SPOTLIGHT ON: C.J. TOLEDANO
This is the first of many interviews we’ll be doing on upcoming talent coming to BKC as well as the people behind to scenes who make it all happen. To kick it off, we have Chicago comedian C.J. Toledano. C.J. has worked at “Conan”, “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” and “The Onion News Network”
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN COMEDY?
I got started at the end of my senior year in high school in Erie, PA. I took a comedy class that in retrospect was not the greatest but it got me on stage so I think it was valuable in that sense. I then for the next couple years would travel through Pennsylvania and Ohio looking for spots at open mics or showcases to perform at.
YOU’RE KNOWN FOR HAVING WORKED WRITING FOR TELEVISION, HOW HAS THAT CHANGED HOW YOU WRITE FOR STAND-UP?
Well, it really hasn’t changed how I write for stand-up all that much. I’ve always wrote stand-up by just jotting down funny thoughts or funny things I’ve said in conversation and then take those initial ideas to the stage and see if it gets a reaction and see if I can build on it from there. I rarely ever sit down and plan to write consistently for any given amount of time like I do when writing for television or other professional gigs. There’s probably some inherit writing discipline that has carried over from that but nothing that I’ve really noticed.
WHAT’S THE BEST / WORST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’VE EVER GOTTEN?
Not to namedrop but I’m going to…Chappelle said to me when I was 18, “I’m not giving you any advice because if you really want to do this, you’ll keep going onstage and make mistakes until you’re the comedian you want to be.” Then we talked about the Beastie Boys and Hurricane Katrina for an hour. Pretty surreal moment of my life. Also, in some old Google message board, pre-fame Louis CK told me to not move to New York or LA and to go to a small city and get on stage as much as possible. I chose Chicago, obviously. The worst? Hmmmm. Well, I’ve gotten the typical “you should be talking about being Asian more” from bookers around the country. At this point, those words hold about as much weight as a fart.
(C.J. at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee, WI)
WHAT MUSIC OR PODCAST ARE YOU REALLY INTO RIGHT NOW?
For music, my favorite band is Wilco. I see them live as much as possible. As for current stuff, I’ve been really into this band Youth Lagoon. Oh, and Yo La Tengo’s newest album is awesome. I’ve been listening to that non-stop lately. For podcasts, I really like “Nerdist Writers Panel” for writing purposes, “WTF with Marc Maron” for artist interviews, and the BS Report for sports stuff. All obvious choices but yeah, there’s not much time in the day to really dig around and listen to everything.
WHICH MEMBER OF THE BEATLES COULD YOU MOST EASILY BEAT UP AND WHY?
I don’t know a whole lot about The Beatles but I love the stuff I’ve read and seen about George Harrison so I’d pick him. He was the most eccentric of them all. Also, his solo work is my favorite of all of theirs as well.
ANY UPCOMING PROJECTS YOU WANT TO PLUG?
No projects really. Most of the things I work on these days is private and goes to rich people in suits to decide whether I can write dialogue for their rich person in a suit representative. Stand-up wise, I’m all over.
WHERE CAN WE FIND OUT MORE ABOUT YOU?
I can be found on twitter @CJToledano and my website www.cjtoledano.com.
** C.J. can be seen at Bare Knuckle Comedy on February 10th at Cicero’s (6691 Delmar Blvd. St. Louis, MO) Show starts at 8 and is only $5 **