I recently had the pleasure to interview comedian Brandon Scott Wolf who was recently hired as a staff writer for Neil Patrick Harris’s new show “Best Time Ever With Neil Patrick Harris”. Other writers for the show include Neil Patrtick Harris, Jim Wise, Paul Greenberg and head writer Mason Steinberg. After years of hard work in addition to performing stand up around the big apple, contributing to SNL’s Weekend Update, and online content, his career in comedy took off. He goes on to explain how he was able to stand out in a competitive field and the importance of being consistent and driven.
Christian Roberts: What inspired you to have a life and career in comedy?
Brandon Scott Wolf: I don’t think there’s one specific thing or moment in time that I can point to and say “That inspired me to pursue a career in comedy,” but it was more so my upbringing, the people in my life, and my overall athletic ineptitude — it was apparent from a very early age that I was never going to play sports professionally. In the third grade I ran face first into a telephone pole while playing tag.
That being said, I was raised by parents and grew up alongside an older brother and sister who could easily be characters in a network sitcom or animated series that would get cancelled after its second season, but really take off in popularity once it hits Netflix.
For real though, I think everyone in my family is way funnier than me, except my sister Jen. She’s not.
As a stand-up comic, a lot of my favorite jokes in my act are literally just quotes from family members. Obviously I tweak stuff, but if you want to dissect and really try to figure out why I’m a comedian, or if you just want a good laugh, check out my mom’s Twitter @GoulashYum.
She’s no lie a favorite among my friends and other comedians in the New York City scene and if you follow her she will immediately call me and say “Do you know this person? They just followed me.”
Also, when I was little I watched a lot of Mel Brooks films.
Roberts: What were some challenging obstacles to get to where you’re at currently?
Wolf: Right now I’m currently sitting in the writers’ room of Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris so to get here I walked a half mile from my South Brooklyn apartment to the closest Q train stop, but before I got to the Q I stopped in at a small bagel shop and was like “Could I have a toasted poppy seed bagel with cream cheese and a medium iced coffee?” and the cashier was like “We’re out of poppy seed. We have plain, wheat, egg, sesame, and cinnamon raisin,” so I was like “Sesame, I guess,” and the cashier was like “Toasted?” and I was like “Yeah,” and then she was like “That’ll be $4.50,” and then I tried to pay using a debit card, and she was like “It’s cash only. The machine’s down,” so then I used a nearby ATM, took out cash, paid, received my breakfast, walked the rest of the way to the Q, saw that the Q wasn’t running toward Manhattan due to construction, waited on the platform to go deeper into Brooklyn while eating my food, transfered to a Manhattan-bound train, stood on the second train for well over an hour and half due to delays and how crowded it was, eventually exited that train, walked from the Q stop closest to Kaufman Astoria Studios to the studio lot itself, walked into the BTE office, hustled up three flights of stairs because I was 5 minutes late, and finally headed down a pretty long hallway to enter my office, threw out the paper bag my breakfast came in, and sat down at my desk to begin writing.
Also, if you want a more serious answer, when I moved to New York from Pennsylvania I had to completely relearn how to perform stand up.
I started getting on stage when I was 19 years old and by the time I graduated from college I had two solid credits to my name: I was the winner of the TBS and RooftopComedy.com National College Comedy Competition and I performed a stand-up set on George Lopez’s late night show “Lopez Tonight.”
Unfortunately, as a broke recent college grad I didn’t have the means to move to New York City immediately after school to pursue a career in comedy so for a little over two years I worked as a bus boy and host in a suburban Philadelphia restaurant and lived at my parents’ house to save up.
Careerwise I felt stagnant. I wasn’t getting on stage that often, but I was doing as much as I could with the time and resources I had. Although I couldn’t drive to center city Philadelphia every night to perform, I was writing every day, posting jokes on social media, and one night while sitting in my childhood bedroom, which at the time was also my adult bedroom, I was reading a Twitter bio of a comedian that said “I’m a contributing writer for SNL Weekend Update,” and I thought, “How can I get ‘Saturday Night Live’ to hire me?”
Then it hit me. I checked to see if the handle “@HireMeSNL” was available on Twitter. It was and after 9 months of writing 10-to-20 monologue jokes per day and posting my favorites online I was offered a tryout by an actual SNL producer. I wrote 20 jokes, sent them in, and three days later I landed the gig. It was freelance, but it was with “Saturday Night Live.”
That was my third solid credit and I knew if I was ever going to have a shot at becoming a professional comedian I would have to move to New York, take all of the jokes I had written since graduation, and get myself back on stage. And that’s exactly what I did.
The only problem? I hadn’t held a mic in my hands while talking in front of an audience in years.
So I had to relearn stand up.
Luckily, I never stopped writing and had all of those jokes.
Roberts: How long have you been doing comedy in NYC?
Wolf: I’ve been performing stand up in New York City for the past 2 years, but I’ve been writing and performing comedy for over 6.
When I was a freshman at Penn State I really didn’t do much aside from partying every night.
Then, on the first day of my sophomore year, I joined Phroth, the university’s humor magazine. After a few months, a handful of the articles I wrote were deemed “good enough” to be published, and with that tiny bit of success, I shifted my focus from partying every night to writing comedy AND partying every night.
Then I began thinking “I wonder if there’s a club I could join that’s like Phroth, but will let me perform what I write on stage?” After looking into it, the answer was a resounding “No.”
I found out that Penn State didn’t have an outlet for stand-up comedy, but that wasn’t going to deter me. I got my hands on some mic equipment, invited a few friends and acquaintances over to my place (which was on the second floor of a downtown State College apartment complex), and hosted an open mic in my literally homegrown comedy club — Second Floor Stand-up.
That’s how it all started.
Roberts: Outside of comedy, how do comedians branch out and do other forms of work?
Wolf: Usually they stop pursuing comedy and then they pick up work wherever they can… BUT if stand ups wants to branch out and do other forms of work within comedy then it really depends on what each individual comic wants to do.
No matter what that is though, and you have to be honest with yourself, the most important thing is to put in the time and effort. Go after what you want. Do it and do it as best as you can. Good stuff will come to those who set goals and work toward them.
Roberts: What are some words of advice you can give to people hoping to start out in comedy?
Wolf: Be yourself. Have fun.
After 6+ years writing and performing comedy, arguably the one thing that I’m known for isDateBrandonScottWolf.com: The #1 Online Dating Site For Brandon Scott Wolf.
It’s different, people were able to see my sense of humor, and I had a lot of fun making it.