Bret Ernst Talks Hecklers & Debut Album
Stand-up preps for release of American Comic
Comedian Bret Ernst began his career in stand-up comedy while still living on the east coast, spending much of his adolescence between Florida and New Jersey. After graduating from the University of Long Island, Ernst made his way out to Los Angeles where he quickly became a regular at comedy clubs like The Improv, Laugh Factory, and World Famous Comedy Store. Several years later Ernst was handpicked by actor Vince Vaughn to be one of the featured comedians in his documentary, Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show. The film helped elevate Ernst’s career and he’s since gone on to make numerous appearances on shows like Weeds, Chelsea Lately and his own half hour special on Comedy Central. Ernst is currently preparing for the release of his first album American Comic, which is scheduled to be released at the end of January.
SanDiego.com had a chance to catch up with Ernst from his home in Los Angeles and talked about his first time onstage and some of the memorable hecklers from his time on the road. Do you remember the first time you did stand-up?Bret Ernst: It was at The Comedy Zone in South Beach. It was the week before my twenty-fifth birthday. It actually went really well, I didn’t really eat a turd until six months in. When I bombed, I bombed bad; it was bad. Having played football in college, was it ever your dream to play in the NFL?As a little kid I always wanted to be three things: first and foremost I wanted to play for the Dallas Cowboys as a kid, and doing what I’m doing now actually. And the other thing was a super hero. That could still happen if I’m lucky and hanging around some radioactive shit. What did degree did you earn from Long Island University?My undergrad was in communications. Were you doing a lot of stand-up at night while going to college?I took drama in college as an elective, and I always knew this was something I wanted to do. It wasn’t until I went back down to Florida after I graduated. It was then that I decided to start stand-up. What was your catalyst for moving to Los Angeles?I just decided this is all I wanted to be. I went up to New York for a minute and I was selling shit out the back of my car trying to make ends meet, sleeping on a buddy’s floor. My ex-girlfriend at the time was in Los Angeles. We didn’t know where we were going yet, but it just seemed like the right choice.
So you moved to LA in 1999?Yeah, February 1999.
And you became a regular at The Comedy Store a year later?It took me about a year but I had been doing comedy already almost four years. Were you passed by Mitzi?I was passed by Mitzi. I’m Mitzi’s crew. What happed was I was recommended by a couple of comics and I went to audition and I came in for three and Mitzi says, “Call back for six.” I called back for six and she’s like, “Call back for 10.” But when I called back for 10 she didn’t put me on the list. So I was just like, fuck it; I’ll wait awhile before I re-audition. But then there was a big show in The Main Room and I was on the lineup with Maz Jobrani. Mitzi was in the room and she wanted to see Maz and then she was going to leave. So Maz says, “Hey Bret, go up before me so she can see you.” So I went up and I had a really great set and she said, “Call Duncan tomorrow,” and then I was passed. Do you consider The Comedy Store in Hollywood your home club?Yeah. I have an affinity to all the clubs like The Laugh Factory and The Improv I love too, but The Comedy Store, when I came out here, that’s where I wanted to be.