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Ep 5 Get Good with kermet apio

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Welcome Kermet apio

Ep 5 Kermet Apio 

Carole Freeman: Hey, we're live everyone. Welcome to the get good podcast with Carole Freeman. This is the podcast for comedians that are serious about getting good. So whether you're trying to advance beyond the open mic scene or looking to get booked consistently at comedy clubs and beyond, this podcast is for you. I am your host, Carole Freeman, comedian.

And on this show, I interview headlining comedians, club owners, bookers, festival judges, comedy instructors, and more to find out their best tips. Techniques, strategies, so that you can improve your standup comedy and get good. And today we have the one, the only, the amazing Kermet Apio, everyone.  

Kermet Apio: Hi, Carole.

Thanks for having me on. I appreciate it. I have this here.

Carole Freeman: You didn't know what you were in for. So. I know a lot of you watching, listening know who Kermit is, but if you don't, I'll just give you a little bit of his bio, his backstory. So he's born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, and he enjoyed a childhood in paradise. He spent his time watching television, playing and procrastinating everything else.

To this day, he still does all three extensively. And Kermit moved to Seattle to attend University of Washington. And he started comedy. There, the year that I graduated high school, 1989, which, you know, is only just 10 years ago. Right. Kermit's been doing comedy for over 30 years. And the fun thing is, is that his open mic is the same place that my open mic.

Very first open mic was as well rest in peace, comedy underground in Seattle. And so I can't wait to talk about that more too. And so in just a year later, he quit his job and went comedy full time. So we got a lot to talk about there, how he made that transition. He has one, let's see, he was a winner of 2009 Great American Comedy Festival, numerous appear appearances on television and radio. He showcased in comedy festivals around the country.

He's performed in 47 states. So I'm going to find out which three he has not. And three Canadian province provinces, a past winner of Seattle comedy competition, 75 finalist in San Francisco comedy competition.

And His greatest accomplishment, perhaps 1988, he was dishwasher of the month at Sea Tac airport Denny's.

Is that place still there?  

Kermet Apio: It is still there. I, I, I often see it when I, when I fly out and I think of it fondly.


Carole Freeman: That's so fun. So I'm so glad that you took the time out of your, your schedule to be here.

And I look forward to chatting more for you with you. So Mark Gilchrist, is that's hi Mark. Thanks for being here, Mark. Yeah, if you're watching this just give us a comment, let us know where you're joining from and gosh, where, where, where do we start, Kermit? So I, I, I've known of you the whole time doing comedy, but I was so lucky to get to carpool with you.

You were kind of my Uber driver to a show that we were both on earlier this year in Tacoma, and I got to Experience firsthand. What everybody talks about is what a really great guy you are and just really nice. And we had some really good chats the whole way. So thank you. Thank you again for being here.

Kermet Apio: Yeah, that's very nice of you to say. I appreciate that.  

Carole Freeman: You know, there's a lot of people in this scene and everybody will say. Certain things behind, you know, closed doors versus public and everything. Anyone said both places for you. It's just always been super positive. So

good job at, at being a good person.

Kermet Apio: That's nice. But I could, I could actually give you a list that would say otherwise. Is there a list of those people as well?  

Carole Freeman: Maybe it says more about them than it does you though. So we'll take it. Okay. So take us back to that first. Open mic. We're going to talk about 30 years of your life here. So what,

what made you go and try that crazy comedy thing at comedy underground?

Kermet Apio: Well, so I was always a fan of comedy when I was young my You know if I didn't mess up during the week My parents would let me stay up on friday night and watch johnny carson And and I wouldn't fall asleep. It was late for me, but I would watch every minute and every friday and so I was always a big fan of comedy and And then in college, whenever and to some extent in high school, whenever I had a chance to, like a creative writing class, to write something funny, I would try.

It wasn't always funny, but I always tried to write something more comedic than anything else. So anyway, I, I was working for United Airlines after my, after my stint at Denny's. I I got in with United Airlines at the airport there. And there was a guy on another shift who did open mic and sometimes got paid gigs and, and he was just a really kind of crazy and funny guy and everything.

And, Got to know him and he took me to open mic, and I hung out twice, two or three times, I think, and just hung out and watched, and, and then the fourth time, I think he knew I wanted to go up, but I was just too, like, scared, and too nervous to, to, to say it out loud, so the fourth time, he said, hey, you want to go to open mic tonight?

I said, yeah, I'd love to. He goes, do you want to go up? And I just kind of, you You know, I wanted to say yes, but I, I, I wanted to say no. It was like, I, I'm not, I think so. I'm not sure. And he goes, yeah, just go up. And I said, well, I don't know. How do you do that? How do you put, put a set together? And, and he said, he said, he knew that I had all these, I had this notebook of all these little writings and he said, just pick some stuff from that.

And. You know, maybe stuff that's personal that you think might be funny. And I said, I said, what if I don't have five minutes? And he said, then say good night. You know, you don't have to do five. That's the maximum, you know, like I didn't know. I thought, I thought five minutes meant, okay, you better do five minutes.

And he said, if you're done at three just say good night. No, nobody, nobody needs you to do five. Just do whatever, you know. And that, and so to have a friend take me and also, because back then, you know, now you can find out all the information you want about how an open mic works, but back then you couldn't.

So for, you had to actually go down to the club, I mean, you could call, but they wouldn't tell you a lot. They just say, I'll come down Monday by seven o'clock and sign up. That's all they would say. And so to have a friend take me there and I got to watch him do it, I watched him sign up at seven and then we would sit and hang out and talk and I got to meet his comedy friends, you know?

I actually kind of had an idea of how it worked, and so that helped a lot. So it was like my fourth time at the Comedy Underground, and I got to, I got to try it. But yeah, it was, it's this buddy just kind of hanging out with him, and he dared me to go on, and there was there were a few comics.

There was one comic that's still a friend of mine today who was standing at the edge of the stage and he said you're gonna keep doing this right and I was like I hadn't even thought of all I could think about was like this one incredibly nerve wracking experience and then a few of the other comics you know told me nice job and everything and I was I was Thrilled.

And from that moment, I was pretty much in. Okay.  

Carole Freeman: That's, that's a lot of times you get that dose of whatever you get on stage and you're like, Oh my gosh, I need more. Yeah. That's amazing. That that's interesting too. So the first time I did it was down to only three minutes. Cause they had so many people that they were putting up at that point.

So I can only imagine the growth of comedy. Yeah, over that 30 years. And I, I remember my very first, I was always a comedy fan. I'll just share mine if you don't mind.

Carole's first open mic

That always a comedy fan as well. And, I remember watching Travis Nelson, who's still up in the Northwest Seattle area. And I would watch him and I asked him finally, when I was like, going to go do my first open mic, I'm like, where should I go?

And he says, comedy underground, that's where you got to go. And I, I, at that, at that time, so this was about five and a half years ago. The, they had a, so Monday night was the open mic and you got three minutes. And if you did well, they had a Tuesday night callback show that they would invite, you know, it was like a booked.

Showcase open mic type of thing, unpaid thing. And in my mind, I, you know, and I'd written and I'd practiced my three minutes and in my mind, I was so amazing and so great. My goal was to get booked on that Tuesday show. So I go in there thinking like, I'm going to kill this and I'm, I'm going to know I was a success because I'm going to immediately get booked for that tomorrow show and.

And so I did my set and I'm like looking around, like, where's the person that comes up and books me? And Travis was there. Travis Nelson was there and he's standing in the back. And I've learned since the, the, the code phrase that comics say when you didn't do that great. So he says, so how do you think that went?

And I was like okay, I guess it was okay. And it took a full year. I mean, doing comedy for me to be able to get booked on that Tuesday show. And I found out it's not all the glory that I thought it was going to be. And you know, there were like three people in the audience and, and I was just like, but I, you know, I finally achieved my goal a year later, being able to get booked on that Tuesday callback show,  

Kermet Apio: I think, yeah, I think for most of us, there is a

it is a bit of a shock when you start to realize that oh, I'm gonna be bad at this for a while

It's a really hard thing to say because when you before you go you think all right I've got some jokes, you know, and and then you really realize, you know Cuz luckily my first one I got a few laughs not a ton But I got a few laughs which for a first timer is kind of huge, right?

