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Interviews

Comedian Carmen Lynch Discusses Standup, Spain, and Springsteen

The comic performed a stellar 'Conan' debut earlier this month

carmen lynch interview

Carmen Lynch is a standup comedian who has appeared on Inside Amy Schumer, The Late Show with David Letterman, and Last Comic Standing. On March 1st, she performed her first standup set on Conan (watch her hilarious set). She was born in California and raised in Spain.

During my interview with Carmen, we discussed her goals in comedy, her favorite Spanish customs, and more. Visit CarmenLynch.com and follow Carmen on Twitter.


Dan Redding: How was the experience of performing on Conan?

Carmen Lynch: Amazing – I’ve always been a fan of his mostly because he’s hilarious and tall. It’s crazy watching these shows for years and then you get to be on it. It’s surreal.

The first time I saw you perform, in 2013, I remember thinking that your deadpan delivery was really funny. How conscious are you of cultivating your voice in terms of your style of delivery?

Thank you! I think it’s a very organic thing. I don’t think of myself as that deadpan, honestly. I get that a lot. I’m just my relaxed self onstage and that’s what comes out. I think sometimes, offstage, I might have a little more energy. It’s not a conscious thing – it’s just where I’m at. There are moments when I don’t think I’m deadpan at all. It’s an up-and-down thing.

I’ve been hearing comedians talking about a ‘comedy bubble’ right now – everyone has their own podcast and comedy is so popular. I’m wondering if you think the broad popularity of contemporary comedy is something that will burst, or if it is a bubble at all.

For me it constantly feels like it’s increasing – there are more comics, it never feels like there’s a lull, or it’s gonna pop… The more I do it, the more I meet new comedians, the more podcasts there are out there, the more people are doing their own thing. It seems to be going in the same direction all the time. I don’t know if it’s ever gonna pop – the bubble just keeps getting bigger! (laughter)

In terms of your own career, what are the goals that you’re looking at in the next few years?

I’m gonna be a big star! (laughter)

(laughter) Well I certainly hope so! I guess what I’m wondering is, do you see standup as your primary voice as an artist, or are film and television ultimate goals?

They’re goals in addition to my standup career. Standup is my favorite – it feels like a very pure form of expressing yourself. It’s live and it’s always different, every single time. There’s something really exciting about that. Even if you’re in the same venue, it’s a different night, it’s a different show. You’re in a different mood, you’re doing different material. To me, it’s the most exciting part of this career. I love it.

Obviously, we always want to fill all the seats, and it’s important to try other things. Yeah, I would love to be on television or in movies. It’s good to shoot for all that, but I would never wanna stop standup.

Are you a writer? Are you the type of person that has six unfinished screenplays on your laptop?

They’re always unfinished! Yes – I love to write. I just have to complete something. That’s my goal: to complete something, and have someone like it, and do it. But yeah, there’s always stuff in my head. I don’t think I write as much as I should, because some of that stuff just keeps floating in my head. In standup, you’re kind of programmed to be observing and writing all the time. When you’re not writing, you’re thinking about material. You have to take breaks and go on vacation – but I think you are always writing in some shape or form.

Where do you tend to have ‘eureka’ moments when you think of a standup bit? When does that happen for you – does that happen with friends, or when you’re walking down the street?

Usually when I’m alone. Like if I’m driving – which is the worst time to write something down – I have to grab my phone and record it or something. Usually when I’m not even thinking – when my brain is clear and I’m present. Sometimes if I’m talking to someone, it happens. That can do it, too. But it’s usually when I’m not expecting it. You’re not forcing it and you’re just kind of there… Sometimes I do sit at the coffee shop and come up with stuff. There’s no one way [of generating ideas], which I think is pretty cool.

I went to design school, and I had an illustration professor who said, “There’s no office for this job, this job is in your head.” I always liked that.

Yeah, that’s great!

What do you think about the format of the standup comedy album – is that still a relevant format, and do you have plans to release an album?

Oh my god – I’ve been saying I want to do that for years, and I haven’t done it, and I don’t know why. I’m hoping I will. I start to feel like you grow out of jokes and you’re like, “Oh, I should’ve made that first album!” I would love to do that, yes. Maybe in the next year. Who knows? Do you think I should make one?

I think you should! Like you said – if nothing else, it’s a great way to document your career. I’m such a huge Dave Attell fan and he only has one album [2003’s Skanks for the Memories] and it’s so good, but this is a guy who has been onstage practically every night, and I think it’s a crime that more of his material has not been preserved.

Yeah, that was the best album ever made!

It’s so fucking funny. It’s cool that people like Louis C.K. and Hannibal Buress are releasing specials often now, so at least the material is preserved. It’s so easy to do stuff in a D.I.Y. way now that there’s no reason not to.

That’s true. Alright, well expect one from me in the next five years.

CULTURE QUESTIONS

Alright, I’m gonna change gears and ask you some questions about cultural stuff for a feature called ‘Culture Questions.’

Oh, interesting.

What made you laugh the hardest laughter of your life?

One time my friend left her Facebook page open on her laptop – I wrote on her status update, “I love Jesus,” and I hit post. I don’t know why, but that made me laugh so hard, and she walked in and she was like, “What’s so funny?” And I’m like, “Nothing, I’m in a really good mood,” and I couldn’t stop laughing. She came over and saw what I did. That was just a whole new (bout) of laughter – people were already commenting, “I didn’t know that about you,” and “I love Jesus too.” It was so great.

What will you do if Donald Trump is elected president?

Oh, god. I’m already having stomach pains, and I think it’s that! I guess I’ll watch Saturday Night Live more.

You think it’ll be good fodder?

Oh yeah, it’ll be great. I’m more scared than I was six months ago – I didn’t think he’d get this far! I guess I’d probably go to Spain more and visit my family. (laughter)

I have a question for you about Spain! What is one Spanish custom or food that you think the United States should embrace or import?

Definitely not the kissing. You have to kiss everybody on both sides of the face, and that’s exhausting. Let’s see, I was just over there, what did I love? They’re so much more laid back, and their meals are longer. We should adopt their three-hour lunches. There’s a lot of drinking involved in lunch, and then there’s coffee, and then there’s another after-lunch drink.

Would you be able to go back to work after a three-drink lunch? It sounds great, but how do you work after that?

No! That’s true, that’s probably just me on vacation in Spain, so nevermind. I guess I’d say more eating and better food. They eat so well!

That’s a really good one! Okay, two more questions. If you could go back in time and see one concert, what would you pick and why?

Ugh! This makes me think of this Saturday. This Saturday I’m going to Springsteen!

So you are going back in time!

I’m so excited, I’ve never been to a Springsteen concert. Honestly, I wish I would’ve gone to a Springsteen concert like twenty years ago. I know he’s gonna be amazing on Saturday, but he’s older, and I would love to be jumping around right in front of him when he was younger. (laughter)

Are you expecting a three- or four-hour show? Are his shows still crazy long?

Yes, I know someone who just went to his concert in Minneapolis, and it was over three hours, and then someone else who went a few days ago, and it was almost four. I’m saying Saturday’s gonna be five!

I’m gonna go ahead and say that’s too long!

(laughter) Well I’m in the seat section, so I don’t know if that’s good or bad, because I kinda wanted to be jumping around – but I don’t know if I’ll be able to do that for three hours!

What musical artist do you listen to only when you’re alone?

Oh god, there’s a ton! Anything cheesy from the eighties.

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