Comedy Wisdom from a Master
Right before the pandemic we did an interview with comedy polymath Lue Deck. Oh, where do I even begin with Lue’s credits. Let’s save some time. Who he is and what he’s done is revealed in the follow up interview below. I promise you, once you read it, if you don’t already want to meet this great comedian, see this great comedian, book this great comedian, then let’s just say I’d be very very surprised. So, let’s get into this.
The 2022 Hollywood Dog Interview with the great Lue Deck:
SAG: Great to see you, Lue!
DECK: Always great to see you, Sag!
SAG: Great to be seen. Okay. Looking at my notes…. Let’s start from the beginning. Tell us about your first time on the comedy stage.
DECK: I was producing a public access show at the University of Texas when the host panicked and backed out. My customer asked me to fill in and be very sarcastic. The resulting show got a lot of views and I was invited to audition as host for group doing shows all through the state. Pandora’s Traveling Troubadours did 30 shows that summer with me doing 10 min sets to open.
SAG: What is your philosophy in terms of making people laugh?
DECK: No, I quit law school to become a stand-up…and my mom was pissed for decades. But, it was a choice that’s made me happy for my whole life.
SAG: Being an experienced veteran comedian, how is it different performing today?
DECK: Growing up, I thought my super power was making people laugh. After I grew up, I realized my real super power was making people happy. I chose to be a stand-up, I say funny things for a living. I don’t sing. dance or do impressions, I say things. Within that parameter, I will do anything I can to provoke laughter.
SAG: How do you get younger audiences to relate to you?
DECK: Recently, there’s been a trend to look grungy onstage, I reject that. There’s also a trend to use the eff word too much, or be graphically distinct about body parts, these trends are not for me. Of course crowds are younger than me, so using their idiomatic phrases helps to connect. Younger crowds seem to ponder my jokes longer, but mostly I’ve gotten a nice, respectful response that seems to be led by the women.
SAG: How do you feel about social media being the dominant force in creating a comedian’s heat?
DECK: Social media still seems MUCH less than interpersonal feelings amongst job seekers, agent, managers, and show runners. I do the media scene guided by a smart tech guy, and it has done wonders. But, I still get more jobs from my showbiz network. However, my book has brought me students from all over the world, due to social media. I think you have to try hard in both.
SAG: How did your collaboration with William Knodelseder on “I’m Dying Up Here” come about?
DECK: Knoedelseder said he searched for me and found my article on thecheers.org “The saga of Herk & Jerk!” about Jimmy & me thru the strike. Then, The Store gave him my #. He came to my apt for 2 interviews & asked for pics. AS CS archivist, I gave him all he wanted and my collection was used for the majority of pics. He’s a good guy. I asked why he chose me, he replied that half of the interviews he’d already done…they said:” Lue was there, ask him. AFTER PUBLISHING, Bill TOLD ME HE’D HAVE BEEN WRONG, NOT TO USE THE DOORMAN VIEWPOINT.
SAG: Tell us about your experience of working on Showtime’s History of The Comedy Store.
DECK: I was co-producing Comedy Store Tonight starring Argus Hamilton for three months when Binder smacked me on the back saying, “You are my favorite doorman story!” I want you on camera!” I also ventured my archive stuff, and ended up in two episodes of the five, and the used numerous still pics & and two of my videos. Not bad for a doorman, eh?
SAG: As a short-term former doorman myself? Not bad. Okay. Explain Endorphin Man.
DECK: E-man started as a time killing bit, you know …Headliner Helper! Then,as an essay: “How to GET HAPPY!” then, as a pay it forward feed the homeless thing, then, as a neurobiology joke bit, then, as a depression therapy, now a screenplay. I claim to have a (nonexistent) device that channels one’s euro-transmitters to make you feel happy! Now, Chinese spies, the FBI & two guys from Detroit named vinny are chasing me to get the secret! That’s not all, but…..
SAG: How many countries have you done comedy in and what (aside from America) country is your favorite and why?
DECK: Canada, US, Mexico, Bahamas, Cuba, Jamaica, Virgin Isl, Barbados, Venezuela, Aruba, Samoa,Guam, Okinawa, Japan, Philippines, Korea s, Thailand, Haiti, Dom Rep,Vietnam, Diego Garcia, Oman. some more…. Philippines was the best for both me & my family. It was cuz I discovered my long lost grandfather’s grave from WW ll Major Fred A. HOUSTON.
SAG: Wow! Is there a country you haven’t performed in?
SAG: Well, as you know I am very well connected over there.
DECK: So, you’ve told me about a million times.
SAG: Have I? I don’t remember…. Anyway, if you ever find yourself over there, please let me know and I’ll hook you up with the best clubs with the smartest audiences.
DECK: I appreciate that.
SAG: No problem. You had a very special relationship with Mitzi Shore. The founder of The Comedy Store. Tell us more.
DECK: Forty years later, I can see what she meant 100% better! She was right about almost everything… except in choosing men. The night club biz & casting was mostly very good. I never slept with her, although she kept asking and teasing me until the day I left. She always wanted me as a director, but I wanted to stand-up. She kept telling me to be the me I was with her…onstage. She was right about that to.She’s still my biggest hero. 3 comics & Mitzi told me that at Ollie Joe’s Memorial, Mitzi kept telling everyone: “Lue Deck should be here!” I was in Barbados.
SAG: Standup Decoded. Tell us about that book.
DECK: Through history, stand -up has been an ORAL tradition, now, I hope we can bring it to the digital world so future funny people will have a place to learn how to be funnier. My book is meant to be a “best practices” list for beginners & intermediate stand-up, set against essays of my career to give reference. A lesson is included after each essay. Having the courage to write & publish it, surprised me. So,…next book on the way. “It ALL starts with a smile!”
SAG: Guess that’s where Jack Graiman fell short. How does performing standup at your age and experience differ from when you were just starting out?
DECK: I used to allow myself to get fidgety to store energy before as set. Theses days, doing far less shows, I find my self storing “calmness” before a set. I make better choices onstage now. I also remind myself not to blame the crowd for age stuff. I don’t care about age, I want them all to laugh. If they don’t, its my fault. I didn’t understand any of that when I started out. It was hit or miss. Now, there are methods to improve your performances.
SAG: What’s the one piece of advice you’d give any new young comic just starting out?
DECK: Be brave, be LOUD, Be yourself! Dress nice, tell TV clean jokes until you are a working middle act, network, be the guy they wanna work with, ALWAYS GET OFF on time, Be thankful you’ve learned this.
SAG: Do you think standup comedy can survive the current storm of Cancel Culture?
DECK: Stand-up will adapt, continue, and thrive. It’s cyclic… new rules every 7 years. I don’t encounter much of that as I avoid certain references. Good comics can dodge the bullets.
I guess Lue is right. Ya know?
As a comic veteran myself of over 40 plus years, Lue Deck makes sense. He’s been down that road and back. And he is back. Still performing comedy, still out there. And, as he likes to say of himself: “I’m still a work in progress… As a man, and as a comic.”
And what a great example of each he is.
For The Hollywood Dog. Always wagging the world. I’m Steven Alan Green and will continue to be.
Keep laughing, folks.