Steve Simeone: The Piledriver of Comedy
High energy comic spends Labor Day in La Jolla
Comedian Steve Simeone has come along way since growing up as a youngster in the suburbs of Philadelphia. After graduating from Loyola College in Baltimore in 1995, he returned to Philly where he snagged a job working for the Philadelphia Eagles for several years before embracing his talent for live comedy. After winning Philly’s Funniest Person contest, Simeone packed his bags and moved to Los Angeles to pursue his dreams and soon found himself working at The Hollywood Comedy Store, where he eventually became one of the club’s regular paid performers. His high energy stage presence and ability to relate classic childhood memories has proven to be universally funny to a wide range of audiences. Simeone has toured the county performing at numerous clubs and colleges along the way, and has also gone overseas to entertain U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.
As he prepares for his headlining shows at The La Jolla Comedy Store, SanDiego.com had a chance to catch up with Simeone from his home in Los Angeles, and discovered some of his earliest memories of stand-up comedy and how he came to work with legendary wrestler, Rowdy Roddy Piper.
Did you watch a lot of stand-up comedy as a child?
Steve Simeone: One of my earliest memories of stand-up was I remember being 3 years old, and my parents dropping me and my brothers off at my grandmother’s house so they could go see Richard Pryor, and I remember being jealous. I don’t if I had seen him or why I knew he was funny; I don’t know that. I just remember they went to go see Richard Pryor and I was jealous I couldn’t go.
Do you remember the first time you did stand-up?
SS: I graduated from Loyola College in Baltimore and did an open-mic; crushed it, I did 20 minutes.
You did 20 minutes at an open-mic?
SS: On my first time ever on stage.
What year did you graduate college?
SS: I graduated college all the way back on 95’ did an open-mic in the summer of 95’. That was in Baltimore at a little comedy club called Winchester’s or something like that. But comedy was dead then and I didn’t know how to do it, so I got a normal job and didn’t get onstage for a couple of years. I hated that job and I was going to go to law school but I didn’t want to be a lawyer. I wanted to postpone reality for a couple more years and I wound up answering an ad in the paper and quit my shitty corporate job and worked for the Philadelphia Eagles; and then they created a job for me and that was awesome. I worked for the Eagles from 97’ to 2000 and I wasn’t doing any comedy during those years. Then in 2000 I went to New York to do open-mics. I did one open-mic at The Boston Comedy Club and then I did another show at The Comedy Cellar. So between 1995 and 2000 I was probably on stage maybe ten times or less. I knew that if I wasn’t happy with my dream job; working the Eagles was a dream job because they’re my favorite team, and I still really wasn’t happy. So I quit my job after I came to L.A. for a vacation in 2000. I had so much fun; I got to hang out with Hugh Hefner and all these comedians. It was a fun week.
What was your motivation for moving to L.A.?
SS: I entered a comedy contest and I won the funniest comic in Philly. Pauly Shore hosted that contest. He said, ‘You should come out to The Comedy Store’, and 3 months later I did. My first job was being his production assistant on his movie, Pauly Shore is Dead. Then he got me a job answering phones at The Comedy Store and then from answering phones I became a manager. Then I worked every job at The Store other than waitress. It took 8 years for Mitzi to finally pass me.
When you first started out were you always doing narrative stories or did you have a lot of one-liners and stuff like that?
SS: I was always telling stories to my friends off stage, but when I was starting out I was probably more concerned with getting laughs than being funny. When I started out it was high energy and there were some story-telling elements to it. I would do very well with this high energy physical act. It was never necessarily one-liners although I did go through that phase. Then back in 2006 I scrapped that act and started from ground zero and just started to tell stories that really happened to me. It took a while for me to figure out how to do that. How to introduce characters and people the audience didn’t know and to get them to laugh at stuff my family did or that my friends and I have done instead of just traditional stand-up.
As you became better at stand-up did you begin to ruminate about your childhood fascination with professional wrestling and realize that it could be an especially humorous subject to talk about?
SS: A lot of people associate that stuff with me, but for me it’s just childhood. That’s just one element of my childhood as a little kid that brought me joy.