Chad Daniels is a true Minnesota comic. While other comedians make good in the Cities, then split for one coast or the other, Daniels made a name for himself at Acme and other clubs around the metro area, then made the big move to ... Fergus Falls. "It sounds weird to say you just want to be the C-student, but standup is my first love," he says. "I'm not looking to get a TV show or anything like that. I just want to keep writing and making CDs. I don't want to be famous. What I want out of comedy is to make a comfortable living."
It's worked out pretty well for him so far. Using Fergus Falls as his home base, Daniels works the road, and to much acclaim. His act has gotten him noticed in L.A., even if he doesn't live there, which has led to TV spots on The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn and Comedy Central's Live at Gotham. Last March his first Comedy Central Presents... half-hour special aired, and this week at Acme he'll celebrate the release of his second CD, Busy Being Awesome (Stand Up! Records). He'll be joined by local notables Erik Allen and Tim Harmston -- not a show to miss.
There's just one catch, however. "I don't have any idea how to throw a CD release party," Daniels adds sheepishly, "so I'll just, you know, be at the bar, selling CDs." City Pages caught up with one of Minnesota's best and brightest road comics in the midst of his 100-show college tour to talk about the new disc, the show at Acme, and why you shouldn't go to L.A. uninvited.
GN: What have you learned since you recorded your first disc, Two Minutes for Stale Hacking, that you changed on this one?
Daniels: You definitely need to write from your own point of view. I've heard some people say "That sounds like a Chad Daniels joke." Before I was more nostalgic comedy, starting every premise with "Remember when...." But of course, everybody remembers when.
GN: What is a Chad Daniels Joke?
Daniels: It's being a likeable asshole. It's a little in-your-face, but for some reason you just can't get too upset about it.
GN: Do you still think of Acme as your home base?
Daniels: I absolutely do. One of the only times I auditioned for Last Comic Standing was at Acme. I made it to the L.A. round, and I think I made them mad because you're supposed to thank Last Comic Standing for that chance, but I just kept thanking Acme and thanking Last Comic Standing for going to Minneapolis.
What makes Acme great is Louis [Lee], the owner. Him and Rich Miller, who used to book Knucklehead's ... a lot of times in a city you have two big clubs, and the owners say you can only work at one of them. Louis and Rich never ever did that. They said you can absolutely work both clubs. Louis doesn't manage anybody, but recently I had a problem with something in my career, and Louis and I had lunch and he walked me through it. He kind of knows both perspectives, from the manager's perspective and the club owner's perspective. He has the great philosophy that you don't go to LA until you're invited.
Oh, man, there's so much crap comedy to sift through when you go to L.A. and New York because everyone whose parents told them they were funny go there. Probably 75 percent of all comedians live in New York and L.A. I think there are so many people who go out there, and they haven't had to do bar gigs in the Midwest, which really gets you on top of your game. Not to say that I know everything about comedy. But the first impression I made when I did the Melrose Improv [in L.A.], the lady really liked me and helped me get some work, get Live at Gotham. I screwed up a lot of first impressions before that, but I got that one right.
GN: People used to talk about "Boston comics" as a group or a type. Is there such a thing as "Minnesota comics"?
Daniels: I think there is. Minnesota comedy is just funny comedy. When I would go on the road, people would ask me where I was from, and they automatically gave me the benefit of the doubt that I was funny because I was from Minneapolis. That's from the hard work of Nick Swardson, Dave Mordal, John DeBoer ... guys like that. They busted their humps on the road, and now when guys like me say we're from Minneapolis, I get a bit of a free pass. Besides the big two, Minneapolis and Austin, Texas are the two most respected cities for comedy.