Comedians, by and large, have different standards when it comes to figuring out what’s appropriate or not to bring up in front of a large group of strangers.
That old adage about avoiding certain sensitive subject matter around civil company, like politics and religion, is probably not something most stand-ups ascribe to. In fact, according to Fresno funny man Dino Archie, there are only really two golden rules in comedy that matter.
“As a comic you can’t steal people’s jokes, that’s the No. 1 rule, and you should always try to be funny and original, that’s the only other rule. Some guy could talk about race and make it hilarious and then another guy could just mention the word, and just the way he said it is offensive. It’s about context, but more than that it’s about being funny,” he said. “It’s almost like a video game to us; the more edgy and taboo the word, if you can finesse it and make it funny, then you’re doing some Chris Rock-type stuff.”
Archie has been busting guts onstage for the last five years, a career choice that grew out of riffing on his older brothers growing up and his grandfather’s natural skills as an orator.
“My grandfather is a preacher, so he would always perform and put on a real good show, so it’s in my blood a little bit,” said Archie.
Influenced by stand-up greats like Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock and Richard Pryor, Archie is looking to carve out his own place in the comedy world, employing a conversational tone that tends to put audiences at ease.
“My style is more of a one-sided conversation with punch lines,” said Archie. “If I’m having a conversation with you at the bar and telling you a story, I’m going to try and talk like that onstage.”
Following in the footsteps of his stand-up heroes, black comics who weren’t afraid to tackle the issue of race in America and often did so with an unrivalled and incisive wit, Archie doesn’t feel the need to address race in his set the same way as his comedic forebears did.
“It’s a good time in comedy now as a black artist because you don’t really have to talk about race as much. My set is maybe three or four minutes, a few quips about it, but right now it’s actually more fun for a white comic to talk about it. To hear Bill Burr talking about white guilt, that bit is hilarious, and to hear Louis C.K. saying nigger in a funny way, there’s more action there,” he said. “It’s a relief because you get to talk about whatever you want right now as a black comic, and if you have to say some stuff referring to your race, then make it count. It’s not gonna be 30 minutes of me being a black guy onstage.”
Archie said when he first started performing to Canadian audiences, a good portion of his bit was about “being a new black guy in the city,” but since then his act has evolved, becoming “less about race and more about me turning 30, being a poor comic and trying to become a man.”
The Fresno comic has spent the last three months in Vancouver honing his set, recently performing as a headliner at one of the city’s hottest stand-up spots, The Comedy Mix.
With its acclaimed annual comedy festival, a number of popular podcasts featuring the city’s funniest people and no shortage of available venues for aspiring stand-ups to perform on any given night, Vancouver is the perfect place for emerging comics like Archie, who calls L.A. home, to “work off the grid,” as he put it.
“This city has some of the best comedy fans, they showed me so much love. I go into pubs and people come up to me and say some slogan of mine … so I get to develop that material here and it’s definitely a great city for it,” he said.
Archie just recently started allowing audiences to record and post his performances online, because he realized it’s one of several ways to effectively increase his exposure to new fans.
“It’s good because there’s not just one pipeline to success, financially or just getting your name out there, there are podcasts and tweeting and getting your own outlet to get content up,” he said. “You don’t have to wait to get put on Leno or Ferguson anymore.”
Dino Archie headlines a jam-packed night of stand-up at Maxx Fish’s Comedy Rehab next Thursday (March 28), featuring Canadian funny guys Kyle Jones and Jesse Carroll.
Tickets are $10 at the door, or $5 in advance at Hempire and Maxx Fish. Doors open at 8 p.m.
Check out Archie’s website at www.dinoarchie.com or follow him on Twitter @dinoarchie.