Tuesday, October 2, 2007
October's Player of the Month: Greg Kyte!
It took 30 years for October's player of the month to start pursuing his dream of performing comedy. And now he's a regular fixture on the CSz stage--starring in our Main Event and Yellow #2 shows--as well as an up-and-coming stand-up comedian who's making quite the impression on Utah audiences. We sat down with Greg Kyte for a little Q&A. Enjoy!
Do remember the first time you wanted to do comedy?
When I was in elementary school I was in a gifted program, so basically I was in a nerd factory. All the other nerd kids were hilarious and I wasn’t. I thought, I wanna be funny like the funny kids.
Unlike the majority of the population in Provo, you are not LDS. How did you end up here?
I came to Provo to go to school at BYU. I came to BYU to help foster a non-LDS Christian club on campus. Not like “Future Protestors of the Temple” club, but just a support system for non-LDS Christian students at BYU. It felt very adventurous to me: a non-Mormon going to a Mormon school. My first semester at BYU was so fun. I lived in Heritage Halls with some awesome guys. We had a blast.
You didn’t even start pursuing comedy until you were 30. How did that happen?
I hung out a lot with my friend Robert Dixon, and he brushed off a lot on me—his style of funny—and in high school I had opportunities—with him and sometimes without him—to do things in front of the student body. I did a lot of that emceeing kind of stuff. I loved being in front of people. I gave a lot of speeches to the entire student body that were very well received.
After high school I wanted to do [comedy], but sometimes is hard to overcome that inertia of where do you go, what do you do, where do you start? A couple of opportunities came up and then I got busy, and it was too easy to go, “I’m kinda’ busy,” which I think was half a cop-out because I was scared.
When I worked at Dixon Middle School I was teaching a couple of classes with low-end kids in terms of their math skills. Every week we had what I called “Motivation Mondays” where we wouldn’t do any math. Sometimes I’d have guest speakers come in, sometimes I’d show them a motivational movie, and sometimes I’d just talk to them about some kind of motivational theme. So much of it revolved around “do well in school and you can pursue your dreams.” You can do that so long before you go, “uh, I’m not doing that!” That was the breaking point for me. I was telling these kids to figure out what they really want to do and go do it, and I knew what I really wanted to do and I was just sitting on my butt.
You also do stand-up comedy. Which did you start first: stand-up or improv?
My very first standup was in July of 2002 and then I started the beginning (ComedySportz) workshops in September of 2002.
What are the differences between stand-up and improv?
Stand-up is rehearsed. There’s a routine. With my routine I’m able to switch it around, switch parts and change wording. It’s not so much memorized word for word, but it’s definitely planned out. There are parts where I know I have to say things the right way to consistently get the laugh.
I think stand-up comedy is like improv that sticks. Something you said that was funny to somebody else or some kind of premise that you just started thinking about and your brain makes the connection and it ends up working.
In Improv you’re making connections and it’s the spontaneous funny. In improv there’s something so spontaneous and organic and natural. It’s interesting because it comes full circle: the way to keep my stand-up funny is to relate it to the audience, the situation—somehow tie things in with the here and now. [Improv and stand-up] definitely feed off each other although they’re very different creatures.
How long were you in the workshops until you started performing with CSz?
Three years. Mike Bailey started his workshops after me but started playing long before me. But he wouldn’t leave the club. Any time the doors were open he’d be there. As much as I wanted to do that, I had a daughter born prematurely so I took six months where I didn’t do anything with CSz.
What’s your best advice for anyone interested in doing comedy?
If you want to do something, start pursuing it.