Where are you from and how long have you been in the comedy game?
Houston Texas, and I’ve been performing comedy for 9 years. Five in Houston, four in Chicago.
What made you come to Chicago
I came to Chicago mainly to network and to explore myself to different opportunities....I feel like I did enough in Houston, enough people knew me and it was time for me to get out of my comfort zone.
What part of Chicago are you currently staying at?
I think North park? Like a minute or two from Lincolnwood.
Man, that’s far
Yea when I came here, they told me don’t go south
(Laughs) Yea you can come south but you do need someone to show you how to maneuver. I know in this neighborhood (Bronzeville), they’re trying their best to build everything back up where it need to be. Where you here when we had that comedy joint on King Drive?
Jokes and Notes?
Yea, Jokes and Notes, where you here around that time?
Yea that was the spot
You performed their?
Yea I did man, the owner Mary Lindsey is a very influential figure in comedy period and she really looked out for her Chicago people. When I moved out here she brought me in as one of her own.
Yea it was pretty crazy how that place ended up. I was reading something about how she was promised that Bronzeville will be built to where it needed to be but it never really happened. I’m not sure exactly what this neighborhood need….We probably need a lot of different businesses and stuff like that, I guess that’s how you bring attraction.
I think she thought that it’ll be a little more diverse. It was definitely successful in marketing towards the more urban crowd but she wanted it to be more than that. A lot of Chicago hitters came through there. LiL Rel really popped off, I know he was hosting there for a couple of years. It was another spot before jokes and notes called All Jokes Aside where a lot of comedians like DeRay, Corey Holcomb, and all of those guys started from. It was cool learning the history but yea Jokes and Notes was my favorite club to perform at.
I felt bad that I’ve never checked it out. I moved to the Bronzeville neighborhood in like 2014 and kept planning on checking it out but was putting it off until I looked up and it was closed down. In that sense, do you feel like the comedy scene in Chicago is diverse enough.
Yea definitely so but at the same time, it’s kind of segregated
Yea, that’s the problem with Chicago. You don’t think that each crowd is going to different section of of neighborhoods or audiences?
Jokes and Notes was good for that because the North Side comedians would come there when trying to come South. There’s a spot now called Bar 10 Doors where a few of them would come check it out. If you come too deep south…… you know they may not come out to Francis on 75th Street. It’s another Southside club called Riddles and they come out there but it’s in Alsip Illinois, But yea man it is kind of segregated here but you do have a lot of different ethnic groups doing comedy out here in Chicago so that’s pretty dope.
I know there’s a lot different Chicago comedians that’s breaking through the main stream that are not what you'll picture when thinking about “Chicago” which is a good thing because they're blurring the lines between the white and black crowds. What kind of clubs do they have that they can call their home?
So you have the Improve which is in Schaumburg which is pretty good because they get the best comedians like the DL Hughleys, the Lonnie Loves, and Gabriel Iglesias. They get a lot of different crowds.
But that’s more of the headliners though right?
Yea but it’s good for guys like me because I get to work with some of them and you never know which one would be like “ Yea man, I wanna take you on the road”. I was one of the regular comedians at the Improv in Houston. So I got to work with Paul Mooney, Bruce Bruce, Tommy Davidson…... so yea it was always fun. I do the one in Schaumburg but there's a lot of comedians in Chicago so you’re competing with more people for different spots.
Yea the city is huge and everybody is trying to find a lane but it’s hard because theirs no real structure.
So I found one of your quick 6 minutes set on Youtube and one of your jokes was you basically explaining how your barber thought it was sacrilegious of you to say that Jordan wasn’t your favorite player. That made me think of how I would like to see other people outside view of us. What are some things that we hype up but you probably see it being trash or overrated.
Well first, the Jordan thing is universal but I’m just the exception but they might hate me for this but Harold’s Chicken is one of them. I think Harold’s dope but in Houston, we have place called Frenchy’s and I think that’s better but I could be biased.
So there’s this thing about Harolds that outsiders think they’re all the same but its really not. You’ll have to go into the neighborhood where you might get shot at to get the best Harold’s. The best ones is probably the one one 87th and State, 83rd and Ashland, and a few more. I would say the one on Halsted but they’ll make you mad by telling you that they stopped selling chicken for the day. But with those you kinda gotta go in and out.
There’s one on 63rd and it was like REAL hood
Man, It was a pit bull in there with a bullet hole in the door. The lady in their wasn’t friendly at all. She was like “ You don’t know what kind of sauce you want?” I wasn’t on mild sauce at the time
What you say, barbecue sauce?
I got the mild sauce part but I was confused by the question. Something about toppings or something
Yea some of them employees probably not use to outsiders coming to their location. Mainly people only go to the “safe ones” like the ones downtown. Anything else thats too hyped up?
Umm yea, the Bean (Laughs). Anybody that comes visit me, I take them to the bean but honestly I don’t see what the big deal is. But I get it though, that’s probably a tourisey thing.
Yea its mainly for tourists and highschoolers. Yea its cool I guess but Chicagoans look more at the piece that Picasso donated to us as being our true and original landmark. I actually forgot where it was, I think its in the Daley Center.
