Steve Soelberg is the comedy darling of Salt Lake City.
10 out every 9 local comedians will say that they wish they could be as funny as Steve.
Steve specializes in clean, clever down to earth observational humor that resonates with any crowd.
You may have seen Steve headline his own shows at Wiseguys, showcase on shows throughout the valley, testing new material at Open Mics or hosting long distance races all over the country.
I have had a chance to discuss a lot about comedy with him and he has given me some great advice. He has been a comedy mentor for me.
Salt Lake, enjoy the funny! Here’s Steve Soelberg!
Grow-up still wondering what I’m gonna be, is happy
You are relatively small in stature. Who are some other small people that inspire you?
Um sure, Michael J. Fox, Rudy Ruettiger- the actor not the real one, Jon Stewart, Robert Downy Jr., Kevin Hart and Mark Wahlberg.
Can you Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon yourself? Go!
I worked with Rob Schneider at Wiseguys who was in The Beverly Hillbillies (1993) with Mickey Jones who was in Pyrates (1991) with Kevin Bacon. Wow, Steve… that was quick!
What got you started in stand up comedy?
There is 8 different ways for me to answer this question, because it was never really just one thing for me, it was a serendipitous combination of events combined with meeting people that lead me down the stand-up comedy path. I decided to do my first open mic after telling jokes at a poetry night and a company party. I then met Ryan Hamilton a few days before my first open mic while I was out inviting friends to come see me at the open mic. They introduced me to Ryan and told me he was a full time working comedian. Ryan talked with me for a while about comedy and introduced me the the local comedy club owner after seeing me at my first open mic.
Who are your biggest inspirations in comedy?
Well I’ve always looked up to Ryan, but some other comedy influences for me are Bill Cosby, Mike Birbiglia, Steve Martin, and my Dad.
How long have you been doing comedy?
It has been 6 years since my first open mic, I’ve had to let comedy adjust on my priorities list throughout those 6 years. I am hopeful that this year I’ll have more time to pursue working as a stand-up.
Who has been the biggest help for you in your comedy career?
Ryan Hamilton for giving me the unorthodox advice of not letting comedy consume every aspect of my life and Keith Stubbs for his advice concerning my act on stage, and for giving me time at his clubs.
Do you have a goal to do comedy full time?
Yes I want to do comedy full time, it’s a tough leap to do because for the most part it is a leap into poverty. I’ve tried to plan and establish myself financially before I take that leap. It’s not as exciting a story as the rags to riches stuff but I think there’s a lot of rags to crazy guy on the corners stories we don’t hear.
What do you plan on doing to get you to that level?
I try to write daily but I’m also working a bunch now so I can take more time off later to get on stage. I think that the combination of writing premises for jokes plus lots and lots of hours on stage will pay off- i.e. Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 Hour Rule. Also I just became the most boring comedian in the world the moment I used “i.e” in a comedy interview. Malcolm Gladwell claims in his book “Outliers” that the key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours.
You travel around the country a lot for your race announcing work… what is the coolest place you have got to perform while on the road doing that?
I had a great time in D.C. when I was there, I performed at an Irish Pub on a recommendation from Bengt Washburn. Everyone was super nice cause they love Bengt and after the show I got invited to do more shows it was great, I’m really funny when I’m in D.C.
People seem to remember the FBR joke a lot. It’s about the variety of people who come to the ER with Foreign Bodies in the Rectum. I wanted to drop it from my set a while back because I was thinking it was too much like a poop joke, but I’ve worked pretty hard to make it more about personalities and people and less about the fact that I’m talking about people shoving things in the b-hole. The change of the direction for the joke makes it funnier to me and I think it makes it that much more real and relatable for everyone.
What do you think of the local comedy scene? Good and bad?
Salt Lake City is a great place for comedy. I love it here, plenty of good stage time with plenty of creative comics creating original material. If I was to rate comedy cities in the West it would go, L.A., Portland, San Francisco, Hollywood, Denver, Seattle, Phoenix, Oakland, Ventura, Hermosa Beach, Fresno, Ely and Elko Nevada, then Salt Lake City and Wendover. We’re at least the 13th or 14th best place for stand-up in the West.
Jokes–this is probably one of the best places for stand-up I’ve been, I love it here, great audiences and great comics.
What would make it better?
I would love to reach a larger audience here than just those who typically go to the comedy club. I don’t know if this is a local problem or just live stand-up comedy problem in general but, the audiences seem to typically be the same people over and over. I think comedy central trains them to expect the same jokes and styles- racial, shock, then close on something sexual. I think that scares some people away from stand-up because they don’t like that type of humor. It’s sad because to me comedy is so much more like music which is great for the variety you can listen to. How to reach that bigger audience that doesn’t watch comedy central but would appreciate stand-up I’m not sure; unfortunately I think you have to be pretty famous to reach that group.
Who are some of your favorite new & local comics?
Guy Seidel, Jackson Banks, Wallace Fetzer, Andy Gold (lives in New York now), Mike Grover, Christian Piper, Aaron Woodall, Greg Kyte, and new Dad Spencer King.
I’m headlining the Ogden Wiseguys on September 6th and 7th
How can people connect with you?