And then in the next few weeks, I realized, Oh, I'm not that good at this. Like, it was like, Oh my God, they're staring at me, you know, and, and okay, well, I better do this and do this. And you realize it's not about like, Oh, I'm going to be hosting in the next six months. I'm good. You can't, you can't do that.

You have to at first, say, okay, I got to figure out what all these other people know that I don't and how that works for me personally.

Right. Because not everybody's. Strategy works for everybody else. So, so, but learning that is, is the beginning of learning that is to say to yourself, Oh, I'm not as far as I thought I was, you know, like it's, it's humbling.

And it, it really, that first year weeds out a lot of people, you know, that, right, you see a lot of people like they do it for a few months and they go, yeah, this is too much. And but, but if you can get past that first year and all of a sudden you start to get a few more good shows than, than bad shows and, and, and you start to kind of feel, feel who you are, but yes, you, you go in not knowing that you go in, not realizing, Oh, this is a process.

Carole Freeman: Yeah.

So take us back to when you went full-time.

So within a year of your first open, Mike, you went full time. You quit.  

Kermet Apio: No, it was more than that. It was about, it was a year and a half to maybe a year and a year and eight months or so. It was, it was a while.


Carole Freeman: Still pretty quick for comparatively to what you can do now. So what, but also it sounds like you were working, you know, maybe a minimum wage job.

So maybe it was a little lower.

Kermet Apio: It was better than minimum wage and also had, it had flight benefits. I was working for United. So, so it was kind of nice, you know, but the, you know, just, just. So what happened was I, I got to try to, I had a month off because they were going to lay someone off. And I said, and I said, look, don't lay anybody off.

Just it's the slow season. The busy season starts in about six weeks. Why don't you let me take a, you know, thing. And cause I had had people saying like, Hey, if you want to go do a gig in Yakima or Spokane, you know, and I couldn't at the time because I just was working. And so for about six weeks. I call all these bookers and I said, Hey, I can do, you know, some stuff, you know, I can travel for about a month.

And so I got a club in Spokane, which was a six night club at the time. And all these one nighters and it was amazing, Carole. I was like, I'm, I'm a working comic. I'm on the road. I'm doing, you know, like I get into the clubs for free. I could just walk in and say, I'm a comic. And they let me in. It was like, it was really just kid in the candy store type stuff.

Like I remember sitting there and I ordered something. And I said to the, I said to the club manager, I said, Hey, can I grab my tab? And he goes, no, no, no, you get, you get a, you get two drinks, and a food. It wasn't like a steak or anything. It was, it was like cheese sticks or something.

Carole Freeman: Chicken strips is the joke.  

Kermet Apio: And

I literally said out loud to the other comics, "I get this food for free!"

So for a month, a month and a half, I really felt like, Oh man, this is, this is incredible. And then I went back to work and I just felt so I was, I mean, it was like, Oh, I didn't, I didn't realize that. comedy thing is fun. And here's the other part of it too. I was having a blast. I was, I just, it was a great six weeks, but you know what, Carole, the gigs weren't good.

They were tough one nighters. The clubs were fun, obviously, but on the Tuesday, Wednesday, the clubs, they, you know, you were working kind of hard and I had way too many Seattle jokes. I was like, Oh, how about our mayor? Huh? Like they don't care. They don't, I'm in Yakima. I don't care about your mayor in Seattle.

Comedy pay then vs now

You know, it was, it was really, so, so I had a lot to learn, but just being on the road and being a comic, it didn't matter that the gig sucked. It was like, it was like, Oh, that is more what I want to do. So yeah, so that's, that's kind of where it, where it, where it came from. And then when I, so I went back for a few months and And this is going to sound crazy, but at the time emceeing paid 400 a week.

So you could, and you could do it. Yeah.  

Carole Freeman: We talked about this a little bit when I was up there about how the pay has just gone.  

Kermet Apio: Yeah. So, so to host, you could do, you could host the, like the comedy underground for. You know, maybe five, six times a year. You could do it almost, almost every month or every other month or whatever.

And you'd make 400. So, so, so I would be at work and I'd have like paychecks backed up that I haven't, you know, like for six weeks, I didn't pick up a paycheck because I was just living off comedy cash. Right. And so that really pissed off my supervisors. They were so mad. And so they called me in and they said, you know, you better decide, is it comedy or United?

I go, well, why do I have to decide that? I said, does my work suffering? And they said, no, but you do these things like you leave paychecks in the book. Like, I'm sorry, I'll come get the paychecks, you know, and they really kind of getting at me, like, you know. You have to decide. You have to decide. And I said, okay, can I, can I have until tomorrow?

They really, they really kind of grilled me. It's either United or comedy. You better decide. And I said, can I have until tomorrow? And then they just were like, what? Like, and and so I.

What kermet's mom said when he went full-time

I talked to my mom, who's a United lifer, like she spent 35 years at United. Oh. And without her blessing, I wouldn't have done it. But she said, she said, yeah you know, if, if you want to just, and she said, just don't half ass it. She said, if you're going to leave all your, all your everything behind, you're going to leave your benefits and all that.

Don't half ass this. And she said, she said, And I told her years later, I said, I'm so surprised you gave me your blessing. And she said, you know why? I've never seen you try hard at anything until comedy. She said, that was the first thing I saw you ever really work at.  

Carole Freeman: That's kind of a backhanded compliment.

Kermet Apio: Thanks. Very backhanded compliment. And

it's a very Hawaiian mom compliment

but you know what? She wasn't wrong. She's totally right. So she so that's so the next I type that night. I stayed up. I typed up a resignation letter very nice thanking United for you know, my Opportunity to come out of college and have some have have a job and and yeah It was really and then I put on my two week notice


Carole Freeman: Wow.

Wow. Rusty comedian Seattle area comics as Kermet is a beast.


Kermet Apio: It's very nice. Rusty. It's been a long time, man. Good to see you. And congrats.  

Carole Freeman: He just got married recently. I saw. So congratulations, Rusty. Congrats. Yeah. Yeah. And it's just, I think it, your story, I've heard it a lot for. You know, comics that have been in it 20 plus years, just how it's so much different.

Career acceleration

And, and I know too, from my own experience that. Your growth as a comic accelerates so fast, so much faster being able to go, you know, do consecutive gigs, you know, a week of gigs or something like that, just that experience. And you get so much better quicker than trying to do open mics, you know, 10 open mics in a week is equivalent of, I don't know, one show on the road or something, having those opportunities that you had.

You know, I can hear from your story of how you were able to, you know, within two years of starting comedy, be able to go full time is amazing. And it makes me really jealous of like, gosh, I wish I could, I don't know, go back or we can have the same opportunities that we have now. It's a very different comedy world that we live in now.


Kermet Apio: I completely agree. It was, it was a different time then. And also too, you know the triple run, the famous two runs, David Tribble had anywhere from 35 to 45 rooms at any given time. So I could get in my car, drive, drive out to, you know, Missoula and start a three, a three week run where I was off.

Maybe Four days, you know, and I just sleep at a rest stop that night and and but and the gigs were hard Some were good some some gigs some of triple gigs were actually pretty decent, but many of them were really hard But man, did you learn fast because when you're standing on stage and and you're in the middle of nowhere And like I said, they could care less about your Seattle jokes you write quickly I mean the next morning you have a three hour drive to the next town you were thinking the jokes and jotting them down as you drive because It was it was Fast learning because of that, you know, and then and then other people had a bunch of one-nighters too And there were more clubs back then So yeah I'm very lucky that you could And you really at the time there were so many gigs that your job as an opener was to get the headliner to the gigs

That was really your main job and then talk for half an hour And as long as the crowd didn't actually despise you you could keep doing it and get better So it was a very different time and I was very lucky to start at that time  

Carole Freeman: So you mentioned too, that one of the things you learned quickly during that time was

Tip: minimize your local references

or if you're going to make, you know, people in Spokane, aren't going to understand Seattle references.

