Austin Exit Interview: Danny Palumbo

Moontower alum Danny Palumbo moved to Austin in 2011 to pursue stand-up comedy. A few short weeks ago, he said goodbye. A comedian’s comedian, Palumbo made his mark on the scene, hosting innumerable shows in town, bringing us the satirical restaurant sites Lil’ Buco and Abbrev’s and winning the Funniest Person in Austin contest in 2015. After gaining traction on the festival circuit, the comic decided it was time to move on. I caught up with Danny days after he appeared at the prestigious New Faces showcase at the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal.

What comedians or comedies did you watch growing up?

Robin Hood: Men In Tights and The Naked Gun were the two movies that were on all the time when I was 10. We had one of those illegal cable boxes, so all the slap-stick comedies of the 90’s were on. Leslie Nielsen really resonated with me as a kid. I still very much enjoy Dracula: Dead and Loving It. I didn’t really start watching stand-up until I was about 15, but Todd Barry’s first half hour really stood out to me. My junior year of high school I was washing dishes five nights a week, so I would get off work and be home right when Conan started at 12:30. All of those things had an impact for sure.

When did you first step on stage?

Sometime in June, 2009, at the Smiling Moose in Pittsburgh. I was almost 24. I remember thinking that was a little late to get started in comedy, so, I just dove in and committed to it almost instantly.

What’s the best comedy advice you’ve received?

I got some great advice at JFL from Ahmed Bharoocha, who was saying he wished he enjoyed his festival more when he was a New Face. He was saying, basically, “I thought I did terrible. I wouldn’t talk to anybody. I was in my head the whole time. I wish I enjoyed it more, because everything is fine now.” He’s been doing great since then, and was invited back to perform at the fest four years later and is just the nicest, funniest dude. I think the best advice usually falls along the lines of, “None of this actually matters.” It really doesn’t. Just enjoy yourself as much as possible.

What’s the best thing about the comedy scene in Austin and/or what will you miss most about being here?

Oh, man. Probably just hanging out. Yeah, I’m going to miss hanging out. The people in Austin rule. I miss the rapport with all of my friends, for sure. My last year in Austin, I felt like a senior in high school. There was a lot of freedom. I knew everybody super well, I had stature in the scene, getting booked like crazy. I was doing things like changing the sign at Cap City to read, “Brian Gaarbage” and nobody cared. I was drunk in gym shorts a lot. There was a comfortability there towards the end that was a little deceiving. Like, I enjoyed being a senior, but I had to graduate eventually.

How did you find out you were accepted into JFL Montreal’s New Faces?

I was just taking a walk outside when I got a conference call from the JFL people. I found out two days before I left Austin which was nice. Buzzer beater.

What were some highlights from the festival?

I watched Andy Kindler‘s Alternative Show twice. It’s the longest running show at JFL, I think. Actually, I know so because he said up top, “This is the longest running show at JFL…timewise. Timewise.” Martha Kelly just killed it at his show. That was so fun to watch. I found out she was in the new Spiderman movie and was like, of course we’ve been hanging out for the last two days you didn’t mention that. Also, just hanging out with the other New Faces is a blast. There’s so much pressure to talk to industry and get signed, and yeah, that’s a goal while you’re there, but it’s fun just to meet other comics and mess around.

What’s something you haven’t achieved/haven’t gotten the opportunity to do in comedy that you’d like to do?

I want to win America’s Got Talent, and by win, I mean bring the show and everybody involved to their knees. I do comedy primarily for revenge now, which is enjoyable. I’ve got all of these maps and article clippings hung up in my parents’ game room. There’s a master plan in place to make everybody pay, but, the project is in it’s infancy. After that, I want to work towards a late night set, a Comedy Central half hour, all the stuff comics want.

What’s next for you?

Road doggin’ it! I’ll be in Philly, New York, DC over the coming weeks. I cringe at calling anything a tour, but Mac Blake and Aaron Brooks and I are going on a southern comedy road trip in September. We’re going to finish up in Austin, the three of us headlining a few shows in town, so that’ll be fun. Then in the Fall I’ll be in either New York or Los Angeles.

mm John Merriman

John Merriman has worked with the Moontower festival since it’s inception in 2012. He is the co-host of the festival’s long-running interview series “Inside Joke” where he has interviewed luminaries including Steven Wright, Maria Bamford and Patton Oswalt. Before Moontower, he spent five years at the Austin Film Fesival as a film programmer where he helped launch the Comedy Vanguard program and the Funniest Filmmaker in Austin series. He has called Austin his home since 1996.

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