“Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life son.” – Dean Vernon Wormer (“Animal House”)
Comedian Peter Sers must have taken this quote to heart. He’s in great physical shape, doesn’t drink, and is far from stupid as his act is quick witted and smart from beginning to end. I caught up with him recently to find out how he got into the biz & what keeps him fitting our shirts so damn well.
Andy: When did you decide you wanted to become a Comedian? Was it a life long ambition or something that kind of fell in your lap?
Peter: I grew up watching comedians like Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, at a very early age, probably too early considering what the content they were talking about, but my parents allowed it. :). As I got older, I found myself watching Def Comedy Jam, and I was a really big fan of Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle. It wasn’t until I saw Dane Cook “Rough Around the Edges” that I envisioned myself as a comedian. I really wanted to do it, but I was so scared to try it. The idea of trying stand up was absolutely terrifying to me. I also used to watch “Showtime at the Apollo” and I was terrified I would get booed off the stage. I initially started out wanting to be a singer, and I was a professional dancer too, which led me to acting as well, so the performance aspect was already there. I danced in front of thousands of people, with no fear, but that fear of bombing was still keeping me from attempting stand up. It wasn’t until the love of my life, my girlfriend of four years, who cheated on me and broke my heart, left me alone, that I finally got the nerve to try stand up. I was at my emotional low, and extremely depressed, I even sought the help of a therapist. And then I met a girl who was a comedian and she invited me to a show she was in. I went to the show, and some of the comedians were funny, some not, some were so-so, and I thought, “f$*k it, what do I have to lose?” I can be so-so, and then just work to get better. I took it as a sign that fate introduced me to her, for me to finally tackle my life long yearning of doing stand up, and so I did. I got in contact with some people who did a weekly show at The World Famous Comedy Store. I put my act together, six minutes, and I was absolutely terrified. When I went up, I got decent laughs… I didn’t kill, but I got enough laughs to know I could work at it and get better. The high I got from being on stage and getting laughs was unlike anything I had ever experienced before – it was like heroin and I knew I had to have more (disclaimer, I’ve never done heroin, but I hear that the first taste is very similar to those first laughs, I also do not condone heroin use). Along with that amazing feeling I got from performing, being at clubs all the time, really helped me forget about the emotional pain I was going through, and it played a huge part in helping me deal with my depression. It’s kind of hard to be depressed when you’re laughing all the time. It came at the absolute right time in my life (Peter will be performing in the Belly Room of said World Famous Comedy store this Saturday, Feb 28 @10:30 so check him out!)
Andy: Wow. I guess your story gives true meaning to the old saying “laughter is the best medicine!” What do you like most & least about performing? Can you give an example for each?
Peter: The thing I love the most about performing is that rush of adrenaline, or dopamine, or whatever that hormone is, I get when I’m getting laughs on stage. Especially when I’m on a big show, or when there is a large crowd, or when I’m performing in a new venue in a new city, and I have absolutely no idea if they are going to like me or not, but then they do. It’s absolutely amazing. I’ve never done any kind of drugs whatsoever, but comedy is my drug, and it is very addicting. What I hate the least about performing is the crappy bar shows we have to do to make a little money, or to work on our material. Famous comedians have the luxury of already having established careers (and they’ve all earned it) so they can use a show at the Comedy Store or Carolines to work out new material, and if it doesn’t work, they still have a career. But at the level I’m at, I’m constantly trying to win over fans, and grow my fan base, so I can’t just phone it in and test stuff out all the time, because for some people, they are judging my comedy on this performance. Also, bar shows, are generally where hecklers are, or just people talking in the background, which makes it really hard to perform. As comedians, those environments help us to develop that think skin we need, and gives us the muscles we need to think on our feet, and ad lib, etc, but it’s never fun for us. I try to make the best out of every situation, and take it as a learning experience, but it’s not the best environment for comedy, or to get better.
Andy: All the great one’s started out like this, right? You’re next! Do you see this as a stepping stone into acting/TV/Movies, etc?
Peter: I started acting in college, and I knew it was something I wanted to do, so I’ve been an actor, much longer than I’ve been a comedian. I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked on a few pretty cool projects. Now that I’m a comedian though, I can say it has really helped my acting, because now I go into audition rooms completely fearless. I don’t always book the jobs, but comedy has given me the courage to walk into any room unafraid. I also think my acting background, and dance background, helped my comedy. My act is very high energy, I’m not just a talking head, standing still, in front of a microphone. I’m walking around the stage, I’m jumping, I’m painting pictures with my hands, I’m very much a performer, and I owe that to my dance and acting training. I’m hoping that comedy will open more doors for my acting career. I see so many comedians in movies now, and getting their own tv shows, and it really excites me about what the future has in store.
Andy: All that moving around on stage obviously keeps you in good physical shape; we can tell your in “Cross-Fit” condition. Do you find it’s important to be in good shape to handle the rigors of being a Comedian?
Peter: First off, I hate Cross Fit (no joke there), but I have always been very passionate about fitness. I played baseball my entire life, through college, and even post college. Working out and eating right are very important to me. I don’t want to be one of those fat comics, who’s miserable and unhealthy and tired all the time. I take pride in not having the traditional “comedian body.” Being fit and active helps me deal with many of the rigors of being a comic. For one, the discipline of working out helps when dealing with some of the adversity we have to go through as comedians. Also, in comedy, there are usually long road trips, because it’s cheaper to drive. If I weren’t in good shape, those trips would be much harder to deal with. Being in comedy clubs, and bars makes us also be surrounded by alcohol and bad food, but because I workout and eat well, it gives me the will power to pass on all that stuff. I actually enjoy getting to a city I’m going to perform in, and going to their local gym and getting a great workout in before a show. It de-stresses me, and rejuvenates my energy levels. Every comedian has their road rituals. Mine includes working out. Plus, I feel like being healthy will keep me from burning out, which can happen with the long nights we have, and also prolong my career.
Andy: I don’t have a comedy act but I best get my fat arse to the gym! Thanks for the inspiration.. We love that you LOVE Retro Brand gear. How’d you find us, and what is that you love about our brand?
Peter: I’ve always been a t shirt and jeans guy. That’s kind of been my go to, a cool form fitting t shirt, a nice pair of jeans, and some cool sneakers, and finding ways to make that stylish. As a comedian, I couldn’t help but notice so many other comics dressing like slobs, or then there are the ones who wear complete suits, which I appreciate, but it’s simply not me. I wanted to find a brand I could identify with, that would represent my style and personality, and then I found a Retro Brand shirt at Moonlight Graham in Century City. It had a vintage look, with a great fit, the fabric felt great, and I loved the throwback sports team shirts. Being from LA, I take pride in being a native, and I’m always looking for ways to represent my city, especially when I’m touring. Retro Brand had so many shirts that helped me show off my hard earned body a little, helped me rep my beloved city, and helped me showcase my style.
You showcase it well Mr. Sers and thanks for your time today.