Comedian, David Harris, talks to us about how to find the funny in real life, the true terror of doing stand-up, and why Jews are so damn funny.
You’re both a comedian and a magician. Do those two go hand-in-hand?
I started as a magician when I was just a kid performing at kids’ parties and bar mitzvahs. I did small shows and table tricks and then eventually I started building my larger show for a bigger audience. I always had jokes in my act.
Eight to nine years ago, I started writing standup and going to open mics. I took workshops and started writing for real. The two came together. I would do clubs with a few tricks in my act. Now, depending on venue—corporate, college, or club—there’s a bit of both. There’s more on my website.
Is it completely frightening doing stand up?
It’s the scariest thing I’ve ever done besides riding a roller coaster. (Disclosure: I actually haven’t really ridden a roller coaster. That’s how many balls I have). I tried stand-up at 25 and it was rough. Then, I tried five years later and I was more confident at that point. The longer you do it, the easier it gets. It’s a challenge still, though. You feel that you never master it.
Where do you get your material from?
I get most of my act from my life. I’m trying to reveal more about myself because that’s a where the funniest stuff is most of the time for me. People can hopefully relate to it. Here are my failures and foibles and issues, too. Right now, my dad is having memory issues. I’m working on a bit about that. I just have to be removed enough emotionally so I can deliver it.
Garrison Keillor once said that comedy is a humane art. For me, the goal is not to be mean. The goal is to be funny. If you’re honest and authentic, then you have it right.
Why do you think there are so many Jews in comedy?
Probably the pain of the ancestry and being persecuted year after year. You have to have a sense of humor.
We’re also taught to voice our opinions and there’s a strong tradition of storytelling. Jews are typically outgoing, with everybody talking at the same time, “Listen to me! Watch me! Look at me!” You have to be funny or you’ll get steamrolled.
What’s next for you?
Hollywood! No, really, I’m excited about this new show I’ve put together at the Bryant Lake bowl called “Modern Vaudeville”. I produce and host the show that features the Twin Cities’ top talent–one comedy act, one variety act and one band. The last show sold out which is awesome. The next show is Saturday, November 7th. It features comedian, Tommy Ryman, a talented 19-year-old comic-magician Nick Diffatte, and up-and-coming band BBGUN.
I love live entertainment. I love theatre. I think it’s a way to combine everything I want to do. I’m also excited to continue performing my solo act and building new material.
What’s your favorite Jewish holiday?
Any holiday that has food, I would say.
What’s your favorite Jewish food?
I like brisket, bagels, latkes—anything that’s not a vegetable, technically.
Does your Jewish identity play into your comedy?
Thought I wasn’t as aware of it growing up, being Jewish is a huge part of who I am. I have a strong connection with some Jewish friends I grew up with – and my family. That’s important to me. It means a lot.
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