Pat Susmilch doesn't really have much of a plan when it comes to his comedy career.
"When you read memoirs about comedians, there really isn't ever that defining moment where they say to themselves, 'Next stop, Hollywood,'" he says. "For me, as long as I never have to get a real job again I'll be happy."
Though not necessarily by design, the 25-year-old comedian has been gaining momentum as of late, appearing regularly at venues across the Twin Cities including Acme Comedy Co. and Comedy Corner Underground. His material, which is funny, slightly self-deprecating, and maybe a touch nerdy (cats, Tetris, and waffles are all open-game during his set), makes him incredibly versatile and has allowed him to stand out in the constantly growing community of local standups.
Though his career may be on the upswing today, Susmilch nearly went down a very different path.
"I went to the U for a few semesters, but I dropped out when I realized that a comparative literature degree is a big waste of time," he recalls matter-of-factly. "Then I was a debt collector for a while, which was decent money but a real soul-crushing job. Then one day a friend of mine told me I should check out open mic night at Acme."
After attending the club's amateur showcase as a fan for a few consecutive weeks, Pat decided it was time to get onstage himself.
"I was so nervous the first time I did open mic, that I actually left my car running outside the whole time," he recalls. "I was really surprised that no one stole it, but my theory is that people saw it and figured it was too good to be true."
That night, the would-have-been debt collector took the stage and gave a successful first performance. "I had note cards that just had one word written on each of them," he begins with a slightly embarrassed tone. "It was awful. Just awful. But at the time, I thought I crushed."
He wouldn't get back on for several more weeks, allowing himself time to work on new material and slowly build up an act. Fast-forward five years, and today the awkward guy with the note cards is now one of the local scene's most promising up-and-comers, working with some pretty big names in comedy.
He recently opening for Chad Daniels during his four-night stint at Acme, and next month he'll be opening for the legendary Bobcat Goldthwait at the same venue. While some standups would be giddy -- if not a little intimidated about the prospect of performing in front of a comedy icon -- Susmilch maintains the same laid back attitude he shows onstage.
"I get to work with the bunny from Unhappily Ever After; that's going to be pretty fun."
While many aspiring comedians have big dreams of stardom, Susmilch is happy to simply keep improving.
"Everyone wants to do TV and movies and HBO specials; I just want to get better each year."