On Friday, the comedians of Pittsburgh had a roast of Shannon Norman and we all said some horrifically mean things about each other. We all do this for the same reason though: we genuinely care for one another. We all hide behind this thin patina of cruelty because it’s easier (and funnier) than saying the truth.
James J. Hamilton – James is without a doubt one of the most clever comedians I’ve seen. He consistently generates smart material that inspires me to be a better writer. Despite being soft-spoken, he is fearless. I’ve seen him go on stage in front of a crowd full of high-school football coaches and do a 7 minute chunk on the Book of Genesis.
Andy Picarro – On the surface, Andy exudes the kind of carefree attitude that we all wish we had. Go with the flow. If you watch Andy’s act though, you can tell that underneath the comedic level of apathy is someone who cares deeply about comedy. High-quality cannot come without effort. The impressive part is that Andy makes it look easy.
Tim Ross – I think Tim is trying to drag the comedians like myself into the current century. He is a paragon of what makes the millennial generation great: he uses social media to his advantage and he is incredibly inclusive and supportive. Tim is the only person exploring different comedy outlets like Reddit with any sort of success and the best part is, he’s willing to act as a sherpa to fuddy-duddies like me.
Derek Minto – In Pokemon terms, they say that the final form of a comedian is when you can stop telling jokes and instead tell stories. There’s no one better at telling a funny story than Derek Minto. Every time I write a new story I’d like to do on stage, I’m always comparing it to what Derek Minto might have done with the same material. With that as my standard, I don’t have a lot of stories that make it to the final cut.
Jesse Irvin – I think Jesse might secretly be the most confident person on the Pittsburgh comedy scene. I don’t mean that outward, arrogant confidence. I mean the true deep confidence in yourself that lets you welcome challenges. He has organized several comedy tours, plays in a successful band, and apparently can just quit his day-job whenever he wants. It takes a steadiness in your soul to do everything he does.
Alex Stypula – Jerry Seinfeld once said that he was always attracted to comedians that did the things he couldn’t do. That is a great summation of my view on Alex Stypula. Deep down, when I see Alex perform, I wish I could do exactly that. He is an unforgettable act.
John Evans – I remember the first time I saw John Evans on stage after he returned to Pittsburgh. I thought to myself, “Where has this guy been?” He immediately upgraded the talent level in Pittsburgh with his return. He couldn’t make the roast because he actually had to travel to work at a real comedy club. One of the only people here actually doing the work.
John Dick Winters – I truly look at John Winters like some type of bizzaro version of me. The clothes, the music, the general demeanor point opposite from me. But underneath the superficiality of that, I think there’s a kinship. Maybe it’s one sided, but that doesn’t bother me.
Shannon Norman – Shannon is by far the quickest wit on the comedy scene. Not only does he have a sharp mind, he has the ability to translate that to the stage. I’ve seen Shannon kill on multiple occasions and I don’t think I’ve seen him ever repeat a set. That should tell you something about him. He is a prolific comedy mind and the importance he places on originality makes him on of my favorites.