Yea I gotta check that out. I like the city a lot and I think its more so of the words I had to get use to.
The word Hype, like a crackhead or something like that. You know like the word goofy too
Yea I knew the word goofy but not in the way that y’all use it……Tricking too.. like you’re snitching on somebody
That’s a Chicago slang? i thought that was universal.
Like tricking on a female but not like telling on somebody.... But yea I had people showing me the comedy game in Chicago but not really the actual city. I’ve gotten a regular job out here and I had coworkers showing me places here and there
With you being a comedian and me being a visual artist, we’re both in careers where there’s this unbalance where the amount of work we put in sometimes weighs more than being able to enjoy the fruit of the labor. After knowing this, what keeps you going and if you did, could you explain the moment where you felt like quitting.
Yea man, to start that off, I’ve read this quote where it said something like “We have the right to work but not the right to the fruit of the labor”. Like we control the work but we don’t control the results. If it’s come then it’s a bonus. The main thing for being an artist is to focus on your original motive. Some people do it for the love, some people do it to help people which I think is great but remember to not lose sight on why you started. I know comedians get caught up on a lot of what the other comedians are doing especially when social media makes it worse. When I get into all of that, those are the moments where I’m like “ Damn, I should quit”. I only had like 2 moments where I wanted to quit.
Yea two serious moments where I wanted to.. and when I say serious, I don’t even call them serious serious.
Like not in an actual serious moment but it was still strong enough for you to feel like quitting?
Yea yea, exactly. Not to the point where I actually quit but it did sit in my mind like “ What am I doing?”. That was another reason why I came to Chicago because it helped me and my wife to grow up. Like I had my own place but we fell on hard times and we had to stay with my parents. My dad supports what I do but he wasn’t going to let me be just a full time comedian and not bring in any income while staying in his house. Right now I’m doing comedy full time while my wife still work so I’m able to focus and really push it. But yea like you said though, we do put in a lot of work and get a little bit of nothing in return.
I ask that because people outside of this don’t know when they’re doing it but sometimes they can really discourage an artist. When you put it on paper, what we do doesn’t make sense because you’re putting in hours and years. Comedians probably have it worst than visual artists. We can create murals for small companies and business but most of my favorite comedians have been doing it since the 90’s and they didn’t really get on until like 5 years ago. Like what do you feel about that after knowing that?
It kinda helps with the more stories you hear and it kind of make you feel a little more relax. Me, I’m 9 years in and you do have that feeling when you’re 5 years in and you’re like damn I’m not on TV yet but in hindsight it’s a beautiful thing because 5 years ago, I wasn’t ready. Now, Imma be able to handle it. I pray about it and I have a good outlook on it. The older I get, the less sold I get on the fame side of it but as far as the financial side of it, there's no doubt in my mind that I’ll be well off with it.
I think that’s the part I had to transition to because I knew all of the right quotes but sometimes you can’t help but to feel the way you feel. I knew all of that and heard all of that and I still wanted to do this but it’s like you’re spending a lot time convincing others that you’re happy. That was the main thing. You don’t need a lot of the other stuff, but you still have people asking “Why are you doing this? You’re not working? Why didn’t you take that job?” After a while, while you’re still getting beat with it, you’ll start to ask like “damn should I be doing this?” Like should I quit and work security and do 50 hours making $15 bucks an hour? How old are you?
Yea that’s good to know that as years go by, you will start to transition more into your happiness; into what you think happiness means to you.
Yea it’s great too because you get people who ask what you do and you can say “ I’m a comedian”.
Do you say it with pride? Thats a thing too. How do you say it?
Yea man you know… I use to be shy about telling people what I did… I think it’s the coolest thing in the world to do
Yea I do to an extent say it with pride but I don’t wanna say it like I’m bragging. When I perform, I like the element of surprise. I’ll have a conversation with somebody and then 10 minutes later they’ll see me perform in shock. I use to not really like telling people because you get all these questions like "Say something funny now"
Yea like wait you're funny? You didn't say anything funny.
Yea it was book I read about this real estate dude and he said something like "Whoever you're talking to, let them know what you do." His reason was that you'll never know who you're talking to and what you can do can help them with their goals or vice versa. He wasn’t' just talking about your professional life but your goals as well. Sometimes I know we're not suppose to be telling everybody our moves but from his perspective.
Yea that probably help you build enough confidence to tell people that you're a comedian. I use to go through something like that. I wouldn't even tell people that I paint. People who know me know what I do but if somebody would tell me what I do, I'll tell them about my actual job. Now that I'm starting to get more work, I kinda have a bit more confidence and it's not confidence in doing it, it's confidence in SAYING it. That was probably the main thing I had to get out of.
Yea for a long time....I'm very modest about what I do....
Yea modest, that's the word. Like if you're walking around saying your job titled, I feel them saying “ Oh, here we go". Like I couldn't go around telling people I paint pictures. I think about it and it sounds stupid but instantly think that once I start telling people I'm an artist, they instantly put a price tag on my net worth. But that's more me than them.... But I'm glad you gave me that quote. At the event that we met at (Coffee and Conversations), that was the whole premise of how you would introduce yourself. I've only been there like 3 times but that was how they made us introduce ourselves. You start off by saying what you do passion wise, say everything else in between, then you say what's your actual paying job. After I've been there a couple of times, I started to build the confidence in saying " Yea, I'm an artist".
