It’s Always Funny in Salt Lake City is pleased to have Paul Sheffield interview with us this week. He is the man of the local comedy special.
We talk with him about many things including The Hatchet, preparing for a comedy recording and the next generation of headliners.
You need to go see him this weekend… you laugh could make his DVD. Seriously, your laugh could be burned forever into digital media.
Describe yourself in 10 words or less?
Original, Comedian, Sports Fan, Determined, Easy Going, Focused
On your Facebook, it says the only book you have liked is Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. Why is this work of literature your favorite? What modern day actor would you cast as the role of Brian?
That is kind of a joke. I like a couple books, but I remember that being the first book that I actually enjoyed reading. That is why I would call it my favorite. It also was a story about a boy who was in a broken home setting. That really connected with me because I was from a similar circumstance. I actually read a lot of the Hardy Boys books as well and Agatha Christie novels as well. I like mysteries. An actor….I would have to say I would want an unknown teen actor so as to keep my opinion of the casting at bay until i saw the film. Too often we judge an actors performance before we see the movie. So I would rather not know about the actor first.
What got you started in stand up comedy?
I started up when I was 24. I always wanted to try it, but through high school and most of college I never knew how to get started. I always had something going on and it was never a priority. Then one day pretty much everything in my life just blew up. I don’t want to get into all that, but I was depressed and just a wreck for about 2 months. My roommate had had a enough of it one day, and just said “you’ve spent your whole life worrying about people and things you can’t control. You need to do something that is just for you, that just makes you happy, and not worry about anyone or anything else.” It seems simple but it really resonated with me. The first thought in my mind was ‘stand up comedy’. I haven’t looked back since.
Who are your biggest inspirations in comedy?
Jerry Seinfeld is my all time favorite. He really got me into the art of stand up comedy and writing jokes. Today though would have to be Jim Gaffigan. He is a flawless comedian that I don’t even laugh at when I watch him. I just sit in awe trying to learn from what he does. Jimmy Fallon is a close second though, but its a different comedy doing late night every night. Dave Chappelle another one that really got me into doing comedy. I would sneak and watch his show late at night after my parents were asleep. He was great.
How long have you been doing comedy?
I have been doing comedy for almost 5 years now. It will be five years in February. Feels like it’s been 2 years, tops. Its crazy.
Who has been the biggest help for you in your comedy career?
I would have to say Rodney Norman. He did a lot for me. From being the first person to let me do weekend time, to helping me get connected with other comedians and owners, I owe him for sure. I was great to me.
You have recorded a few comedy albums up to this point, where are those available?
Yeah I have two audio CD’s. They are “Sheffield Had it Worse” and “Married to the Mic”. They are available digitally on iTunes and Amazon. You can also get hard copies if you would like at CDbaby.com. I have them at all of my shows as well.
How do you prepare for a taping of your stand up comedy?
They really are a lot of work. Once I feel like I have the material I want for a recording I stop writing, and begin focusing on polishing the material. I would say it takes about five performings of a bit to get it right and polished. Once its ready I get the date set and get it perfected on a show that I usually plan a couple weeks before. Like a dress rehearsal. Did that in Ogden about a week ago. Then i’m ready to go. My favorite part is once the show is over. I use recordings as a form of retirement for the material. Once it’s been recorded I do need to keep performing it. Its there forever now. I use that to force me to write new material and keep creating other jokes. It is a fun process. I’ll bring back some fan favorites at future shows and always try to accommodate requests, but my focus turns to writing and making new material. So this DVD recording is your last chance to hear a lot of this material. There are 30 minutes of material that i don’t plan on ever performing again.
What can we look forward to in this upcoming recording for your DVD “A Small HR Issue”?
A show unlike any other. this will be the longest show i’ve ever performed. I have put everything into this third album, and it shows. It will be about 70 minutes and there are two past bits that i’ve retired that I’m bringing back for this show only. There are two that audio just doesn’t do them justice, you need to see them to have the full effect of the joke. So i’m bringing back for this show only. It’s a surprise so I won’t tell you which bits they are, but my fans are going to be very happy that they are there.
Besides Wiseguys, what other places have you gotten to headline or feature at? What has been your favorite? Why?
I’ve headlined all over the west. I’ve done shows in Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming, Colorado, and Montana. My favorite would have to be Winnemuca Nevada. I just always have a great show there, and the people just have really enjoyed me. They keep requesting I come back, and I always do. It is a fun room.
What was one joke that you have told that has stood out the most?
Wow, that’s a tough question. There are a couple. Panda Express / Public Bathrooms was the first bit that got a laugh and meant a lot to me. The next one would be my H.R. Issue bit from this album. It means a lot because it is so personal. About 90% of my material is real and my life, so laughing at negative experiences in my life makes them worth the initial negativity they brought. When I performed that bit for the first time is when I knew I wanted to do a third album. From then this album has been my entire focus.
What do you think of the local comedy scene? Good and bad?
It’s a great scene. A lot of up and coming comics. It has really grown in the last 5 years. I think this town has a great set up for great local comedy. One of the betters i’ve seen for comedy. I don’t think people appreciate how good it really is here.
What would make it better?
I think that the only thing missing is unity among comics. There is a division in comedians that bothers me. I don’t view another good comedian as competition, I view them as a substitute, in that they are just as good as me, but not me. Does that make sense? You want a lot of good comics lined up for a room. I can only do a comedy room 2 times a year, max. Any more than that your material gets stale and people lose interest. You / I want a lot of good comics coming through that room when I am not performing, because the reputation of the room grows the better the quality of the comedians that perform there. I love seeing other great comics from Utah. There are a lot of great headlining comics from S.L., which sets this city apart. Aaron Woodall, Jay Whittaker, Steve Soelbeg, Guy Seidel, Jamie Maxfield, Andy Gold, Key Lewis, and Marcus are all phenomenal and keep the scene up and its reputation where it is. You’d probably have to go to Seattle or Chicago before you found a town with better local talent.
Who are some of your favorite new local comics?
There are a lot, but I would have to say that I have been really impressed with Spence Roper, Mike Grover, Christian Pieper, and Jackson Banks. They are well on their way to being headliners. They are way better then I was at there time in the comedy scene.
What shows do you have coming up?
I’ll be back in Winnemuca on November 8th, and then doing a lot of private/ corporate gigs for the holiday season. So this show on November 2nd is really the last chance to see me for the year, but i’ll be back in Salt Lake in 2014.
How can people connect with you?
I’m on Twitter @psheffcomedian, Instagram @greeksheff, and my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also facebook me.. thanks so much for having me and hope see you and everyone else at the show this weekend!
This is a great youtube of one of the bits that will be at the recording show. This bit will be retired at the show. Last time I’m doing it.
Thanks again for having me on Jordon. I appreciate it!