The Freddy Lockhart Interview
Debut album coming soon on Rooftop Records
Since an early age, comedian Freddy Lockhart always knew he wanted to pursue a career in comedy. At the age of 20, he packed up his belongings and moved from Arizona to Hollywood, California where he quickly found employment at The World Famous Comedy Store on Sunset Boulevard. It was at The Comedy Store where Lockhart quickly learned the craft of being a professional comedian, and would quickly become a paid regular at the young age of 23. Since then Lockhart has appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Comedy Central’s Live at Gotham, and was a cast member of the short-lived TBS sketch show, Frank TV. His unique outlook on the world comes through in his act, as he crisscrosses between stories of growing up in the Arizona heat, to a variety of impersonations ranging from Morgan Freeman to Ice-T.
SanDiego.com spoke with Lockhart from his home in Los Angeles and discussed his early years at The Comedy Store and an upcoming video he’s filming for FOX NFL Sunday.
Did you start doing stand-up in Arizona or did that not happen until you moved to Los Angeles?
Freddy Lockhart: I got to L.A. when I just turned 20, and I tried to start comedy in Arizona, but there really wasn’t much of a scene in 1998, other than the Tempe Improv. The Tempe Improv has always been a big established club; like you couldn’t just go there. Maybe they had a once a month open mic or something like that. I didn’t really have the balls to try it there, but I did try to go get a job there when I was 18 and they never hired me. So I ended up from there just moving out to L.A. when I was 20 and getting a job at The Comedy Store. I had never been in a comedy club, so I figured if I could work at one first then I could kind of do some recon and see what it’s like.
What do you remember about your first time doing stand-up?
FL: It was at The Comedy Store, it was a Sunday, August 25 2000. I remember every last detail about that day. Bobby Lee was the host, and it was Sunday potluck night. I had worked at The Comedy Store, I guess at that time for about three months, and the rule was you had to go onstage, you had to perform and you had to do it in front of Mitzi. I had never performed comedy in my life, I was 20 years old and I was working at a comedy club but I still hadn’t performed; I was terrified to. So it came that August 25, that it was time to do it. I had stayed up for weeks practicing this and rehearsing it and you got three minutes back then. It’s still sunny outside and you’ve got to go up there and do three minutes. I remember staying up about it and fretting about it and it went really well, the first one; really fucking well. I couldn’t believe it. It was a very big relief like, ‘Great! This thing I wanted to do since I was nine, it looks like there’s a chance I can do it.’ I died the next hundred times after that, because I realized your first time you have nothing to compare it to, so it’s pretty fucking honest and sincere. All the times after that, I’m just trying to portray myself as a comedian and I wasn’t a real one yet.
Do you remember any of the jokes you told that first time up?
Fl: I don’t just remember them; I have the book and the time stamp dated upstairs in my house. I remember the entire act. I remember every word of it. It was about how I was scared of Michael Jackson’s Thriller as a little kid, and I pooped my pants when I was 14, and I had a bunch of jokes about how Mexicans love to go to Auto Zone and deck their car out. Then I closed with a joke about cell phones in 2000. I would say, ‘It seems like everyone has a cell phone now…’ some kind of real sad and very dated observation about cell phones. I remember that it was like this girl that you pined over for a long time since you were a kid. And I met her and I had a first date with her, and it went good. It didn’t go great, but it went really good.
Did you get hired at The Comedy Store right away or was there a process you had to go through?
FL: I showed up like in the movie Unforgiven, like everybody had been shot. Basically everybody had been fired by Mitzi, there was literally nobody standing and I just happened to show up. It was very fortuitous that I showed up when I did. Because I showed up on June 16, 2000 and I was 20 years old, and I was like, ‘Hey I’m looking for a job.’ I knew what it was; it’s The World Famous Comedy Store, I had known about it since I was a little kid. They were like, ‘Shit, we’re looking for people.’ And I was like, ‘Oh my God! This is God’s will! This is amazing!’ It was a great place to work, but I realized it was a school, and it was basically like showing up at the front door of the Marines and saying, ‘Hey will you take me?’ And they’re like, ‘Yeah we’ll take you!’ and you’re like, ‘Holy shit!’ but then you don’t realize what sort of world of shit you’re in for.
I’ve heard you use that analogy before, that Comedy Store comics are like the Marines of comedy.
FL: It just shows you the ugliest and nastiest conditions, and I don’t just mean onstage – I mean in life! One thing I really had the luxury of as a young kid is I knew there was a goal in mind and I knew all the obstacles that stood in the way were related to that goal. Cars getting towed, getting tickets, getting evictions; all that shit goes into part of making you who you are as a man or a woman. This builds character these things, and a lot of people turn tail and run and go back their respective towns and never really find out what they’ve could’ve done in show business. And what they don’t realize is that there’s an obstacle course out here to weed out the weak. That Marine reference; that’s what The Comedy Store prepared me for, it was to know that hey, I’m going to get close to some TV shows and not get them, and I’m going to get close to some movies and not get them, but hey, those are the fucking breaks. That’s just how it goes; the world’s not working against me. I came out here at 20 years old in my Jeep Cherokee and now I’m sitting by my pool in the house Bud Abbott lived and died in. I’d say it worked out okay.
When did you get passed at The Comedy Store?
FL: I was passed in 2003 when I was 23. What happened was, I was fired from The Comedy Store. A new manager came through who was trying to corporatize the place. I’m a big dope smoker, was then, am now, and I was out back smoking with P.J. on my day off, just like in the movie Friday. So there’s plumes of smoke, it’s about six in the evening and she comes walking out, so the next day I get a call from Dean and he’s like, ‘Bro, you can call in to work any shifts bro, I’m sorry. You got caught smoking weed.’ Got caught smoking weed? What the fuck is this place? What the fuck’s wrong with that? So I said, ‘Fuck you!’ and walked away from The Comedy Store. What it forced me to do was to get out of the Store for six months, and go to The Improv and open mics and other places. By doing that I found out that I had learned so much at The Comedy Store and just hadn’t taken it anywhere to show it off, and that The Comedy Store wasn’t the only place in the world. So by the time that I came back six months later to showcase I ended up getting passed in late 2003. Mitzi had seen the growth and she didn’t even know I was fired. She was pissed to find out. The whole thing worked out for me.