival can be found here, and at www.memphiscomedyfestival.com.