Comedian Alex Koll on Greek Mythology, Air Guitar, and His Upcoming Show at Space 55
Alex Koll is a comedian who bridges the gap between alternative and mainstream comedy. A market for the comic's jokes was there, but the venue wasn't, so he and a couple of buddies started a weekly comedy show called The Business in San Francisco, and as he would put it: Business is good.
Koll and his guests will be dropping by Space 55, 636 E. Pierce Street, on Monday August 6 at 8 p.m. for what is sure to be an entertaining hour. We sat down with the comedian to talk about his upcoming trip to Phoenix and the medical evidence for why he's funny ...
When did you first figure out that you were funny?
It was detected early. Would you like to see the ultrasound?
In 8th grade I wrote a book report on Greek Mythology in the first person as Zeus. I included a few hidden innuendoes about having sex with mortals in the guise of an animal, which was kinda Zeus's jam.
When I read it to the class those lines hit super hard. I was totally blindsided by it and immediately hooked. My teacher took me aside afterwards and made me promise her that if I ever became a comedian I would stay away from the dirty stuff and not become "filthy." Oops. Sorry Mrs. Smith.
Anyway, I think that was it.
Who inspires your act?
Everyone in my life that will never grace a stage but is just a pure funny person and says the funniest stuff ever. Everyone has them. It's the most genuine laughs you can get, and also easy to steal.
As someone who has won sketch comedy awards while also performing standup comedy, what's the key difference between the two mediums?
Which do you prefer?
Stand up is easier to organize and execute, but there is an extra magic in reaching that moment when you're in lock-step with other people. It's the closest I think I'll ever come to being in a band, which I assume is what everyone wants to do.
As a two-year champion of Air Guitar battles, did the loss of your title steal a piece of your soul? Are you working to reclaim the throne?
No, all Air Guitar frees your soul. If not, you're doing it all wrong. My nemesis, Cold Steel Renegade is a worthy opponent and in the end the competition doesn't steal your soul but sharpens it. We both went head-to-head again this year in San Francisco, only to be beaten out by another competitor. So in the humbling moment of loss we both found the value of camaraderie, and together beat the winner to death in the parking lot with his own air guitar.
The Business has some impressive names on its "previous employees" list. How did your long-term comedy show get started?
Myself and fellow Businessman Bucky Sinister were lamenting the lack of decent places to get longer stage time. The average open-mic or workout room offers 5-10min (if you're lucky) to perform and we were evolving our routines past that. Bucky comes from a spoken word/poetry background and was saying he was seriously considering just moving into a retail space, building a stage in the middle and leaving the front door open and performing to anyone who comes in.
I suggested we rent a theater cheap enough to split the loss if no one ever comes, and that's what we did. Sean Keane and Chris Garcia joined in too and we were off. At first no one came, but we swore the show would go on even if there was no one there (which happened a couple times). If we had the same number of people in the audience as was on stage, we called that a "Fair Fight." Meanwhile we were all touring separately and doing festivals and such and met a lot of great comedians along the way. When they came through SF, we would snag them to do the show. Three years later we're selling out almost every week and we've added Caitlin Gill and Chris Thayer to the permanent lineup. Business is booming.
Your bus tweets are incredible. Would you mind picking one that, advertently or inadvertently describes the experience our readers will achieve upon attending your show?
Bum with socks on hands talking about John Wayne
Tickets for Koll's show are $7 online right now and $10 at the door.