American comic to perform at Absolute Comedy Club

Sam Demaris continues to carve out a career as a comedian

Sam Demaris will perform at Absolute Comedy from Feb. 12-15.
Credit: 
Screenshot from Sam Demaris' YouTube.

This May will mark 19 years since Sam Demaris was waiting tables at an Olive Garden in his hometown of Houston, Texas before he left to pursue comedy full-time. He’s been performing stand-up ever since.

Demaris, now based in Los Angeles, will be headlining at the Absolute Comedy Club here in Kingston from Feb. 12 to 15.  He recently spoke to The Journal about his journey in professional comedy over the years in advance of his local shows.

“I saw an ad in the paper […] that said, ‘If you think you’re funny, come to our comedy club,’ and I was just stupid enough to do that,” Demaris said in an interview.

Performing onstage for the first time wasn’t easy, but he wanted to be a comic, so he kept going back.

“The first time, I didn’t even go on,” he said. “Then, eventually, I went out there and did terribly. To this day I can’t tell you why I went back but I did. 19 years later, it turned out to be a good decision.”

For a few years, Demaris was performing stand-up on the side while still working as a waiter at Olive Garden. He said that as he continued to book more gigs, his job as a waiter became difficult to manage.

“It was 2005 when I got fired,” Demaris said. “I had been taking a lot of days off to go do comedy, and then I got fired because I overslept from being up so late […] the night before.”

Getting fired from the Olive Garden turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Demaris. He says it was the final push that got him to turn his fledgling comedy gigs in Houston into something he could pursue full-time.

“I started getting more gigs, and that’s when I finally looked up and thought, I don’t even need to get another job. I think I can just keep doing this. A lot of comics ask me, when do you know when it’s time to quit and start doing comedy full-time? I didn’t decide that. My career decided it for me.”

Demaris said that, working in the comedy business for as long as he has, he’s experienced all the major highs and lows when it comes to good gigs and bad gigs.

“There was one that happened at Instant Comedy in Toronto two years ago, where the room was just insane. At some point […] I was thinking, hey guys, I’m not as funny as you’re giving me credit for, but I’ll take it. It was great.”

According to Demaris, despite his success, he still gets nervous before a set.

“Every time is different,” he said. “If you’re doing two shows on a Friday, just because you walked out and did a great job, as soon as that [first] show is over, they all leave and now there’s 200 more people that you haven’t talked to before.”

But even through the hard times, Demaris has continued to do what he loves.

He also spoke about whether he thinks any subjects should be off limits to comedians.

“I think that depends on the comic usually […] If that goes with your act and that’s what you do and it feels right, then go right ahead and do it,” he said. “It also depends on the setting. If you go to a comedy club and you came to see me, it’s a little bit different than when your company decided to host their party and they wanted a comedian.”

As with good shows and bad shows, the comic doesn’t always know the audience’s expectations, and Demaris thinks it’s a mistake for comedians to try to assume what they’ll want to hear.

“I did [a show] overseas for the military in Africa that went really bad because I thought we had to be completely clean and we didn’t so it was for a bunch of soldiers who wanted me to be dirty.”

Demaris considers stand-up comedy as its own distinct art form, comparing what he does to the role of theatre actors.

“With them, somebody else wrote that line, a director told them where to stand […] and even if they’re the star of the show, there’s somebody else on the stage with them to pick up the slack if they ever drop the ball,” Demaris said. “If I slip and fall and I flub a line, there is nobody. I’m out there naked by myself.”

After nearly 19 years, Demaris may still be working to hone his craft, but he retains the same willpower that got him started in comedy in the first place.

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