I think hearing my dad introduce me as a professional comedian is what had me feeling like “ Yes, I’ve made it.”.... I don't know if it's that thing like... "What the world perceive me as"... But it should come from within first....
Yea it should. That's the smart way to look at it but sometimes we can't help to feel the way we feel. Yea when my dad started seeing me as that and started saying my artist name Quest the Legend, that shit was so cool to me, I was like "Yes I did"
Your skits are really funny, especially the video titled "Man get slapped by woman" where you say the things that men can’t say to their wives. I couldn’t help but feeling guilty in the fact that I was hoping that you took that concept and created a thousand 1 minute version of that video and throw it on Instagram but that kind of went against of how I felt art should be treated. How do you see yourself maneuvering in the social norm of needing to update constantly to stay relevant.
I think as a whole, our attention span is short. Long ago, we use to have to wait till a tv program come on..
Like Leno or letterman and wait for them to tell you who's funny.
Yea they'll tell you that you had to wait till next week for the next episode or comedian but now it's like if they're taking too long, Imma go to the next guy. I think the science is that if you have like 2-3 uploads a week of original content, you're good. It's about consistency which I don't have just yet
Yea me neither
I've been reading this book and I've just finished yesterday called Mini Habits and it basically talk about turning things into a habit by starting super small. So if you wanted to do like 20-30 push ups everyday, you'll start with one push up a day. If you wanted to do more, that's fine but on the days where you don't feel like doing shit, just do that one. I've been doing that where I'm doing one push up a day or reading one page a day. It kind of hitting my brain where now I'm like "Oh,I Need to do this."Hopefully that will help me consistently do the videos too.
Is it because you wanted to put a lot of thought into it or ...
I think that's what it be. I be overthinking it sometime. I be thinking I need all of this equipment or it need to be super funny. It's really about building that audience.
That's kind of how I started noticing you. Like even the jokes that wasn't like super funny, I was kind of like oh that's kind of smart like how he thought that joke out or how he maneuvered that joke. What was the book called?
Mini habits by Steven Guise. I read too many self help books where I was like this is the one.
Was that the book that made everything click?
Yea I just finish yesterday so it's too early to tell but last night, I came in late and I didn't feel like doing anything but I ended up doing it anyway. HIs theory was like if you're doing one push up a day, it's more beneficial than trying to do 30 off the back because you'll never know when you'll do the next 30 push-ups. But if you do that one a day, it'll always be on your brain.
Did you feel like you was lazy or disorganized?
A little bit of both. I have spurts of moments but it's easy to get distracted.
Do you think that that concept is more for making you a better person or is it more to a help you reach a specific goal or project.
I think both. His concept is if you wanted to be a more positive person so you'll be able to complete those or any projects.
Yea I don't think I'm lazy, I actually think that I'm the hardest working person I know but sometimes I do put too much on my plate. I started to get overloaded and burnt out to the point where I would get easily distracted. Like I wasn't trying to because there's too much stuff I need to do right now but I ended up buying that Spider-man game. I told myself don't buy that Spider-Man game because once you do, you'll get burnt out and run straight to that but I ended up buying it anyway. That's kind of a great idea of doing one small task at a time. I kind of thought that that's what I needed to do but it's great to hear it from someone else's mouth to know if that's the right thing to do.
Idk if you created the description yourself but I seen somewhere where you was billed as being the "clean comedian” and that curse words was something you couldn't afford or something like that. I forgot. Is there a specific reason for this approach?
I have a college agency and they wrote that and typically colleges don't want you to curse on stage. My first 6 years, I didn't curse at all on stage and now since my last three, I do now. It's cool because I'm able to flip both sides. I think I said something like " Cursing is a cheap way to get laughs that I can't afford." Or something like that. I was looking at it now and I don't think I'll want that to be my bio.
Yea that was a weird bio and it was probably something to give to a specific gig. The concept is interesting though. I like the aspect of starting on starting to sculpt your skills by restricting yourself. Was there a specific reason why?
It's good that you say that because I think I was restricting myself from race material but I was getting frustrated because I couldn't come up with shit so now I do more racial stuff and now I think I'm kind of good at it. I grew up religiously and I put myself in a zone before I started where I wasn't cursing or anything like that period and once I started, I thought that I needed to curse but I didn't curse in my regular life so why should I curse on stage. All in All, I’m glad I started off like that because now I feel comfortable doing both clean an dirty comedy.
It funny because after watching all of your videos, I didn’t notice that you wasn’t cursing until after I read your description. You ever thought about going to LA.
Yea well our true plan is to go to New York, then to LA, then back to Houston. Who knows what life have in store for us but I know for a fact that we don’t want to stay in cold weather. They say that in New York, it’ll make you a better comedic, then we’ll go to LA where they say all of the TV opportunities will come. I don’t know if what I’m doing is the right way to do it but when it’s all said and done, we’ll see what the book says.