It was a cold Saturday evening in DC for me while Brian Kerns was chatting me up on the phone from the cozy climate in the city of Angels. This working comedian grew up in Manassas, Virginia and has the longest commute to get to his job. Most comedians that live in the area take a trip on the metro to get to the club, but this comic hops on an airplane and goes to the comedy clubs in Los Angeles. Whenever he heads west he leaves behind his wife and spends half the year away from her. “She let me quit my day job to pursue comedy full time. If I didn’t have her belief in me and I didn’t have her behind me and saying ‘You can do this’ then there would be no way that I could be doing this right now.”
Brian is a huge fan of the comedy scene in the DMV and thinks it is a great place for comics to hone their skills, but told me that if you want to become famous, you have to put yourself where the agents are. One difference he has noticed performing in L.A. as opposed to D.C. are the people in the seats watching. He said DC has better crowds where people are there to see comedy whereas “In L.A. and N.Y. you do open mics with angry comics looking at their notebooks.”
Comedy has always been part of Brian’s life. “I was funny in school and my mom is hilarious and my dad too.” He seriously considered becoming a comedian after a close friend died in a car accident. “He was the funniest dude I ever met. I would always tell him ‘You need to be a comedian’ and he would say ‘No, you need to be a comedian.”After his friend’s death , Kerns walked into the now closed Wiseacres Comedy Club & Pub to check out the comedy scene at one of the open mic nights. Afterwards, he thought, “I can do this.”
Brian stepped up to the stage for the first time there as “Boman Froman that the ladies call the Roman Showman.” “I was afraid to be myself on stage and so I wore a huge afro wig and I had these Elvis glasses on.” The first couple nights the crowd received him well, but it backfired one night when another comic decided to make a joke out of Froman for the evening. After that night he said, “All right, now I’m Brian Kerns.”
Brian has traveled all over the country and works wherever gigs take him. When he’s back on the east coast he enjoys going to the Arlington Drafthouse and Martini’s in White Plains, MD. He laso has participated in Last Comic Standing a couple times. If you aren’t familiar, it’s set up like American Idol; judges see a bunch of comics in a row, and those the judges like advance to do a bigger venue. The night show is comprised of comics that judges picked out of the massive line of people and is the proving ground for moving on to another city. Brian said when he went down to Miami he was chosen to do the night show by judges who book talent for Jay Leno. That the night show was actually shot at around three in the afternoon and the crowd was made up of 55 to 70 year-old-retirees that did not receive him well enough to get the “Red Pass” to move him to the next round. He tried to do the show again in Los Angeles, but didn’t even get to see the judges. “I was 90th in line and didn’t even get through the door.” (On a cool celebrity note, while in line he got a chance to meet Pauly Shore. If you read Why I Love DC you will notice that I mention Encino Man as movie I am very familiar with.)
Anyway, Brian told me why they the craft is called stand up, because “You got to keep standing up. It’s a commitment to getting punched in the face. The rejection level is out of control.” He was told once, “You’re funny, but you’re too dirty,” and he thought “Well, I guess I’m not working in Minnesota.”
I think he has the right attitude. You can catch Brian perform on the 28th and 29th at 8 and 10 pm both nights at the LOL at Club Elite in Temple Hills, Maryland and also visit Brian Kerns on the interweb to learn more about him.