photo by. Raun Harris
A few months back I interviewed Julian Vance for a piece featured on Antithesis Comedy. Much of the interview was trimmed out for brevity. Here is the majority of the “missing” interview. [P.S. For the full experience, imagine frequent laughter between the two of us amid the questions and answers]
Courting Comedy: What rooms were running when you started?
Julian Vance: The Java Source was great. The Java Source was every Friday and Saturday night in the Richmond, kinda across the street from Rockit Room. You had to walk through about forty old Chinese men smoking cigarettes and gambling out front. It was all the way in the back and people fucking hated that we were there. People would come in and turn right back around. The normal customers, every time comedy would start, they would get up and walk away.
CC: Was it always consistent?
JV: It was consistently bad. It was always a shitty experience but you got onstage twice a week… Another great [room] was the Luggage Store. It’s on Market, [its] still called the Luggage Store. This was a mic for comics only, there was no audience. And you would have to pay a dollar to perform, not even pay a dollar, donate a dollar to keep the space open. It was more like a writing workshop than anything else. You would be done with your set and people would tell you what you did right [and] what you did wrong. It was the first place I ever bombed. It was my third or fourth set.
CC: Did you ever do the “scouting” thing of checking a mic out first?
JV: Naw, I just went. The first mic I went to was the Brainwash. This was back when they were doing the lottery system so you picked your name out of a hat. I pulled number “2” and nobody pulled number “1”. I had never seen live stand-up comedy performed before, never been to a comedy club and I went up first.
CC: How did people respond?
JV: My first set went over really well. I still remember the first joke I ever told, which looking back on it is cringe worthy. The first joke I ever told was: “So I’m a fat kid who wants to be a stand-up comic which is code for ‘I’m a virgin’.” [I did] five minutes. I got off stage, I walked right out of the Brain Wash, didn’t talk to anybody. I called my mom. [At this time] Whoopi Goldberg and Robin Williams had some handprints in some cement around the corner from the Brainwash. I walked past that and thought “I fucking made it man! I’m here!”