Do you remember anything else from that time of like kind of these big ahas that you had of, you know, things that you needed to change or improve to get better?  

Kermet Apio: Yes. Well, there, there was a ton, but you know, there were things like it wasn't just about the Seattle references. It was also the Seattle sense of humor.

Right. you know, when I, when I came to Seattle, man, I was, I remember when the, when the Neptune, you know, would, would show like all these like crazy independent movies, which I didn't know existed in Hawaii. It was basically the popular movies, right? You saw the top, the top movies. You didn't see art house films.

I didn't know what that was. So when I came to college, man, I just fell in love with Seattle because I love Seattle. Stuff like that, where I got to see all these movies from different countries or different, different, you know, not as known directors that were great and, and, you know, just kind of the sense of humor about everything.

almost live

And you probably don't know, but almost live was a comedy show that was on every Sunday and it had the Seattle sense of humor. And so it wasn't just about like me making Seattle references. I made jokes that were way too subtle for Pocatello, Idaho. They were way too dry. And I, and still to this day, I have a dry sense of humor.

A lot of my stuff is dry, but, but I'm now know that it has to be sort of couched in different ways so that Pocatello will, will go, okay, we'll follow you on this, right. And so, and you realize you sort of realize, okay, what do I want to achieve in this? Right. And I, and I'm never going to be. The one-nighter in Idaho.

I'm never going to be their favorite comic, but I can, but I can do enough now where I know I can have a good show and that was that, that had to be something I had to figure out. So it was things like that. It was just like, how do I relate to people whose lives are nothing like me, right? There's a guy who's, you know, been been out, you know, bailing hay all day long, right?

And he, They come in and he's got his dress flannel shirt on and you see his hands and they're just chiseled. And I'm not that person at all. How do I relate in some way to him? And man, that took a long time. What I started doing is doing some fish out of water jokes, like just the idea of a Hawaiian being in Pocatello, Idaho, where, where's the humor in that?


One of my early fish out of water type jokes,

I ordered a, I ordered a chowder somewhere in like Utah or Idaho, and it was. Really bad. And the other comic, the headliner who's from Seattle is laughing. He goes, you live in Seattle, you order chowder and now you're complaining about it because you thought, where's the nearest clam live?

And I started, I started laughing. Right. And it was stuff like that where I realized, Oh yeah, that's that to them can be funny. Like I came here and I knew nothing about it. Here are my assumptions. Here's where I was wrong. And that's where the humor. So it was, it was really about finding the connection between me and them because man, I did not know those people at all.

Right. I grew up on an Island and then I moved to a, you know, very cosmopolitan, very, you know Seattle. And then all of a sudden I'm in these small towns in Montana, Idaho, Utah, and having to relate. And man, that's, that was, that was a fun thing to do, but boy, it took years.  

Carole Freeman: I do actually remember almost live.

I moved to Seattle in 93. Okay. And so I got 27 years up there. I remember almost live was what played after Saturday night live. So it was on very late. And I, the skit I remember is the high five and white guys that they, right.  

Kermet Apio: Right. And the whole, the whole sketch was based on, you know, five, very white guys just doing something or being somewhere that's exciting and they all high five.

And it was a very funny bit, but it was also silly and right. And you can't go to these country bars in the middle lower and do stuff that's silly. You have to kind of have some, have some bite to what you're doing.  

Carole Freeman: Right. Right. Yeah. Okay. So, you know, continue on your, your journey, your you know, what were some of the milestones then that you hit after that doing the, the trouble runs and  

Kermet's Career Milestones

Kermet Apio: well, okay, the big milestone 1991 I, I won the Seattle comedy competition and I had, and I'm not kidding or exaggerating.

I had no business winning it. It was, it was really one of those things where. Yeah. It was my, I think it was the third year I did it. I think I did it two years when I had my day job. And but then the third year I did it, I had been on the road a bit. And, and I really, I'll tell you this with two nights left to go in prelims, the first round, I was asking.

People who are making the semi finals. Hey, are you canceling any gigs next week? Cause, cause I'm free. And, and I was, I was in ninth place with two nights to go. And I squeaked into fifth place the very last night. I was in a tough room, a room that I didn't normally do well in. And I won it, which is bizarre.

I actually won the last night and that put me by a few hundreds of a point into fifth place. So I was lucky to make the prelims. And and then I made the finals. So so. And I was very lucky to win that. I talked to one of the judges later and he said something interesting. He goes, you were the only one that, that didn't.

I made the finals of the competition and I really was like, I, you know, I was the kid who was lucky to be on finals and I, and I was happy to be there.

And, but what it turns out was, so they were saying, okay, you have 22 minutes max. So the first light goes at 20, second light goes at 21. If you see both lights at 22, you you've yeah. I don't know if you disqualified or whatever, but you can't go over 22. And I said what's, what's the minimum we have to do?

Cause I did not want to go back into my open mic material. Right. And so he said, well, you have to do 18 and I go, and what is that light?

And so. I was thinking, man, do I bring in bits that I kind of have dropped? You know what I mean? Like after open mic, you kind of drop bits that were like, eh, those weren't, those are kind of embarrassing now, but, and I thought, no, you don't want to do, I'm going to talk slow. And, and so a couple years later when I, I talked to one of the, I met one of the judges, he told me that he said, we all thought that you were the least nervous.

I go, I was the most nervous by far. And he said, everybody else was talking so fast. I said, because they were trying to get as many jokes as they could get in. I was trying to save jokes, but by talking slower. I look like I was comfortable and it really, it really worked. And okay.  

Carole Freeman: So there's a good tip.

tip: talk slower to seem more confident

Kermet Apio: Talk slow. Yeah. And, and I'm, and I'm, by the way, I'm the reason there's more than one night of finals. I just want to point that out because, because back then was one night I caught lightning in a bottle. And I couldn't believe it. I was surprised I won. And all of a sudden, there's two nights of finals and three nights.

And now there's like, I think, five nights of finals. But, and what happens, what that does is that it really does say that, Okay, the kid that catches lightning in a bottle won't catch it five nights in a row. So it, it does kind of make the, the, the, the quality kind of, you know, the demand of quality goes up rather than just one night.

So yeah, I'm one of the reasons that there's multiple night of finals, if not the main reason.  

Carole Freeman: Oh, they want it. Well, yeah,  

Kermet's First time headlining

Kermet Apio: I should tell you this. So, so. Back then you had to headline a weekend at the underground. If you want the head, they'd have the winner of the competition would headline a week.

Carole Freeman: Well,  you said you had to, instead of you got to

Kermet Apio: you got to, that's a good point. And, and get this. So I had about maybe 30 like that, you know, and that's bringing in some of those jokes that I was trying to drop. And so I said to, I said to the guy who ran the comedy underground, I said, do you want me to feature that weekend? And he goes, we can't feature the winner of our competition.

He goes, what does that say about us if we can't put it? And I said, I've never headlined. So, so he said, look, do your thing. And say goodnight. If it's 35 say goodnight. Don't, I don't want you doing where you're from. You're, you're not good enough at that yet. You're, you're too new to, to be riffing to fill the time.

So, so just say goodnight and yeah, so, so I headlined in December and you know, the funny thing is I am seated in March. Won the competition November headline December, so I never featured the underground I went from MC to headliner in like six months So when you ask it, what are my milestones that was huge because I had to write because then back then, you know There was a newspaper called just for laughs that was in all the comedy clubs, right and John Fox who who owned the comedy underground he he put out this newspaper and, and so it was pretty widely read, but once his article about the competition came out, cause he, he ran Seattle and, and San Francisco.

So whenever the competition, when the competition ended, he would, he would, they would have a big article in the just for last. Well, all of a sudden I'm getting hired. Like I'm getting people, people hired me off that article and I wanted to say, I'm glad you're hiring me, but I got 30 minutes, you know, you might want to feature me, you know, and so I had to write quickly.

