Bob Hansen is not only my first guest but he is also a regular at the world famous Comedy Store in La Jolla, CA and performs in their Best of San Diego showcase every Wednesday and Thursday (SEE HIM LIVE). Bob is a retired professional wrestler. Trained by WWE legend Afa “The Wild Samoan, Bob won the San Diego Pro Wrestling Heavyweight Championship in 2010. He has written and self-published three novels, and during his time at the Comedy Store Bob has performed with “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, Craig Gass, and Sammy Shore.
SAM WEST-MENSCH: How long have you been doing stand-up?
BOB HANSEN: Six years my man.
WEST-MENSCH: When/how did you first realize you’re funny? Class clown? Joker amongst your friends?
HANSEN: I was a dork in high school for the first half, acted goofy, then got invited to parties: simple solution. I was always the coolest nerd or the nerdiest cool kid.
WEST-MENSCH: Ok, so you know you’re funny. Was stand-up a natural step? Have you been involved in comedy before your first stand-up performance? Writing? Acting? Improv?
HANSEN: I was a pro wrestler trained by Afa “The Wild Samoan.” I wore spandex and rolled around with grown men in front of children. So I was used to performing live with only one take, and listening to the crowd to determine if it’s going well or not, and adjusting. The other wrestlers were 300 lbs. and I was 180. So when we did interviews, I had to be funny because I sure as well wasn’t intimidating.
WEST-MENSCH: Is this your full-time career?
HANSEN: BAHAHAHAHAH that’s f’ing hilarious. Much like wrestling, you pay a lot of dues in comedy or any performing art. If you don’t want to work for free, the 19 guys standing behind you will. We do it because we love it.
WEST-MENSCH: Do you have a goal in mind with this? Are you looking to be rich and famous? Is it more of scratching an itch other things can’t scratch? Like therapy…?
HANSEN: “Rich and famous” is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot. I’d make a terrible rich guy. I’d fix up the Cavalier and since I already bought my Planet of the Apes box-set, there’s not much I want. Most comics just want to pay the bills and rent by doing stand-up comedy. That in itself is a tremendous achievement. The “therapy” mentality is selfish, I think. Entertain them if you’re gonna bitch. They’re an audience, not a bartender.
WEST-MENSCH: How would you describe your style of comedy?
HANSEN: Very quickly. Nobody wants to hear comics talk about their act. I’m known for one-liners and zingers in San Diego, which is cool. I don’t do just one-liners the whole time but they’re definitely a part of my act that stands out. My stuff is self-deprecating, not like “I’m a huge loser” but more like “I screw up a lot.” I’m just being the best Bob I can be.
WEST-MENSCH: Do you set aside time to just write comedy or do you take notes during the day when something humorous hits you?
HANSEN: Pen and pad never leaves me, brother. I’ll sit down and write the long stuff later but the idea has to be recorded right away.
WEST-MENSCH: Patton Oswald in the movie “The Comedians of Comedy” said that he didn’t do a joke he really liked for the first 4 years of his career. Do you find yourself writing jokes based on what you think others will find funny or do you write what makes you laugh?
HANSEN: I don’t think you should ever do a joke that you don’t think is funny. The audience will know you’re full of shit, even if they don’t know they know. It goes back to wrestling. You want to lay in that elbow drop so the guy has something to sell. The people know it’s a show for the most part but they want to believe you anyway.
WEST-MENSCH: How important is timing in your act? Do you plan pauses or play around with your delivery speed?
HANSEN: Timing is everything. I have a fast style, always will, but it’s important to take a breath and let them breathe at the right time.
WEST-MENSCH: Which comedians have been inspirational to you?
HANSEN: I always wondered why comics hate this question; now I know. People are going to say you’re just being that guy. I loved Rodney as a kid. I’d watch him with my dad and laugh at the jokes whether I got them or not. I look up to the same comedians that most comics do, but what’s really inspirational to me is the modern-day comics’ work ethic. Love a good bad-ass female comic, too.