You’ve no doubt heard that laughter is the best medicine. And though I wouldn’t bank on laughter physically curing your ailments (please, go see a doctor!), it’s vital to getting us through the hard times and making the good times even sweeter. Comedian Jon Fisch is certainly of that philosophy. Though many comics tend to lean into more vulgar and controversial subject-matter these days (standup comedy has a tradition of it), Fisch has made a name for himself over the past two decades doing comedy about the more quotidian—dating as a single forty-something or navigating the idiosyncrasies (and absurdities) of living in New York City—and it’s worked well for him. The NYC-based comic has appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, as well as its predecessor, the Late Show with David Letterman, in the pages of Maxim magazine and as the host of the popular comedy podcast series, In the Tank.
On Friday, October 26, Fisch will headline the first-ever Comedy Night at the Park Theater in Glens Falls, along with Caitlin Peluffo and Jim Felter. saratoga living interviewed Fisch about his history of doing standup in the Capital Region, and why he avoids political humor altogether.
You’ve done standup in the Capital Region before. Is it a good area for comedy?
I love Glens Falls. I was there many years ago. I used to do a show—I forget where—but it was upstairs at a restaurant, a Thursday and Friday gig. I did that a couple of times, including once with my good friend Andy Pitz. And I’ve been up to Lake George the past few summers for Americade. It’s like a motorcycle conference that somehow I’ve performed at a couple of times. If you’ve seen my act, it doesn’t scream motorcycle conference. [Laughs] But I’ve always had pretty good experiences in the Albany area. And Saratoga Springs is such a great city to hang out in. I love it.
Because of the country’s political climate right now, I’ve heard some comedians say it’s a difficult time to do comedy. What do you think of that?
I will say this: I’ve been doing comedy for 20 years, and I’ve never, in that time, had so many requests to just stay away from politics. I’ve had people say, “Don’t do sex, don’t do religion,” but I’ve never had so many [people] ask me to just stay away from politics. It’s extremely touchy right now, and you can feel it, too, when you’re talking about it. But I perform every night, and, of course, tons of things come up, but I do try to stay away from it, because I can’t get a real gauge on whether anyone thinks it’s really funny or not. You’re either preaching to the choir, or you’re just immediately turning somebody off.
Politics aside, do you think audiences are more sensitive these days in general?
No, I feel like audiences have been really good lately, other than those specific areas. I feel like people really do need to laugh and get away from things. Even the other night, I was doing a show, and a few people came up to me afterwards and said, “Oh, I really needed that.” So when times are tougher, people really do just want to escape and get a few laughs in. There’s nothing like live comedy to have that guttural response of laughter. So hopefully, that’s what I can bring to people.
How did you get started in standup? I imagine your parents weren’t like, “You should be a standup comedian.”
[Laughs] No, they definitely didn’t say that. Although my brother and my father and I all have a similar sense of humor, and we really connect through humor. I actually ended up graduating from college with a degree in psychology, and was working in that field, inside hospitals in Boston, but I was always interested in [comedy]. So I took a workshop in Boston with Rick Jenkins at Brookline’s continuing education center, and I got hooked. I started doing it while I was working and then eventually tried to give it a real go. I moved to New York, and it’s been the best thing I ever did.
What got you hooked? People’s laughter?
Yeah! I always loved that, but there was always the writing as well. I wasn’t like a class clown or anything. I was funny, but I just liked coming up with a good line. Just the way you can have your life happening, write about it and then bring it to a group of people and have them connect with what you’re saying…there’s no greater feeling to me.
So what do you have coming up next?
I’ve got a podcast coming back this month called Spiraling Up that I’m very excited about. And that’s where I can get a little more into heavier subjects without the pressure of making every line laugh. So I’m excited to get back to that. I talk to comedians, so inevitably, it will be funny, but the subject-matter is about how people get out of life struggles and deal with their daily problems.