As part of We Own The Laughs.com’s Comedian of the Day, have a few laughs and get to know comedian Tyler Wolf. The Philadelphia, PA native shares some of his favorite moments in stand-up comedy and lets us know how he always owns the laughs.
Name: Tyler Wolf
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Years in Comedy: 5
Comedic Influences: Mike Birbiglia, Gary Gulman, Chris Rock, and so many more
Favorite Comedy Album: Mike Birbiglia “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend”
Favorite Comedy Special: Dave Chappelle “Killin’ Them Softly”
Favorite Comedy Movie: Superbad
Favorite Comedy TV Show: Park and Recreation (Seasons 2-4)
Favorite Comedic Character: Jonah Hill’s Seth in Superbad
Favorite City to Perform In: Philadelphia, Chicago, Austin, and San Francisco
Favorite Topics to Joke About: Things from my own life or ridiculous observations I’ve had.
Favorite Type of Audience for a Comedy Show: The kind that gives hearty bell laughs and is willing to let you take your act anywhere.
Favorite Comedy Club: Next In Line Comedy in Philadelphia
How did you discover your passion for comedy:
My parents both love comedy so it was always infused in our upbringing and we watched it all the time. They each have their own tastes and sensibilities so I was exposed to a wide variety of comedic styles. The first special I have a vivid memory of watching was Ellen Degeneres’ The Beginning. I was 8 years old and didn’t really understand the jokes but the delivery and tone was funny, and my mom was laughing so my siblings and I loved it. Then I just always wanted to be someone who was making others laugh. That club seemed like the coolest to be a part of.
What do you remember most about your first time performing stand-up comedy:
I remember how I couldn’t really remember anything I wanted to say, so I kept doing this awkward lean while holding the mic stand, to look at the paper I brought. And that got bigger laughs than any of my jokes.
How would you describe your comedic style:
I think I’m still trying to figure that out myself! Sometimes I lean observational, sometimes more personal and self-deprecating, but then I can also get goofy and silly. It’s not set in stone and I don’t think I’ve been doing it long enough to have a distinct style. But that’s me trying to analyze myself, comics around me might say I have a very distinctive type of comedy but it’s difficult to tease that out on my own. I’m still just trying to take anything I think is funny or absurd and translate it to the stage.
Describe your process for comedic writing:
I have a lot of different processes and am still trying to lock in what works best for me. I try to free write once a day (just stream of consciousness for an allotted amount of time). Then I sometimes journal at night. But most frequently I use the notes app on my phone when stuff suddenly pops in my head going about my dad, whether for a random thought or observation, or to add tags to old jokes. I also have a call with my friend, and hilarious comic Bo Johnson, a couple times a month where we will workshop jokes together. And then of course sometimes new tags will just come out on stage. It’s a scattered process and some tactics work well for some jokes but not others.
Describe the comedy scene in your area:
Philly has 2 big clubs, a ton of open mics, and a few options for independent shows. I personally think there could be more shows. Philly has a large population and an appetite for comedy so the weekends could certainly have more shows. It’s a pretty supportive community though. Most everyone gets along, supports one another, and has a good amount of high level professional comedians.
How do you judge success in the world of comedy:
I think it’s a combination of a number of factors. Personally, I think success can either be defined internally or externally. On the external side, there is money, fans, and bookings. Internally it’s about feeling good about your jokes, your growth, and your abilities. I want to become a touring comedian with a fanbase but I also know as long as I am enjoying the journey and process of creating comedy, that even if I never reach that point of national headliner I’ll keep doing it!
Who are some of your comedic peers that you enjoy watching perform or inspire you personally and professionally:
This list is not at all comprehensive but in Philly, I love watching and learning from a whole host of incredible comedians including; Chip Chantry, Mary Radzinski, Blake Wexler, TaTa Sherise, Betty Smithsonian, Manny Brown, and so many others!
What’s been your most memorable moment in comedy:
I think I’ve had too many to count. Opening for my brother, Jamie Wolf, on multiple occasions has been really special. My first hosting weekend at a club was for Asif Ali and Ramsey Badawi at Punch Line Philly and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to work with. I think the memorable moments are only going to continue and it’s an exciting moment in my career.
What have you learned most from your failures in comedy:
Literally, no one cares about how you did as much as you do. It’s not the end of the world if you fail and no one except you will remember those moments. Failure leads to growth so if you aren’t trying new and exciting jokes you aren’t going to improve.
How do people react toward you when they realize that you can make people laugh:
On the street and in life when people find out they do the classic “tell me a joke” which is the most annoying thing to say to a comic when they are off stage. Oftentimes people are surprised… but not totally shocked. This is because off stage I’m very quiet and an introvert but whenever I do speak it is always with the goal of making people laugh.