So that was a huge thing because I had to write, I was being offered if not headline dates, I was offering being offered co headline dates, you know, where I'd go on before the headliner, but I'd have to do 45 or 40 and they would do 40 or something like that, you know It just changed everything. I, I, I got, I got two TV shows soon after that.

I got Star Search and Evening at the Improv. So yeah, winning that competition changed everything for me.  

Carole Freeman: Wow. Just gaslight on your or gas gaslight. That's wrong. One. Gasoline, pour gasoline.  

Kermet Apio: It did


Carole Freeman: on your career.  

Kermet Apio: Yeah, it did. It forced me. That's amazing. It forced me to get 45 minutes as quickly as I could.

Carole Freeman:  So, I was going to ask then about like your tips or opinions about, you know, applying for competitions. Obviously, you're going to have opinions are going to be very favorable for that. Yeah, so what do you think about like, you know, should people apply sooner than later? Or should they wait till they feel like they're ready for a competition?

Like, what are you, what would be your advice? For young comics now.

when should you apply to competitions and festivals?


Kermet Apio: I think, I think, I think earlier is better because here's the thing. I think if you feel like, if you feel like you can, you can, you have what it takes to go, then nobody really should tell, is there to tell you no, I mean, I mean, yeah, maybe in hindsight you might do a competition and say, oh man, that the level of competition I was, I was kind of.

And over my head, but I think for the most part, we know, I think comics kind of know, I mean, we say around other comics, we, we make sure and say, we're, we're doing well. And we're, you know, Oh, I just got to close that gig and everything. But I think when we're driving home by ourselves, we really do take stock in how we did, you know, I mean, like you and I were talking about the first time you excuse it.

And like you said, there's that. So how'd you think you did, you know, but I think after, after a few months, you know, the answer to that question, I really believe that like, You say to yourself, how do I think that went? Not well, not, not really well. So I think if you think you're ready go for it because there's really nothing to lose.

There used to be a feeling like, If I, if I expose myself to a certain industry person too early, they'll always have in their head, Oh, that person's, that person's not very good. And, and there is that there that does exist, but the fact is not like it used to, it, you, that used to be the case because they were the gatekeepers, right?

They, they, they controlled all the pathways to, to success. On the level higher than the clubs, but now that's not the case. So let's say you do a competition, maybe do a little too early. You don't do very well. There's an industry person who goes, Oh, that person, not very good. Not that that didn't go well.

It doesn't matter because a year later when that person has, you know, 50, 000 followers and is, is getting, you know, getting a thousand likes per video. None of that matters. So they're not, they're not as much the gatekeepers anymore, because the fact is if you can get, likes on your, on your posts and your videos in a certain town, they will bring, that club will bring you in there.

You don't need a gatekeeper in LA to bring you out to these clubs. It's so, so I do believe go as early as you can, as you, I'm sorry, not as you can, but as you feel like, if you feel like you're ready, go for it. And even if you're early, Take your lumps, go and go, come back home and say, okay, what could I have done better?

What do I need to do from here?  

Carole Freeman: And this, this reminds me of a topic. It came up something that Benny Darso. Said that stands out the most of my interview with him episode, one of the past episodes, I don't remember the number, but he talked about how, and I, you know, talking with a lot of comics, we always feel like everything's unfair and why did that person get that?

I mean, and then your, your story is a really good example of that, where you're like, you're lightning in a bottle and you, you won when you, you know, even you said like, maybe I wasn't quite ready at that level, you know? And so you know, what, what advice do you have about like.

You know, timing and comedy and like the, the fairness of it all and, you know, how somebody accelerates really quickly versus somebody else who's working really hard and feels like it's unfair.

what fatherly advice do you have for young comics?  

Kermet Apio: Well, I'm not, I'm not the, the best person that is mainly because to me it's just about perseverance. And that's something I don't, I don't really have, I'm not, I'm not persistent . I I, I remember one time we were a bunch of comics. Were talking about auditioning right?

For, for like acting parts and stuff, you know, and, and, and, or even, even, we were even talking about some comedy auditions you had to do not in front of an audience. The kind of when you had to do, when you had to do jokes in front of just three people. Mm-hmm. And we're talking about auditions and everybody was saying about how hard it is and it's everything.

And I said, and it's even harder for me because I agree with the people who think I shouldn't get the part. I literally agree with those people at the table, like, Oh, you're not that good. And I said, and I said, so at least you guys feel like you should have it. Right. And that was kind of half joking, but really truly what I feel so.

And I've seen, by the way, and I've seen plenty of people who varying levels of deserving it, got to, got to certain. Parts of their career be just because they work just because they showed up and they were there and and on that night where? You know, most of us decided to stay home and watch something on TV.

They went, they went to some horrible open mic or they went to, they went to some kind of, you know, some kind of thing that will help them along. They got out of the house and did it. And so that to me, the perseverance is it. I remember one time. So this is, we're going back to the early nineties. There was a comic who was kind of barely headlining, you know, wasn't headlining the clubs in Seattle was headlining triple runs, but not really in the clubs yet.

Well, he got, he got evening at the improv. And a bunch of comics are kind of, kind of bitching. They're kind of like, you know, how's he get it? You know, blah, blah, blah. He's not even a headlining, blah, blah, blah. And we're all sitting around. And I remember another comic who was at the time a veteran. I was like an open miker.

And the other comic said, you know why? He's gone to L. A. four times to audition for it. How many of you have gone down to L. A. on your own dime, four times to audition for a show? Any of you? Anybody here? He goes, we're all sitting around a table bitching. He's going down to LA. He's meeting people. He spends hundreds of dollars every time he goes down there.

And you know what? He got a national TV show and he deserves it. Because he's been auditioning for them and every time they told him that's not quite the set, you know, take this out and put something else in there, blah, blah, blah. And, and, you know, back then you have to send videotapes. Well, they even think that the air is not going to watch your VHS video.

They're not, you got to be in front of them. So he would, he would adjust the set, change something and he would just do it at like an open mic at the underground or something. He'd work a five minute set, work a five minute set, fly down to L. A. Yeah, then the third time he went down, he said, they said, Yeah, we like this set, we'll book you.

So, so, this idea that somehow, oh, he's getting opportunities, that we're funnier, or I'm funnier, or they're funnier, whatever. It doesn't matter, because he went, he did it, he did what it took at the time. And that's, and that's why like, you know, these, these comics who are yeah, we could mock them because they're putting up a video clip every single day or every other day and, and just, you know, they're kind of spinning wheels, but you know what?

All of a sudden they're going to have a ton of followers. They're going to get into the algorithm. They're going to be seen by a lot of people. Who are we to say that, well, they're not that funny. It doesn't matter. It really, it really doesn't. And then the other thing to that point is that worrying about what other people get, man, it's a great way to waste a lot of your time and energy.

You know? I mean, this thing we do, it's fun. It's hard, it's crazy, and it's nice that other people are going through it with us. You know what I mean? When, when comics sit around and, and listen to each other, it helps. It helps when someone, when I say, man, this booker, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And they go, yep, same thing.

I get it. I understand. That's nice. But the fact is, worrying about them being more successful or doing better than me, it's It just wastes so much time, right? It really does. And, and, and, you know, because the fact is there's a ton of comics who are great human beings who are brilliantly funny and who work really hard, who have made it.

So I'm good with that. If a few people, I. I think maybe, you know, shouldn't have gone that far. I don't care. Cause some really great people have succeeded, you know, and, and so, so yeah. So I, I just feel like, you know, it, whatever you do, if it, if it succeeds, great, congrats, even if you hate my guts and I hate yours, congrats, do your thing.

Because for me, it doesn't help me to hate you. It just, cause then I sit down and write a joke. And if I'm thinking about you, I'm not writing that joke.  

tip: stretch yourself

Carole Freeman: I love that. That's so great. And I, I think what I'm a lesson I'm taking from. The examples you've given Kermit is that push yourself by putting yourself in positions that make you stretch and grow as a comic that it sounds like those were some really big growth moments for you was when you had an opportunity to do something that was beyond your skillset.

