Comedian Bryan Bruner is coming home for the holidays (plus a show at Beauty Bar on December 23), and he’s got a new comedy album, Welcome to Djibouti, under his belt. He spoke with the Weekly about his album and living in New York.
You’ve been in New York for almost three years now. What do you miss most about Las Vegas?
It was three years in October. I miss the desert. It sounds crazy, but I miss riding my dirt bike. I miss the open space and the elbow room of Las Vegas. I miss the way things are set up so you can get around. The casinos are so new and big, and everything’s so old here and packed on top of each other.
What can you tell me about your piece on the Travel Channel program, America Caught on Camera , that just aired this month?
I recorded my record, then right after that we went to Vegas and did the homecoming show, and then from Vegas we drove to LA and I taped that segment for America Caught on Camera. They only told me it would air sometime in December. It’s not like I was doing Good Morning America, it was a Travel Channel clip show. I got an email that it was airing that night. The last week I had done my first art show. I was asked to contribute six small robot drawings for an art opening. So within a week I had my first art show, I had a record debut and I had my first television credit.
I heard the Travel Channel segment was about an experience you’d had in Las Vegas with some hecklers. What happened?
It happened in Boomerangs Bar. This dude heckled me and I brought him up onstage. I had been doing comedy for only about six months. I brought him up on stage and started making fun of him, but it wasn’t like I was even mean. It was kind of a weak response. I think I made fun of his pants and then sent him offstage. Maybe a minute or two later, I’m back into my routine and in my periphery, I see this large object coming out of the light and it was the dude’s buddy shoving me at like a hundred miles an hour. He pushed me into the big screen TV, an older one that was really deep. It was recessed in the wall and I got wedged in between the TV and the side of the wall. I’m holding onto the mic and the guy’s yelling at me, but because I’m still holding onto the mic, it sort of uncorks me from the wall and you could literally hear my butt go “pop.” People finally figured out it wasn’t part of the act.
How did that affect the path of your career?
I quit doing stand up for six years after this. … It was kind of the straw that broke the camel’s back. I was about 21, and I was having a really hard time writing things that weren’t just stupid boner jokes. I needed to grow up, learn, become scarred and figure out life so I can write the better boner joke.
Is there any certain type of joke you always try to work into your act?
Yes, but I don’t think it’s always the same type of joke but more what kind of mood I’m in. If I have a show at a hipster bar in Brooklyn and I know those guys won’t like NASCAR, I’ll do NASCAR jokes. And nine times out of 10, those guys will say they loved it. That’s what it is—whatever my audience is, I like to do something that they wouldn’t be used to. I don’t want to pander to them; I want them to take a walk down my path. That’s why they invited me, to let me tell what I know, love it or hate it.
Who is your favorite comedian right now?
Aw man, that’s like asking me to pick my favorite punk rock song. It just kind of depends on what I’m feeling. When I want to get hit with real, dark stuff or I want to get bummed out, I’ll listen to Doug Stanhope. I say that in a positive way. When I want to get shaken up, I’ll listen to him. There’s a lot of new people out there. Kyle Kinane is great. Ian Bagg’s always been one of my favorites. I like people who tell stories. I’ve even been going kind of retro a little bit with some old Cosby records to see how he tells his story. I always have time for a Dave Attell bit. Mike DeStefano is great to listen to. … I like the edgier guys. I like the guys who will turn off a church group. And that’s why I love to go to Vegas, because they like that kind of stuff.