Malcolm Whitfield is a ridiculously funny comedian with an energetic delivery. He also seems to have his hands in just about everything, preforming multiple open mics a week, competing in Rochester’s Funniest man competition, co hosting a show on WAYO. The list goes on and on. We talked to Malcolm about getting into comedy, learning how to drive (or not), and getting into different styles comedy.
What got you into comedy?
My brother started doing comedy before me and I knew I was funnier than him. I have a twin brother, he started doing comedy when we were 18 and came up with a lot of the guys at the time. I would write a couple of his jokes now and then and make him buy them from me. When I came back to Rochester after school I said “screw it why not start?”. You do it once and then you are hooked. I keep [preforming] it because I get cocky with it. I know I can do better than what I am doing now.
Have you been on tour?
I have been mainly places in New York. The farthest I have ever gone is Tampa Florida. My brother is in the military and I went to visit him. I won some contest over there. I kind of lucked out being there. The goal is to be a road comic. I would love to do that. You kind of need a driver’s license to do that. Cant drive, I am too scared, I am bad at driving.
You never had a drivers license?
Nope. Never had a license. It is not for lack of trying either. I failed the road test a couple times. My brother got his when we were sixteen. I figured we never go anywhere different so what the fuck do I need a license for? So I guess that is the end game. is get on the road and get paid for it. I have Greyhounded to a couple shows. It is a process.
What was your first time on stage like?
It was the first and last time I was nervous on stage. I know how cocky that sounds. It was in Syracuse at a place called Funk n’ Waffles. I had just come from a job interview so I was wearing a tie, I remember that. I did shitty because everyone does shitty their first time on stage. It wasn’t much of a crowd. It was a mixed mic so I went up after some emo kid sang ‘All Time Low’. I did that and I was hooked. I started doing improv comedy before that so it is not like I hadn’t been on stage. I had been doing improv for eight years before then. A couple of people from my improv troupe were there. People knock improv comedy a lot just because when it is bad it is horrible. Even when it is OK it is not fun to watch. But we were good, we did some stuff for the Del Close Marathon. Ultimately I like stand up more because it is a lot more selfish and I can rely on myself. I have done sketch before and in college I wrote for this Onion style paper in Syracuse. In retrospect the stuff I did was very shitty, but I try and get my hands into every style of comedy. Stand up if the only thing that has really stuck.
Are you still in an improv troupe?
I am not in a troupe now. I do a improv radio show for WAYO, that’s as much as I do now. It is a lot of fun, which is great for me. I do it with Andrea Springer and Zach Slavny. We have a good time riffing and playing it off with each other. If there is a meet up or a comedy jam I will still hit those up. It has mainly been stand up lately.
Whats your writing processes like?
I think of something and voice notes it into my phone, then hope I can decipher it later. I have a shitty karaoke microphone in my apartment. If i think of something I will pick that up and test it out on nobody. Usually I have seven notebooks of random sprawling that look like a serial killer. Recently I compressed those seven notebooks into one. I came up with about fifty jokes out of seven notebooks full of bullshit. I dont trust all fifty jokes, and maybe use a only handful. I still write as much as I can but you have to take a break and do stuff that’s not comedy so you can still write jokes. Everyone hits a slump where nothing works and you have to take a breath and take a soul quest. I know a lot of guys that just excel at writing jokes. Personally half of my comedy comes from the physicality of me being on stage and how I say certain things not just the writing.
What is a talent you don’t have and wish you did?
I can’t do a cartwheel or ride a bike without touching the handle bars. That is something I am very jaded about. I can’t fight, I don’t like confrontation. I don’t have any real skills. I went to art school and dropped out of that. So comedy is all I got. I am not very good at math, my tax skills suck. My credit is really shot. I accidentally signed up for a credit card once. Comedy is my only real saving grace because when I feel like I am useless at everything it is the one thing I know I am good at. Any actual skill though? That is where I draw the line.
What are you working towards next?
I have been doing a lot of material and getting video and photos up. Mainly what I want to work towards is traveling. I think it is time for me to break out of Rochester. Hopefully by this time next year I will be struggling to make it somewhere else. Struggling in Rochester is one thing. I want to be struggling at a place where I can preform every night. I want to tell jokes in as many places as I can.