What's life like after 'Last Comic Standing' for Clayton English?
If you go
What: "Last Comic Standing" Live Tour
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 20
Where: Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center, 50 N. George St., York
Cost: $32, $42, $52
More information: Visit www.mystrandcapitol.org .
If there's one thing comedian Clayton English remembers about his experience on the latest season of NBC's "Last Comic Standing," it's the pressure.
The Atlanta native has performed on BET's "Hell Date" and TV One's "Bill Bellamy's Who's Got Jokes," and fans also remember him as Peanut on "Tyler Perry's House of Payne."
But when the lights went down and all eyes — including the judges' — were on him, even 10 years of experience couldn't shake his nerves.
"Comedians are already in their own head and neurotic and have their own little quirks about them," English said. "You put 25 of them in a room and tell them they're about to go perform on stage for a live audience as well as for millions of people on television, and it definitely becomes a pressure area."
English said he remembers freezing up in the first episode of the season because he finished telling all of his jokes before his time was up.
"There were times that I doubted," he said. "I was like, 'Am I even funny? Do I even have any jokes?'"
And right before the third episode, he had an asthma attack and was taken to the emergency room. But he pushed through and learned how to handle the pressure.
"I thought, hey, Michael Jordan played a whole game with the flu, I can perform three minutes of comedy while I'm having an asthma attack," he said.
And he did.
Those two mishaps aside, English breezed through the competition defeating 99 other comedians with his energetic style. The judges joked that English looked like a boxer in a boxing ring the way he would fill up the entire stage telling jokes about everything from race to politics to stories about his life.
Now, after being crowned "Last Comic Standing" champ at the Sept. 9 finale, English is following in the footsteps of some of his favorite comedians like Kathleen Madigan, Dave Chappelle and Jerry Seinfeld by bringing his comedy tour to Southcentral Pa.
He — along with the four other finalists Andy Erikson, Dominique, Ian Bagg and Michael Palascak — will perform 20-minute sets when the "Last Comic Standing" Live Tour comes to the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center in York Oct. 20.
This time around, fans will get to see a more adult show because they won't have the constraints of network television, English said.
"It's also still very funny," he added.
In between tour stops, English took the time to talk about his experience on the show and what people can expect when "Last Comic Standing" comes to York. Here's what he had to say.
Q: How did it feel standing on that stage at the finale?
A: It was amazing because you got three legends that I watched growing up and now I'm getting judged by them, and when they didn't have any critiques I kind of felt like I figured it out. Like, I'm doing the right thing.
Q: What was a typical day like for you before "Last Comic Standing"?
A: I worked a lot of jobs. I worked at Ikea, I worked at Target, you know, or McDonalds. I worked for the circus for a year and a half. That's probably about the oddest (But, in the last year,) a day for me basically would be get up in the afternoon. I haven't worked regular job in last five years. So, I get up in the afternoon, maybe do a little writing, check my email and usually that evening, I'd be hosting somewhere or on a show or even just going up on open mics.
Q: And now that you've won, how has life changed?
A: I can actually buy stuff now. (laughs) I eat regularly, so that's changed. Really, it's just a lot more opportunities. I'm able to perform at a lot of places I hadn't performed before. My work schedule basically fills itself. I have people that work with me now as far as agents and lawyers and stuff like that ... People call themselves fans now. Every now and then somebody will recognize me and congratulate me. It's cool to know they watched the show. A lot of people tell me, 'You were the one I wanted to win. I was pulling for you.' It's just good to have that kind of energy out there.
Q: Have you had any time to relax since the finale?
A: Well, the day the episode aired, I did "Seth Meyers" earlier that day The next day, I had to get up and do "The Today Show" and perform like a minute of stand-up and do a quick interview. Then, it was to the airport to Spokane, Wash., and our first show was the next day. I've been on the road ever since.
Q: Aside from bragging rights, you also won $250,000 and a development deal with NBC. Do you have anything in the works now?
A: Most of that's probably not going to get jumping until next year when I'm off the road, when I wrap up my obligations with this tour. I got a lot of ideas I've been kicking around in my head for a long time. It's just making sure we can get the vision that I want on the screen. It's not an overnight thing, so I'm ready for the marathon. I (also) got a small role on an HBO pilot called "Brothers in Atlanta." Hopefully, if that gets picked up as a series, I might have some more work in there.
Q: What can people expect to hear at your show in York?
A: They're going to get to hear about the adventures of Clayton English and the mind of Clayton English, pretty much. I kind of just talk about every day stuff. I make conversation. I like for people, no matter who they are, no matter what they are — age, race, whatever — I want them to feel welcome and I want them to understand what I'm talking about ... A few things might be a little political, not a lot. Some things might be super silly, and then some things are going to be good old-fashioned story telling.
Q: Will your fans hear any of the same jokes they heard on the show?
A: There's a few that people really liked that I did on the show, and I think (if they) come out to see the live show, they'll actually get to see the joke in its entirety. Because there were a lot of jokes that I cut down for TV and time.