Joseph Scrimshaw on California: "My favorite was seeing John Cho at the DMV"

Just because he's moved to Los Angeles doesn't mean Joseph Scrimshaw isn't still on the Twin Cities' radar. The comedian, writer, and actor returns this weekend for a standup performance at Comedy Corner Underground. 

After an arduous back-and-forth between our respective "people" (okay, it was just a friendly email exchange), we got some answers about his first months in California.

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City Pages: So, are you famous yet? How have things gone in your first couple of months in California?

Joseph Scrimshaw: I am not famous yet -- as most people probably know since if I was famous they would know since that's what fame means -- but I have applied for my fame license. It's much like a driver's license, except the tests are constant and the fees are very high.

I've had a great first couple of months doing standup shows, podcasts, and some writing/performing with fellow Minnesotan Mike Rylander on a web series called What the Fark? In this episode, I play a ninja expert. A dream come true! 

I also have some shows coming up with cool people like [redacted] and [redacted], but I've learned to be careful about what you say because nothing is for sure in Los Angeles until about seven years after it's actually happened. 

How different are things out there, and have you been able to fuel new comedy with that?

Things are very different and yes, there's a lot of comedy to be had from the new experiences. One thing no one prepared me for is that the Doors are a very respected band in California. They are often played in grocery stores, gas stations, public parks, etc. Right out in the open, like there's no shame in it. I would say I'm experiencing a 267 percent increase in hearing the Doors. 

I'm also enjoying the nice weather. When I left Minnesota, there were a few people online who said I was just trading snow for fire, but luckily the sky has not yet rained down fire on me for months at a time.

I also went to a taping of Comedy Central's @midnight. I like the show a lot, and I've been lucky enough to win their hashtag war a couple of times and have my jokes featured on the show. For the tapings, they don't allow any phones or cameras in the studio, and they're very serious about it. It was fun to stand in line and sort of freak out with everyone else about what to do with our hands without our phones. At one point I heard a man cry out, '"an't I even have my Nintendo DS? I don't even know how to enable the wi-fi settings!" 

What kind of new material do you have for this show?

The show at Comedy Corner Underground will have some stuff about my new experiences in L.A.: the liquor store that also has a fax machine, accidentally stalking a character actor from the TV show Alias, visiting Lassie's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Doors. The show's also got a lot of new stuff about technology, sexism, and our obsession with post-apocalyptic narratives. So, basically, a fun evening of standup comedy!

Other upcoming plans for local shows or album/CD releases?

I'll be back in Minnesota again in July for the big sci-fi/fantasy convention CONvergence. I'll be doing another new hour of standup comedy, a reading from my book Comedy of Doom, and a special edition of my podcast, Obsessed, all about the internet's biggest obsession: cats.

For new albums, I'm raising funds to produce a holiday comedy album. Partially because I have a lot of holiday-themed material I've built up over the years, but mostly because I don't see why musicians should be the only ones who release holiday albums. I'm close to unlocking the holiday album as a stretch goal on the cool crowdfunding site Patreon, so hopefully I'll have a new album out for the holidays.

Any famous people sightings?

A lot! They are everywhere! My favorite was seeing John Cho at the DMV. John Cho is known for many things, but I immediately recognized him as the actor who plays Sulu in the new Star Trek movies. Since I was at the DMV to take a written driver's test to get my California license, it was nice to know even the guy who drives the Enterprise needs to go to the DMV. 


Joseph Scrimshaw
8 p.m. Saturday, June 7
Comedy Corner Underground
1501 Washington Ave. S.
For tickets, visit online