Oct. 27 (UPI) — Comedian Kurt Braunohler is back with his second full-length special, Perfectly Stupid, and the veteran comic said the COVID-19 pandemic put several wrinkles into the development process.
Perfectly Stupid, which premieres Thursday on Moment, and will be available on-demand starting Nov. 16 and on YouTube on Dec. 16, features the funnyman’s takes on fatherhood, growing up Catholic and driving away with the gas pump hose still in his car.
The special was filmed in summer 2021, just as entertainment venues were starting to reopen after more than a year being closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The conditions during that time made preparing for the taping unusual.
“We’d usually go on the road for like a couple months and just like run it and run it and run it,” Braunohler told UPI in a recent Zoom interview. “This one, we had to kind of conceptually put it together on paper and then just make sure it worked when we had the few opportunities to run it.”
Braunohler said he was able to perform the set “two or three” times in Los Angeles, where he lives with his family, before an extremely abbreviated road tour.
“Right when we were finally able to book [shows] to do this special, I think I booked five weekends, but then had to cancel three of them, so I really only got two weekends to prepare,” he said.
The special’s director, Jonah Ray Rodrigues, helped Braunohler by attending all of the shows in his mini tour.
“He would just give notes after every single show. Our first show back was in Portland [Ore.], I did five shows in three days, [and received] notes after each one — adjusting, adjusting, adjusting.”
He said another helpful aspect of his abbreviated return to the stage was the enthusiasm of the audience.
“That first weekend, in May of 2021, in Portland, it was cool. It felt different just because it was everyone’s first time being out, like the entire audience. It was their first show, it was my first show, and so that feeling was very exciting,” he said.
Braunohler said he’s been surprised to see how the crowds have changed since those early days of venues reopening.
“That May through August, shows were packed, everybody was so excited,” he said. “And now, people I think are more apprehensive about just going out. Even though now it’s ‘over,’ I think people just don’t go out as much anymore. So rooms that usually are full are like three-quarters full.”
Braunohler, who co-hosts the Bananas podcast with Scotty Landes, said he has found that “live podcasts do just as well if not better than stand-up dates.”
He said audience members might be more willing to go out to see a podcast taping “because they’re very familiar with the podcast, and they know what it will be delivered as.”
Stand-up, by contrast, is more of a “wild card,” because audiences, even those familiar with the comedian they’re going to see, never know exactly what to expect.
Braunohler said recording Bananas and doing weekly virtual installments of Hot Tub with Kurt and Kristen, his long-running live variety show with Kristen Schaal, helped him keep his comedy instincts sharp during the shutdowns, but he was still excited to be able to return to stand-up.
“The appeal is the simplicity of it, that it’s just me, and I can go and do it whenever I want,” Braunohler said of performing stand-up comedy.
He said there’s more freedom, as well.
“There’s a certain level of gatekeeping for stand-up, but nowhere near what it’s like for TV and movies. And it’s exactly what I want to say. So that level of control, you don’t really get anywhere else, other than if you’re like an auteur filmmaker who has had 500 hits already and can do whatever he wants. That feeling of being able to do whatever you want is so wonderful,” he said.
Work on writing projects
Braunohler said he is currently working on some projects with his frequent writing partner — his wife, Lauren Cook.
“I’ve got a movie that my wife and I wrote that we’re really trying to get made right now, I’d love to see that movie made. And then to sell a TV show, to actually get it — I’ve sold a lot of scripts, I would like to actually see one in production. That would be joyous,” he said.
He said dealing with the process of trying to get movies and TV shows made can be “frustrating,” but he sees the positive side.
“The one thing that I do take away from it is, my wife and I just keep getting better at doing all of it,” he said.
“By this process, we are improving, and although we don’t have anything in the real world to show for it, it’s good to know that we have gotten better at doing what we do. And, you know, this whole game is about not giving up.”
He said the release of Perfectly Stupid helps him deal with the disappointments.
“It’s really nice, actually, to have something come out, that’s another reason it’s great to do stand-up. It’s like, ‘Look, here it is, something from my brain that actually exists in the world,’ instead of writing scripts all day long for only a couple of executives to read.”