And so you took that as an opportunity to. Push yourself and expand.  

Kermet Apio: Yeah. And, and, I mean, and believe me, I got lucky. It wasn't like I, it wasn't like it was my plan, right? I didn't, I didn't know I was going to make the finals in the competition. I hadn't made the semis the two previous years. So I had no expectation I was going to make the finals, but it happened.

And then I, and then I, I had no expectation to win and that happened. So I kind of had to fill the shoes. So it wasn't like I, you know, work. Hard and created the opportunity. The opportunity sort of got thrown in my face, , and it's like if you, if you wanna take these gigs that pay more money than I'm MCing, you might wanna write the, that extra 15 minutes of material pretty, pretty quickly.

So yeah, it was, it was basically if an opportunity is given. You know, try and make the most of it. And that part I got lucky. So yeah, perseverance. And it's funny, like I said, it's funny for me to say perseverance is important. And I'm not a very perseverant person.  

Carole Freeman: Well, you didn't give up. You took you, I mean, maybe you don't see that, but I see the perseverance and.

So what, so now walk us through the, the TV stuff, the TV gigs, right? Because that used to be the ultimate goal of a comedian was to get a, you know, get on TV and that really isn't the goal or the, the end, end all be all anymore. So what was it like being, you know, being on those shows?  

Tell us about being on TV

Kermet Apio: Well, it was, it was incredible because first of all, put those on your resume.

Right. In 92, Two I think it was 92. I got both evening at the improv and star search on my resume and what what was amazing is the same Set on that tape got me corporate work because they look at they look at the five minute set and they go He's pretty good. But look he's been on national TV and you're right at the time.

That was a very big deal so then I started getting corporate work and learning how to do that and then the other part of it that was amazing was Working TV is different And I learned a lot when I when I first went to star search I brought an outfit that the costume designer went, why, why, why would you want to wear this on TV?

Like, I don't, I don't know. I thought it was a cool outfit.


Carole Freeman: Well, what were you were still in your twenties at that time, right? Or  

Kermet Apio: yes. Oh, I was 20, 23 maybe. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And I just didn't know. And, and then, and the other thing when they, when they. You know, obviously they say, don't look at the camera. They started teaching me like, don't play to the camera, right?

Not only do you not want to look at the camera, don't play it as if, oh, this camera's on. I'm going to kind of shift this way. Play like you do to the audience, and then the cameras capture that, right? And that seems, it seems simple and it seems silly, but when you're on stage doing your first two TV shows, it's something you need to figure out.

You know and so yeah, there's a lot of these lessons were like working in front of cameras is very different, right? And, and the other thing you learn when you're working on, on TV shows and, and, and record yourself is that when you think you're going too slow. Slow down a little bit from that because, because what we do in the clubs is fast for television, fast.

And, and and I remember years ago when Ellen DeGeneres came to Giggles in Seattle and I went and watched her because she was one of my favorites and I watched her. And I, and I was like, wow, she's talking so slow for a club comic, but then you watch her standup sets and it doesn't seem like she's talking to slow, but it's the exact same pace, but she would keep that same pace in the clubs because she didn't want to start rushing because then when she did TV, it would look too rushed.

Right. So there were things like that where it was, it was invaluable. I was 23 and learning lessons about working in front of a camera. It was amazing. Hmm.


Carole Freeman: And is that similar to the, when you're working in. Theaters or arenas that you also have to slow down your delivery.  

tip: adjusting delivery for a theater performance

Kermet Apio: Yes. When you're doing theaters, when you think about the farthest person from you, so the, so the person on the balcony, the sound has to reach them and then their laugh has to reach you now, look, you're not going to hear their laugh, but the theoretical, let them let things play back and forth.

I, I talk, you laugh. It comes to me. I talk again. And whereas in the clubs there, everybody's within 20 feet of you. Right. That's a different, you know, and so, yes, it was, it was very valuable to learn that lesson about, about how to work certain venues. And you'd be surprised when you slow down in the theater, all of a sudden, you're like, Oh, I'm doing way better than I normally would in this venue.

And it's only because the audience, when they feel like their laugh is going to be stepped on, they stop laughing. Oh, I'm sorry. They laugh quicker. They laugh and end because they know you're going to start again. Okay. If you let them laugh. And then you start, man, they're, they're just going to laugh. Like, you know, they're going to let it go naturally.

Carole Freeman: And that's the best, right? That laughter wave.


Kermet Apio: Yeah.  

Carole Freeman: Did you surf a lot when you were in Hawaii? Is that a stupid question?  

Kermet Apio: No, not at all. Not at all. I I did up until a certain age. And then once I got into kind of sports, I didn't as much cause it's So once I really, and I was, I was big time in the sports.

So when I did go to the beach, I would there we go. Okay.  

Carole Freeman: There you go. Cause that's what it feels like for me, like writing the wave of the laughter. It's that union of the comic and the audience and you get in the right unison and then it just, I've never surfed, but it just feels like that's probably what it feels like.

Kermet Apio: No, it really is. Especially, especially in the bigger venues in the, in theaters like that. Absolutely. Okay.  

Carole Freeman: Oh, where, where, what next? What, what now when I talked with Myles Weber, he was talking about getting his dry bar comedy special and how that was like something he'd wanted for a really long time.

And then he experienced this like post. Success depression after that. Did you have those where like you had these big highs in your career or did you just keep, keep moving up Mount Everest in your career?  

more career highlights

Kermet Apio: Yeah, that's kind of how it goes for me. I, I'm it's not cause, cause I did, I did pretty well on the dry bar thing.

I, you know, I mean, there's. There's a couple of clips with, you know, quite a few hits, like, you know 12 million or whatever, but it wasn't like I had this major, like I wasn't selling out venues in a certain town, right? But I did notice that if I was working at a club in that town, there would usually be a certain amount of people that came up and said, we've seen you on Dry Bar, we wanted to see you here.

But it's not like You know like, like Brad Upton's heads, huge, huge success with dry bar. And and I'm so happy for him. That guy works harder than any comic I know, and he's brilliantly funny and he's a great guy. So so no, I never really had that now. Now granted, part of me, part of it is because I don't really pursue it on that level.

I just don't, I don't know how. But it's helped me a lot and I and it has built fans for me in really a lot of markets Really? I there are so many markets where people recognize me from dry war And it's been great because you know, they said this is gonna happen. I was one of the first The first batch of comics they did and they said, Oh, we're going to do this and we're going to buy Facebook ads.

We're going to do this. And, and we were laughing like, okay, good luck with that. You're going to buy some Facebook ads and get millions of views. Okay. You know, like we were, and they, they did it, they, they made it happen. I, so hats off to them and, and, and many was very thankful about it, but not nothing like that for me.

Look, I don't, I don't. Get bummed when the, when the sign curve comes back down. It's just about how do I get it to swing back up again, just because I've been, I've been around long enough, like 30 years, you pretty much see all the ups and downs and I've had moments in my career where I thought, Oh, is this it?

Am I done? You know, am I going to have to start putting out resumes because man, it's slowing down a lot. And, and so. When you survive enough of those curves, you just kind of go, all right, don't, don't let it beat you up too much. Just kind of keep doing what's what's offered. You know what I mean? Like, even if, even if these, these corporate gigs or these, whatever are stopped using you, I know someone down the street who's going to have me, is going to give me stage time if I want like 10 minutes at their, at their, at their produce show.

Right. And so I, so I can go down there. See people I like, be around familiar people, do 10 minutes and don't feel the pressure of a corporate gig where they're paying you so much money, I gotta be brilliant, and, and just remember, like, oh yeah, that's what I love about comedy, 10 minutes in front of 50 people having a good time, that's, that's the best, right, you just, where you can just walk into a cool little venue and, And just kind of remember why you do it.

So yeah, so I don't want to get me too down just because I've been around this long. So even look, if it ends tomorrow, Carole, it's been a good run, man. You know what I mean? I quit, I quit in May of 91. So I, so, so I just passed 32 years as my only job. Is that right? Oh my gosh. So, so if it ends tomorrow.

