One way or another, Earl David Reed was destined to give people big, bright smiles. In between semesters at Syracuse University, the former dental student decided to get up on stage at The Treehouse Comedy Club in Connecticut and found he had a natural gift for getting laughs.
Earl David Reed’s stand-up has been called “a relentless rollercoaster ride of improv and comedy” by the Associated Press and his career could be compared to a rollercoaster, too. Flying out of the gate, Reed quickly made a name for himself on the stand-up circuit. He started out doing gigs with comics who are now household names, like Kevin James and Ray Romano; he’s opened for comedy legends like the late Sam Kinison, Tim Allen and Jeff Foxworthy; he’s appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and other late night programs; and he’s auditioned for major Hollywood movies. And then he got burned out. He got a job in radio, and settled into a role as a co-host of 105.7 The X’s morning show, The People’s Morning Show, which he has been doing for 10 years. Reed’s quick wit and gift of gab bring lots of laughs to The People’s Morning Show and he’s constantly on stage at local comedy clubs. But recently he’s been looking for a little more. He has his sights set on a residency in Las Vegas and a reality show.
Reed is set to do a live taping his stand-up show “The Secret of My Unsuccess” at the Whitaker Center on February 20 and continues to sharpen his material at local comedy clubs. He’s recently performed stand-up dates in Las Vegas and wrapped up taping on a reality show, which is being shopped around to various networks. It looks like Reed’s career is beginning to make the climb up to another peak and, like any good rollercoaster, include some lasting thrills and leave people with big smiles.
We caught up with Reed one afternoon last month as the comedian’s day was winding down – he’s up at 3 a.m. to get ready for the morning show, after all. We talked about his “unsuccess,” the local comedy scene, his reality show and his connection to the 1997 hit movie Men In Black – but you’ll have to see his show to hear that story.
Mike Andrelczyk: You’re a professional comedian getting paid to make people laugh. Do you actually consider yourself unsuccessful?
Earl David Reed: The Associated Press has this quote on my show, “He may not be famous, but he’s hilarious.” You may not know me if you hear my name, but if you go see me you’ll go, “That guy was good.” That’s the difference between myself and, maybe, other comedians that you know. People will show up just because they know a certain guy. But for me it’s different; I gotta win the crowd every night, and the next time I go back, I gotta earn the crowd again. You’re only as good as your last show.
MA: So you found some success early but then you got burned out on stand-up?
EDR: It was happening really quickly and at that point I was like “I’m not sure I want to do this.” I didn’t realize what it actually takes to do it. There’s an actual ability and a talent to it. Not to sound pretentious or anything, but I didn’t realize that I had, for lack of a better term, a gift.
MA: The People’s Morning Show is four hours every day. How do you keep up the energy?
EDR: The cool thing is I work with two other people – Nipsey and Jen Shade – and they are experienced. I accessorize what they bring to it – and they bring years of experience and they’re good at what they do. It’s not like they’re radio people that come up with a premise and then wait to be saved from the funny person. In our show the humorous part can come from any of us.
MA: You just wrapped up shooting your reality show. Was it strange to have a crew follow you around?
EDR: That was kind of weird. But it’s not every day because everybody’s life is not as exciting as you would like it to be. I mean, at some point, Tom Brady is just sitting at home staring out the window. At some point you’re sitting doing nothing. But there are some days where it’s like, “He’s performing somewhere,” or “He’s taking the boat out today, let’s go out and see what happens.” Or like I’m out here in Lewisberry and I had a problem that I’d never encountered before – because I’d always lived in a city or more suburban area – but I had a problem where deer were eating trees. So I had to deal with that. It’s slightly a “guy-out-of-water” sort of thing.
MA: What do you think of the local comedy scene?
EDR: I think the local comedy scene is really good. What I like to do is take some local guys and put them on the show. It doesn’t matter if you get on the stage in New York or Palmyra. People are people. If you get on the stage in front of 300 people in Palmyra that’s fine. If you get on stage in front of four people in a club in New York City at 2 a.m. what’s the payoff? I try to give people that opportunity.
MA: You dropped a lot of weight and now you’re a bodybuilder. What do you have to tell people who might be making that New Year’s resolution to finally get in shape?
EDR: Next time don’t make it around New Year’s. Seriously. Make it around the middle of September. Because if you can get through the holidays then it’s easy from that point. You can promise yourself everything come New Year’s Eve.
Finally….Earl David Reed rants for 1 minute and 3 seconds
“It’s 2015. You can’t shock people anymore. Bill Cosby is in a mess for molesting women and Jared from Subway just got sentenced to prison. There’s no more shock left. Like the other day, a guy says ‘I can’t believe you’re eating at Subway,’ I’m like ‘Dude, Jared didn’t touch the food.’ You can’t shock people anymore. It’s like when people talk about obscenity. Obscene to me isn’t swearing. It’s when you get graphic. Like Seinfeld says, you can do a joke about Jews, but it better be funny as hell. Like the other day I was telling a white guy who was doing a joke with the n-word in it, ‘Your joke has to be funnier for you to get away with that. Take it from me. I’m black. I’m trying to tell you that someone might step up and punch you in the face and it might not be a black guy. If you ever want to get edgy ethnically just give me a call.’ Everyone should have at least one black person to bounce something off of before they do something stupid.”
Earl David Reed performs three shows at Stitches Comedy Club in Lancaster on December 4-5. Visit stitchescomedy.com to purchase tickets.