Describe building a career in stand-up comedy:
It is a grind. I knew from day 1 that it was a marathon, not a sprint. That’s what every successful comic before me has said in interviews, books, podcasts and I took that to heart early on. I think you should take some days off to live your life and for your mental health, but to be truly great it requires an insane amount of work. I think the more you put in the more you get out though so I try to write, perform, watch, read, and listen to comedy as much as possible.
If you could change one thing in the world of comedy, what would it be:
Probably the pay structure. Unless you are a recognizable headliner it’s a really really tough industry to make a good living as a performer. I wish more people could make a solid middle class income as a stand-up.
Best advice you’ve ever received from a comedian:
There are so many useful tidbits I’ve heard from different comics over the years. Get on stage as much as possible. Write every day. Don’t be a dick. But I always come back to advice about being in the moment, having fun, and appearing confident (even if you are faking). All of my best sets have come when those three things are happening simultaneously.
If you were releasing a comedy special this week, what would it be called:
This week my special would be called something like “Not Ready Yet, But F*ck It” and I’ve always thought a good title for a future memoir would be “My Proximity to Wealth”
Funniest encounter you’ve ever had with a celebrity:
In college I interned for The Soup with Joel McHale. One day during a writer’s meeting Joel and the head writers held up numbers after each joke I pitched, like I was a gymnast at the olympics. I bombed my first joke and thankfully stuck the landing on the second.
Weirdest place you’ve ever performed any form of comedy:
I’ve done a lot of weird venues with Don’t Tell Comedy, like a pole dancing studio, rock climbing gym, and wrestling memorabilia store. But I’ve also been booked for shows in the middle of a health tech networking event and in the backroom of an arcade entertainment center (think Dave and Busters). I don’t recommend those.
A Tyler Wolf Fun Fact:
2 Truths and a Truth: I played baseball in college. I’ve driven across the country. I hate soggy cereal.
Where would you like your laughs to take you:
I would love to be a weekend headliner across the country. If that leads to an HBO/Netflix/Comedy Central/Don’t Tell Comedy Special that would be ideal. A one-man show on Broadway, creator of a sitcom, and comedy movie writer are all dreams as well.
What would you tell a potential comedian if they ask you how they can own the laughs:
Go to the US Trademark offices. Put in a request to trademark your jokes. Pay the processing fee. Wait a few weeks. Congratulations you now own the laughs that come from your jokes!
What are your thoughts on the future of comedy:
It seems pretty positive and slightly more meritocratic (though certainly not fully). Social media has somewhat lowered some of the industry barriers that existed previously. Sure there are still gatekeepers, but nothing is stopping comedians from starting a show, filming/posting their content, getting a following, and even putting a special out on YouTube or Vimeo. It’s not guaranteed to work but you don’t have to wait around for a corporation or business to annoint you as next up, like you might have had to do in the past.
If you could write one episode for one classic TV sitcom which show would it be and give a brief detailed sentence on the episode:
Seinfeld. Jerry starts dating a therapist but can never tell when she is in girlfriend or therapist mode. When she bills him after sex he fires her. George and Elaine start fake proposing every time they eat out to get a free dessert. Kramer gets a job as a minor league baseball mascot but gets fired after brawling with the opposing team’s mascot. (this is not an idea I’ve had for a long time, I just wrote it right now so these details would change drastically if I got the chance)
If you could choose 1 comedy club and 3 comedians to perform with on your perfect comedy show, how would it go:
Helium Comedy Club in Philly is one of the best clubs in the country. If it was people I could reasonably get to join me on a show, I’d want my brother Jamie Wolf, Manny Brown, and Betty Smithsonian (Jamie Pappas, Gray West, Domo Jones, too many to choose!). If I was picking from unattainable comics it would be Mike Birbiglia, Tig Notaro, Gary Gulman… obviously in this line-up I would be headlining. (I had written about 12 other names but forced myself to cut it to 3).
What’s next for you:
Continuing to hone my act all over Philly and across the country. There are a lot of things I hope to achieve and obtain in the coming year, 5 years, and 10 years.
Why should a person always laugh at life:
Because life is short and laughing is incredibly enjoyable, an intimate form of connection, and a way to cope with the bullshit. Is life really worth it if you aren’t laughing your way through it? I don’t think so.
Follow Tyler Wolf’s comedic journey on these social media websites:
Instagram/Twitter/Facebook/Snapchat/Tik-Tok: Tyler Wolf
Youtube: Tyler Wolf
Personal Website: Tyler Wolf