You know, I mean, it's, it's been a heck of a run. I did not think in May of 91 that it was going to go 32 years to be honest. I, I thought it would be like my backpacking through Europe, you know, I do it for a couple of years and then I, then I'd grow up at 25, 27 and, and be able to say I was a comedian, you know, so, so I don't want you to get me too down.

Carole Freeman: I sure hope it doesn't end tomorrow. Cause that means this show was the end of your career.  

The end of kermet's career?

Kermet Apio: Well, there's some things I'm planning to say. That's going to get me canceled. So  

Carole Freeman: finally we get to see the real Kermet. I just, so I love what you said there too. Cause I was going to, you, you naturally asked a question.

I was thinking just some advice about like when you have those highs. And you think, and then, well, during the low periods where you're like, okay, what's going on? I love your approach that you're like, you just go do something. It's an easy gig for you, but just fills you up that you know that you're gonna get that like feeling of like, okay, no, I still got it.

So finding those, those those gigs that just fill you up, the, you know, a little small thing that just shows you No, no, I still got it. I can, I can crush it and get that feeling of like, just keep, keep going.  

tip: what wastes your time and what makes you better

Kermet Apio: Don't stop. You know, a long time ago I had a headliner tell me one time he said. He said, one of the biggest things to figure out in comedy is what wastes your time and what makes you better.

And he said, because a lot of times those two things look the same. And I was like, Oh my gosh. Right. So, so if you think. Like like my scenario where I said if you just go down and do 10 minutes on somebody's on a friend's show It might just be like I'm doing 50 bucks for no money But at that moment, man, I really needed that.

I really needed to just try some new stuff Or work on something that I've been working on that in my corporate show. I haven't been able to put enough Effort into because you know corporate stuff you can't really work on the new material And so why don't I go down to this, you know? So so a 10 minute gig for free might be just what I need at that moment, right?

Whereas at other times other 10 minute shows it may not be you know what I mean? So so it's always constantly having to recognize what waste my time so like I said earlier worrying about other people waste my time and and you know worried because this booker is not using me anymore that waste my time.

But, but, but then there are things that if I do this, is this going to help me get better tomorrow or, or is it just going to, am I, am I treading water and wasting time here? And man, that, that really stuck with me. And I still haven't figured it out. Like I still will do something and go, ah, I probably shouldn't have done that.

Or say something to, you know, or, or get in some, get in some argument on Facebook that I was like, ah, why did I do that? That completely wasted my time.

Carole Freeman: So what are the, some of the major pivots you've been, you know, you've been through so many seasons in comedy.

What are some of the major pivots that you've seen in the scene?

or that you've had to adjust to versus, you know, comedy back in the nineties versus. Comedy now.  

Kermet Apio: Well, so comedy back in the 90s had way more money, like I said, but also comedy now has way more power.

Like I said, comics have more individual power because you can find followers without, without agents and producers, right? Now they still help. It helps to have an agent. It helps to have a producer, but ultimately now the agents will find you if you have followers. So, so, so there's less money, but more power now.

And then the other pivot that I think is absolutely great. Is the, is the diversity of comedy you know, back in the nineties, I actually had a club owner tell me that he says, he said, I want to have one black guy every six weeks and it keeps everybody off my ass. That's what he said, like, and you look at his roster and it'd be for four weeks of white guys, right?

Nothing wrong with white guys. It's very different. I saw a lot of women get out of comedy who are very, very funny. Just what they had to go through at the time, right? I mean, I don't know how many times I've, I've heard clever and club managers say to a female comic, ah, that's just how he is. Yeah, but that's not right.

That's, I mean, that's just maybe, maybe stop it. Maybe don't let them do that, you know? And, and so. Nowadays, if, if, if someone, someone books a bunch of shows that, that are all male people notice it, people, it gets talked about and, and that's, that to me is a good thing is that you see now, I mean, look, there was a time I think it was before COVID where the biggest draws were Amy Schumer.

Dave Chappelle, Kevin Hart you know what I mean? It's like some of the biggest draws in comedy were either minority or women. And it was just an incredible thing, right? I mean and it's made comedy better because I'm hearing voices and perspectives that I didn't used to hear. They just weren't in comedy.

And, and now, man, I hear so many different ways of looking at the world and it's made comedy better. So that's one of the, that's one of the pivots, I think. And by the way, I will say this too. We still have a long way to go and I get that comedy still very misogynistic and it's it's You know, absolutely We still have a long way to go But I want people to know that I've been around long enough to see that it has come a long long way it is it is great to see what's happening in comedy because now there are women in comedy that Would have had to quit just, just by things they had to go through and things they had to deal with and where they were generally scared to walk into a comedy club.

And that broke my heart at the time. And so, so to see that change now is absolutely amazing as well. And I I'm glad that I lasted long enough to see this.

Carole Freeman: Do you have any fun? Terrible show, bomb stories.

Kermet Bombing Story

Kermet Apio: I, I I've had, oh, I had  

Carole Freeman: never bombed. Kermet's killed every time he's ever performed it.

Kermet Apio: No way. I, yeah, I had one where I was doing a college gig. And it, those can be tough when they're in noon, you know, the, the, the lunch college gates can be tough because you're standing in the cafeteria and maybe some people have come to see you, but most have not.

And and I, you know, I just didn't know how to, how to deal with it. Right. And so I was 20, I think this time, Oh, this was right after I quit my day job. So I was like 22 or 20, yeah, 22. And Oh my God, this is embarrassing. I used to do a joke about I used to joke about Barry Manilow music, and I don't remember what the joke is, but it was probably really bad, and and so I was joking about Barry Manilow, and there were these, there were these black students at this one table, who were just not listening, they were just, they were just talking to each other really loud, and, And, and, but I'm just doing my thing to almost nobody.

Right. Maybe like maybe there's eight people listening. The rest of the cafeteria is either eating, talking, or studying in groups. I'm like, I'm literally interrupting them. So there's these black students there. And I did my little Barry Manilow joke. And as one, and the one kid from that table goes, Barry White.

And I went, yes, he is, sir. Which I thought was hilarious. Right. And, and, and this guy now wants to fight me. Oh yeah. And so he's coming up and say to his friend, I'm like, I'm going to get killed. His friends were kind of stopping him and everything, but they were barking at me too. They go, Oh, you racist. You racist.

They're like, no, I was making a joke. Cause I said, Barry Maddow, he said, Barry White. And I said, yes, he is. And I thought, I thought I was making a funny joke. And so it just got really bad. Like the people who. The people who booked me, they kind of came up to say, you know what? You're, you're, you're done.

You're done.

Probably good. So I walked with them to the student offices and they literally were like, you need, you need to go to your car. You need to go like, and, and, and they weren't wrong. These guys were going to find me. And so they, so I, they kind of walked me to this door and I went out to my rent a car and I took off.

It was like, yeah, it was really bad. It was. And, and the funny thing was I, I was thinking, Oh, this is a funny joke, but to who Kermit, who's going to laugh at this joke when there's hardly anybody is listening to you in order to, in order to do something like that to an audience member, you have to have other people on your side.

You can't be alone and make that joke because now, yes, you look like a racist. And yeah, so that, that was one I'll never forget because I just thought I'm being hilarious right now. That's a funny line, but it wasn't at that moment. Yeah, but really, I would never forget the, these people coming up. So his friends are here and the people, the, the, the student activities, people are right here.

And I'll never forget this. You're done. You need, you need to go. You're done. And they're like, they're like trying to get me to walk off stage.  

Carole Freeman: Did you get the check before you left though?  

Kermet Apio: I did, that was the other thing too. I called my college agent. Look, I just want to let you know what happened.

Like, and I said, I'll still pay you the commission for it, but I don't think we're going to get this check, but I will pay you your commission. And they wound up paying. I was very surprised. They wound up paying. So, I guess I had done like 20, 20 minutes, you know, and so I guess they thought, well, that's enough of a show then  

Carole Freeman: gigs like that, that a baffle me of like, like, why do they think that's a good environment to put a comedy show on?

