HOPE WITH JOKES
BY GAVIN GODFREY
“Dude, bar none, Southern food,” Andy Sanford tells me about what he misses most about Atlanta. “I ate it, but I didn’t realize that I love it so much and it does not fucking exist up here, dude.”
All dudes aside, Sanford currently calls New York City home. Like comedian Dave Stone, Sanford is part of the Beards of Comedy collective, “who got funny in Atlanta.” Calling in between gigs, Sanford waxed poetic about the dark turns and decisions that led him down this current path.
Skateboarding to the stage
I always wanted to, but I would say, “I’m not a performer I can never do that.” I always wrote funny things and stuff like that even though I was like really into skating and I loved skating. I never really thought I was going to be a pro-skateboarder. You either have that thing in you where you just have insane balls and you don’t give a fuck and I gave too much of a fuck. Plus, I was like skateboarding is fun to me, but creatively I can’t expand too much because my fucking piece of shit body sucked. That with being super depressed and finally going I have to try and do this on stage and see if I like it at least. I think after the first time I did a show at Star Bar I thought I could get used to this and have it be a good, creative outlet where I could progress a lot whereas skateboarding was great for me from when I was 13 to when I was like 23 or 24. And then it grew to where it was nostalgic to skateboard, but comedy is my thing now.
My first time
It went as well as it really could go for a first time. It’s a blur and I just memorized my jokes really well, so I could go through it even though I was extremely nervous and acted like I wasn’t nervous. I was really nervous when people told me I didn’t seem that nervous. I was actually stepping on laughs. I would tell a joke, get laughs, but in my head I was like, “Alright stop laughing I’ve got to get through this.” I had no control over anything, but I got laughs and I thought OK I can get good at this and figure out what the hell I’m doing. Whereas the third time I did stand-up was the first time I did bomb, like really hard. And I feel like it’s really freeing the first time you fuck up super hard because it’s like, “OK that wasn’t fun, but that is the worst it could be.” It’s not like people are going to lynch you, they just didn’t enjoy it.
Darkest experience you’ve turned into comedy…
One time and this is before I got into comedy or anything, I was super depressed and went on some bender. I just did a ton of blow and drank so much that I blacked out. This is in Atlanta and I came to or whatever in an Athens Publix parking lot and I had fallen all over the ground and stuff and was like bleeding. So I checked into the hospital, but I was still really out of it. When I came to they were asking me questions and I didn’t realize that I was being psychiatrically evaluated and I was being a smart ass. Because I was being an asshole they put me in this 5-day mandatory watch thing because they deemed me unsafe to myself or something and it was mostly because I was being a dick. They said, “Do you love yourself?” And I was like, “Well I just blacked myself out and drove to Athens and I hate this fucking town. Would you do that to someone you love?!” That was a real bummer and I remember having to explain where I was and it wasn’t easy because the only way I could think to describe was to be as funny as I could about it to friends. Some of my friends would laugh as I was telling them about it and they’re apologizing and I’m like, “Don’t apologize. I’m trying to make it funny because it’s hard to talk about.”
I just got comfortable in Atlanta. You get to where everyone knows you, you can hop on everything, but then I moved to New York which is like this is the stand-up comedy capital of the world pretty much, so it’s like if you’re doing alright here then there is no equal. It was tough to adapt at first because it’s like I feel like I’ve gotten better on my feet just being funny.
Weirdest audience interaction
There was this guy that emailed and wanted us to perform at the 2009 Beard and Mustache Championships in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. He wanted each of us to do a 20-minute set. It was like 1,000 people packed into this venue and they were DRUNK. I followed a ZZ Top cover band and a mustache competition. They introduced and me and forgot to say, “stand up comedian,” so I was just like a guy and the crowd was like, “What the fuck is he doing?!” This guy yells out, “Tell us a joke!” And I was like, “Do you remember when I was telling a joke and then I stopped and then people left that was a joke.” And then he just goes, “Fuck you!” In my head I don’t want to risk not getting paid, so I am going to do 20 minutes even though clearly in the first five minutes they fucking hate me. So I just started talking shit to the audience and grabbing their drinks and stuff and drinking them. The MC of the event comes up like halfway through – this how much they didn’t give a shit – the guy just walked on stage and whispered to me and he goes, “What do you want to do?” I was like, “Well if you’re telling me I can get off I’ll get off, but I didn’t want to bail and he goes hold on let me make an announcement. He goes, “Hey DJ, put on that Wilson Phillips song, me and Andy are going to dance to it.” I just looked at him like I’m not fucking monkey dude and I just walked backstage. I just walked off.
Atlanta’s comedy scene versus everyone else
It’s a great place to get better because there’s plenty of stage time. There’s not a huge industry presence so there’s not like that pressure like, “Oh am I fucking up in front of somebody that’s going to think this about me forever?” You can just get better at comedy without being known as well which is a good thing I think. That way when you do get in front of people that are going to be judging you, you’ve already gotten really good. Atlanta is great for that.