Stand-up comedian Andrew Ginsburg recently released his latest comedy album Eat the Yolk, and it is a tight set of killer material that will have anyone who has spent any amount of time in a gym grinning from ear to ear. Most remarkable about this album, however, is that Ginsburg sounds more at home with this new material; he’s in the pocket in almost every joke. It’s been two years since Working Author last spoke to the comic, and he was eager to tell us about his growth as a writer and as a comedian.
“Paul DeLesDernier – he’s my writing partner – he basically got me on track,” Ginsburg says. “He said, ‘This is what you need to do.’ And we write together when I go out [to Los Angeles] for about a week every month. And we write each morning, get up early…and he really helped me find my way. I was lost. He helped me kind of talk about fitness and family and he narrowed the subjects. I was flying all over before and he helped me focus on where I should be.”
Ginsburg is an east coast comic, but Working Author is always hopeful that he’ll pull up stakes and move out to Los Angeles. Regrettably, that’s an unlikely outcome in the near future. “My training business is [in New York] right now,” he explains. “I can only do the one week right now, but I hope to eventually move out [to Los Angeles] and [Paul and I can write] every day and we’d be infinitely more productive. It’s me at my happiest and I know he enjoys it too. We just pick subjects and start peeling.”
Listening to his latest album, the evolution of Ginsburg’s set construction and command of his performance is palpable. And to reach this new level, he focused on one simple task. “Just making sure I have a rich premise. Paul really helped me get that in my mind. And kind of finding my attitude and trying to use all the different angles on the topic. The jokes become routines and it gets a lot more in-depth. Staying on one subject and not jabbing it and moving on to the next subject. A lot less circumlocution.”
Yet, while some things have changed, others have not, like the stand-up comedy industry as a whole. It’s even more saturated by fake comedians than it was two years ago. “Very few people think they can sing – thank God,” Ginsburg jokes. According to him, it seems like all the people who were laid off from their day jobs have decided to pursue their “true calling” as a stand-up. “I don’t know if there’s more clubs necessarily, but it’s definitely over saturated. And it’s all sex talk, one-night stand jokes and a lot less new ideas. Everybody’s talking about dating and sex, which I guess every TV show does.”
“We’re bobble heads,” Ginsburg says, explaining how comedy clubs view comedians, “just alcohol salesmen. If I want to stand on stage and defecate, but I put 40 asses in the seats they’re gonna love me. I’ll have to clean up my mess on stage, but they’ll love me. They’ll have me back. They just want numbers. I understand that; it’s like a restaurant. They just want numbers.”
“There is a magic to it, but if it doesn’t bring anyone, [the club] can’t pay their rent bills. I know; it loses its art form and everything, but I’ve seen it. It’s really just about the numbers sadly. I wish it was about how funny somebody is, but the guy who brings 20 people gets asked back even though he may not have had as good of a set as the guy who brought 5 people.”
Despite his sobering outlook on the industry, the current state of affairs hasn’t jaded him enough to lose sight of the most important aspect of stand-up comedy: the comedian/audience relationship. “I think it is intimate. I went to George Carlin’s shows as often as I could and you look at him as almost a deity. He’s the one that sits on the pedestal and you just want a little bit of that. How does he do it? He’s the magician. I think…there’s a little bit of a hero worship; they do become kind of sacred beings. They’re the philosopher. You go to listen to the wise man – the sage.”
Ginsburg is a champion body builder and personal trainer, so it was surprising when his previous album had so little gym humor in it. Eat the Yolk is the exact opposite. “Eat the Yolk is all about the gym and personal training—it’s what I should have been talking about all along for the past 12 years. It’s about what I know! My family and personal training and yoga and nutrition. Just the gym business. One of the things I talk about is ‘static simulations of various modes of transportation’ like the treadmill and the spinning classes and the stair masters. All these things where you just stay in place. It’s such a weird world. Yeah, now I’m talking mostly about the gym. This album is the thing I’m proudest of; I think I finally got it.”
He wants to make clear, however, that he isn’t turning into some kind of gimmick comedian, using his bodybuilding as a persona on stage. “I’m a comic who happens to be a bodybuilder. This past week I wore a long sleeve button down. At the Caroline show I wore a tight blue t-shirt. So I could go either way. But I am a comedian that does bodybuilding. I’m not a huge guy. I’m lean. I’m fit. But I definitely don’t have the steroid freakiness to me. So you wouldn’t even know I was a bodybuilder if you saw me on stage. I really just want [audiences] to listen to me. I want to hide my tits a little bit.”
Follow Andrew Ginsburg at his website: GinsburgComedy.com.