And there's so many examples of that, of like, Hey, let's just do a comedy show in this thing that isn't conducive, you know, to all the things that make a comedy show work, but they just keep. Happening and they're so rough for comics, but I'm sure they're learning opportunities

Kermet Apio: in the college market. One of the reasons is because if they don't spend the budget, they don't get it next year.

So there really is like, okay, we can't, we can't get the we can't get the theater on this night that we wanted to show. Okay. Let's do something during the day. Right. And the thing is, if you have like, let's say you have like a a band, that's not really an interactive band, right. That doesn't need people to sing along or whatever.

That'd be great. You put them in the corner of one area. People come listen and if you're, if you're studying over here, they can play their music, you know, it's not as bad, but, but they go, Oh, we could bring in a comedian that we won't have to have all the, all the bands set up. We will just, it just have that one mic and we're ready to go.

And, and then we can spend that money and we don't have it. So I would get a lot of these gigs towards the end of the year. I would get like April, May college gigs because they just had to pay. They have to get rid of it, you know but then, but then the ones that aren't doing that. Yeah, you're right.

There's no excuse for that. If you're going to have comedy, try and make it work.  

Carole Freeman: Well, I think it's, it's fun. Cause it's people that enjoy comedy will book that like they think, oh, I'd love to see a comedian, but they're so clueless about. All the different nuances of what makes a show work, you know, the low ceilings, the low light, the, you know, little bit of inebriation in the crowd, you know, like those things are important too.

Yeah. For a lot of shows to work.


Kermet Apio: Yeah. And then, and in corporate gigs, you know, Having the comedian after they're done eating, people don't realize it's, and I've had, I've had pushback on that to the point now where I just say, okay, but just let, just let you know, you, you'll know that I'm trying hard and you'll know that you saw me do well.

So, and the thing you saw me at, they weren't all eating at the same time. So just to let you know, because I've had people say like, no, it's going to be great. Oh, okay. You think when people are eating that they're going to make loud laughing noises and and it's weird because they might like your jokes, but they're not going to laugh while they're eating.

They're eating, right? And also eating is conversational. You hanging out with people at an event, you're eating, you're having conversations. It's not, it's not conducive to, I'm going to listen to everything about that guy's life while I eat. You know, it's not, and yet, and yet still people push back and okay.

Carole Freeman: Hard to laugh with a mouthful of food too. I, I showed up once at a a gig and it was you know, they had monthly shows there and for whatever reason, this one month they decided to have a band. Before the comedy show. And so we get there and everybody's dancing and up and having a great time. And then, and then we're like, Oh, this is not going to go well.

Cause nobody's going to want to now sit down and be quiet and not move and listen to comedians. It's like, do it the other way around. Yeah.

Comedy first, then have the band afterwards.  

Kermet Apio: We we did we rolled into the Cat's Paw in Bozeman, Montana. I'll never forget this. And the, the club owner's there during the day, and we just checked in, said, we're here.

And you know, because you, you would always come into the venue, say hi, and then head to the hotel. So we come in and we're talking to the owner. He goes, Oh, it's gonna be great tonight. It's gonna be packed. I said, Oh, that's wonderful. He goes, Yeah, we're doing 10 cent beer. Oh boy. Oh no. No, that's not good for comedy.

Do that for music, you know? Oh my God, Carole. It was, I told, I told the, the, the feature act. I go, I go, look, this will be one of the hardest gigs you ever do. He goes, you think so? I think it'd be fun, man. They're gonna be, they're gonna be having fun drinking. I go. Not a 10 cents. You cannot. I said, I promise you this will be one of the hardest things you ever do, but just stay up there.

Just talk. As long as nobody's like threatening violence. Just know that you're doing well, if, if, if, if nobody's attacking you, you're having a good show. He goes, he went up and it was so loud. You couldn't hear him through the mic. Oh wow. You couldn't hear him. And so, and so when he got done, he just looked frazzled, right?

Even with my warnings, he was still, he just looked frazzled. So the guy goes up to introduce me and he's coming off stage the features coming off stage. And I, and I said, Hey, if this makes you feel any better, I got to do twice as much time as you. Cause you had to do a half an hour. I have to be up there for an hour in front of the loudest screaming.

And, and like. And so what I was doing, what I decided to do was like, I'm just going to find those few people. So I, I said, I said, all right, is anybody listening to comedy at this point and that kind of point? And I, so I just do jokes towards them and make them laugh. And it was so loud in there. I had to scream into the mic for an hour.

But it turned out not being an hour because two fights broke out in the room And luckily nobody could hear me so nobody was mad at my jokes They they were just two fights broke out. And so the owner comes up to the stage She goes you can wrap it up whatever you want, you know, it's up to you You don't you don't have to stay up there and I went okay I said how about five more minutes and he goes great.

And so so I said, all right for the five of you listening I'm going to do the big finale right now, you know, and I saw the five of them kind of clapping like, you know, and so I did about 40, 45 because it got, it got crazy in there. It was like insane. And and yeah, it just, why would you think 10 cent beer night would work for comedy?

And he was so excited. Oh, it's going to be packed in here tonight. Oh.  

Carole Freeman: Oh my gosh. Did, was that the last 10 cent beer night or did they?

Kermet Apio: Well, I called trouble the next morning. I go, Hey man, they're doing a promotion. I don't think it really works for comedy. So, so. I don't know for music, but I know for comedy, Trouble said, don't, don't do that. And the owner was like, yeah, you're right. It did not go well.  

Carole Freeman: Go good. Glad I was mutually agreed upon.

Cause sometimes the owner's like, no, it's great. We're going to do it again. Right. Right.  

Kermet Apio: We were packed. Yeah.  

Carole Freeman: So I promised at the beginning, I was going to find out you've performed in 47 States,

which three states have you not performed in?  

Kermet Apio: Okay, the two up northeast New Hampshire and Vermont and then West Virginia.

Okay. And I, I ran into a comic who I hadn't seen in years, right? And. And he he said, by the way, did you ever get all 50 states? And I said, I said, nah, I think I'm at the time I was at 46. I hadn't, I hadn't been to Maine yet. And and I said, nah, I think I'm at 46 and he goes, oh, cool. You're going to try.

And I said, eh, you know, I, I, I don't know if I want to rush out to, to West Virginia just to, you know, and he goes, can I tell you something? He goes, that's the best way to look at it. He goes, you know, I got all 50 and I went, oh, congratulations. And he goes, yeah. And you know what? No one cares. Kermit. Nobody cares.

I started laughing. He goes, he goes, it's a novelty. Like, you know, it'll be like someone might ask you how many seats from the, Oh, I performed at all. Like, Oh, that's really cool. And he goes, and that's it. That's the conversation.  

Carole Freeman: It's not like making it in just for laughs magazine where then everybody's booking you on everything like, Oh, he did 50 dates now. Let's open up the books for him.


Kermet Apio: Yeah, exactly. And he was like, he was like, Kermit, you're from Hawaii. So you go there all the time. I had to book a show to lose money to get 50. And all I get out of the conversation now is, Oh, cool. You did 50. That's nice. You know, and it just, It just really sat in my head.

I thought, okay, there's no rush. I don't need to, if they, if they happen, they happen, but I'm not gonna, I'm not gonna chase West Virginia because, because he's right. No one, no one really cares that much. I mean, they do. It's, it's nice. It's cool, but it's cool for about three seconds. And then it's just, all right.

Let's talk about something else, you know,  

Carole Freeman: Oh, that's, that's really funny. Right? Nope. Yeah. Nope. Well, and it fits well with your like, yeah, I'm just not that I'm ambitious and pursuing goals. So it's perfect.  

Kermet Apio: It does kind of fit my character. I never thought of that.  

Carole Freeman: Actually, I want to not do 50 cause then that would be discordant with my persona.

Kermet Apio: Yeah, that would, that would almost be an accomplishment. That's that doesn't sit well with me. I don't wear that well.


Carole Freeman: Oh, that's great. Well, anything else along your journey that you I feel like would be interesting to share or provide some, some insights or tips into this crazy skill that we're all working on.

TIP: where to get comedy advice

Kermet Apio: Well, the main tip I would give is to look for advice from people way more successful than me. That would be my first tip, but, but I would also say this, so I don't really I don't really give comics. Advice because I want to be that guy who sits in the back and that tells every comic what they should do But I will say this.

I love talking about comedy and I really enjoy it and I've had comics come up to me and Say like hey, what'd you think of the set or you know, or? Can I pick your brain about something or Hey, I'm starting to get offered these kind of gigs like corporate or cruise ship. Do you have any advice? I love talking about comedy.

So you know, I, the fact that I'm not giving people advice that shows doesn't mean I'm not approachable about it. I enjoy talking about it. So if I have a tip, it would be, it would be that it would be that, that. You know, some comics enjoy chatting about comedy. We, you know, we're in this because it's a passion, right?

Nobody gets into comedy at first to be, to be a millionaire, right? It's really about like, it's fun to do. You meet people who are weird, just like you and you kind of like being around it and And you like, and you like making strangers crack up. It's a, it's a beautiful feeling when you make total strangers laugh at something you say about your life.

So we all share this passion, but so I would say like, if, if you have a question or if you have a concern or you have something that you want to get advice on, ask, and some headliners won't, some headliners, they don't want to be bothered with things. But there are many of us that we love talking about it.

We love talking about comedy. And, and, and so that w that would be my, my main tip is that there are resources. There are people willing to help when you work with comics. You can, you can learn a lot from them especially the offstage stuff, the stuff that's sort of harder to figure out, you know, on stage, we can, we can figure out our own way and how we, how we build the show, how we build our act, but offstage, man, you can never tell if you're making the right decision.

I should say never, but there are a lot of times where you can't tell if you're making the right decision or if you're saying the right thing. So, so yeah, yeah. Look, look for advice because. Man, I, I think about so much advice I've gotten over the years, and they've saved me a lot of time, right? Because I would think, oh man, if I had to learn that lesson on my own, that would have taken a while and some lumps, you know?

So so yeah, especially, especially me. If you ever want to talk about comedy, people, people can reach out. Or anything. I, I, I do love having those conversations.  

Carole Freeman: Especially if they bring you pie, right?


Kermet Apio: Well, if you bring me a pie, you get comedy conversation on a foot rub too.

Carole Freeman: I thought of one other question I meant to ask you as well, too. So we kind of asked the closer and then we're going to go back and do a little bonus one here.

What's your writing process like?

So, you know, when you come up with a premise or an idea, all the way to being a solid tight joke, what's the process like for you?


Kermet Apio: Let me say first that my writing process is not one that people should use. It's really not smart. It's so basically. I have a premise in my head. Maybe I jot down like a two or three word premise about it. Maybe I don't, maybe I just keep it in my head and let it bounce around. And then one night I'll take it up on stage and riff on it.

Like I'll bring it up and see what comes out because I noticed that I could, I used to write a bunch of stuff on page, try it all. And it just sucked. Maybe one line was decent. And then I would just tag it because the lines are so bad. I would just try and tag it and those would get laughs. Ed. And so I think is my brain like most functional when I'm on stage, you know, so that's what I'll do.

I'll come up with an idea. Like I'll say, I'll think, okay, this if I said this, you know, to somebody or somebody said this to me, and then I reacted this way. Okay. That's the premise. Then I go on stage and say, you know what happened? I was in, I was in this and this happened. And I say that, see if I can come up with anything.

And if I can't move on to the next thing, and I'll do that for maybe three or four times and then write it down and then start jotting down like, okay, this has a thing. This has a thing. And it was a way to keep me from wasting the time of writing a page full of punchlines that all suck. Right. So I'll find different angles that can work as angles, not as specific punchline, but as angles like, okay, when I talked about this premise, when I went this way, did they follow me on that?

Did they like that? I mean, the punchline wasn't great, but at least. Does that have, does that have the meaning that I need? Right? Or when I turned it this way and moved it there, did they like that? So then that's when I start writing it down and then you flesh out the things. And I should say this process is months.

It is really too long. I need to do this every damn day, but, but I will, a bit will sit. In my head for a while, a few weeks, a month maybe, and then it'll be tried a little bit somewhere in the middle, just messing with it, and then it'll be written down, and then I'll start trying to form it as a bit. Then I start, okay, so this angle works.

This punchline works. Okay. So where do we go from here? Do the tags come here or do they go there? Where, what's going to happen with the bit? So this is months down the road. So, like I said, I don't recommend it. I really recommend jotting down the idea and writing some parameters or writing some jokes immediately.

But for me, it was just, I felt like I was wasting time. So I go on stage first.  

Carole Freeman: I don't think there's any right or wrong answer. It's figuring out what works for you. And so that's my intention here is to ask, remember to ask people what their process is like, and so that, you know, younger comics can kind of play around with different things and figure out what works for them.

Cause I know in the beginning. I wrote everything out word for word and rehearsed and practiced. And then the feedback I'd get from more veteran comics was like, you sound too rehearsed. You sound like you're in a play or something like that. And I'm like, well, how do I undo that? And part of it was just more stage time.

And then I kind of do what you do now is that I'll have an idea and I'll maybe write a few things, but I'll go up and just kind of riffing on it. And I find that's a better way for me, at least. It actually getting to memorize the joke and the flow more than trying to rehearse a script and then perform it.

Kermet Apio: yes, yes, that's a good way to put it. That's exactly right. I want to have it to where I'm telling, I'm telling this story and it works this way, but I don't get that when I just sit there and scribble, I don't, it just, it becomes like an essay I wrote about this premise. Right. Ah, that's a great way to put it.

That's, that's how I look at it is that I want it to be. A conversational thing that once I take it to paper, then I write it conversationally because I've heard it said out of my mouth and, and, and that, that, then I can hear like, does this sound like a bit or does it sound like I'm talking about something?

Carole Freeman: Yeah. Well, and then there's tools now that will transcribe it. You said, so I'll use that. What I said, and I'll plug it into this software and then it will type it out for me.

Saves a lot of time. Yeah. And then go back in and figure out the things, but you know, maybe in 10 more years, maybe my process will change as well too.

Kermet Apio: No, but I like the way you say that. Cause I think that's why I've done it this way because it finds, it finds a more conversational tone, which, and also my natural humorous reaction to something. Right. Cause maybe when I'm drawing down the page, maybe I'm writing a comedic reaction or what I think a comedian would say here.

Right. But when I'm just talking about on stage without a real, like a bunch of punch lines, then I'm, then I'm kind of having to be me and finding, finding the punch lines. Right. So I, I liked the way you said that. I think that that kind of does explain why I might do it that way.  

Carole Freeman: Yeah. Well, anything else in closing?

It's been such a pleasure having you here, Kermet.  

Kermet Apio: I, I, I've been, I've had a great time, and I, I, thanks for letting me ramble.  

Carole Freeman: Oh, no problem. What's your, I forgot your ikerm?  

Kermet Apio: Oh, the website is I got, I I got that in like the nineties. I know. It looks like it.

Carole Freeman: Yeah. Everyone go check out his website and you'll be transported back to 1994.

Right Top of the line website. I love it. i show dates and can order v VHS tape of his performances and .  

Kermet Apio: And and by the way, the and on the social media, everything is Kermet Apio like, okay. That name is always available when I sign up for social media.  

Carole Freeman: Is I your first name is very unique.

Do you have a fun story of how your mom?  

Kermet Apio: Oh, she just does. She didn't like the way Kermit was pronounced. She didn't like the pronunciation. So so she spelled it with an E cause she liked Kermet better. It was, it was, it is a misspelling. Nobody spells it that way, but, but she liked. She liked that spelling.

Carole Freeman: All right. We'll check him out, follow him on all the, all the socials. And again, thank you so much for being here. This has been great. So much value you've given to me and to all of our audience members. Thank you everyone for being here and watching and listening, and we'll see you all next time.

Bye now, have fun getting good.

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