From Vince Vaughn films to “Weeds,” Comedian Bret Ernst has been around the block
In the mid-Aughts, acclaimed actor and comedian Vince Vaughn took to Ernst and invited him to perform in the “Wild West Comedy Show: 30 Days & 30 Nights – Hollywood to the Heartland.” The prestigious month-long variety tour featured Vaughn, Ernst and three other rising comedians. Designed to capture the ethos of the old Wild West Shows, the troupe performed thirty shows in thirty separate cities over thirty consecutive nights. Racking over 6,000 miles to complete the tour, the event was later turned into a feature film that debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2006 and opened in the U.S. in early 2008.
In 2010, Ernst received his own half-hour “Comedy Central Presents” special and hosted the Oxygen series “Love Games: Bad Girls Need Love Too.” Bret has also made frequent appearances on the widely loved Showtime series “Weeds” and guest starred on “CSI: NY.” His standup has landed him on the “Late Late Show,” Comedy Central’s “Premium Blend,” BET’s “One Mic Stand,” Showtime’s “Comics Without Borders” and many other programs.
I had the opportunity to speak with Bret Ernst in anticipation of his forthcoming Dayton residency:
When did you first start performing stand-up comedy?
April 28, 1997 – The Comedy Zone in Miami –Brett Ernst
You played football at C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University. Did your comedic nature ever clash with the inherently serious sport? Did you find playing football was complementary or discordant to your stand-up? Did your humor ever get you in trouble?
Not at all. The locker room was the best place to crack jokes. Same with team meetings, bus rides, and even during the game. I loved taunting players by making fun of them and the best is when you get your own teammates to laugh. I actually started developing my comedy skills by telling “mama jokes” with my other teammates. That’s what I miss about football the most – my teammates.
By the way, cracking jokes only works when the team wins. Playing football helps you when you step into the real world. It teaches you how to work hard without making excuses. You get an understanding that you win some and you lose some and you will always live to see another day. It also teaches you how to act when you win and how to deal with it when you lose … although I’m the type of guy that hates losing more than I love winning.
My humor did get me in a lot of trouble with teachers and coaches. I was always running extra laps or sitting in the principal’s office. I lived in the principal’s office – you could always find me there. That’s actually the working title of my next special, “Principal’s Office.” –BE
You starred on “Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show” and received your own “Comedy Central Presents” special. How did those opportunities arise?
When you live in L.A. or New York, opportunity is always around every corner. I used to perform at this place called Dublin’s on Tuesday nights in L.A. and it was a legendary room at the time. Everybody in Hollywood would come to these shows and Vince used to frequent the club a lot. One of his best friends (fellow co-star of the movie “Ahmed Ahmed”), and later one of mine, ran the show and introduced us. Vince told me he dug my stuff and we became friends. When Vince came up with the concept of “The Wild West” movie, he pretty much knew who he wanted to have in it and I was one of them. The “Comedy Central Presents” was offered to me through the network. –BE
You were born in New Jersey, went to high school in South Florida, returned to the northeast for college and now live in Los Angeles. Is there a certain ethos to your humor shaped by time spent in varied locales?
Definitely. I went to fifteen schools growing up and one high school. Since I moved around a lot, I was always the new kid, so it helped me learn to talk quick. I also picked up on the accents of the different places, mostly New Jersey and Florida, which is why I have this watered-down Jersey accent. –BE
Do you have any Dayton or Ohio-centric jokes prepared for your show at Dayton Funny Bone? Along with your standard routine, do you ever prepare specific jokes for the cities in which you perform?
Well, I will be getting married in Ohio this year, so I guess that means I have some Ohio jokes. I don’t really prepare specific material for the city I perform in. Everybody’s the same and people all experience the same douche bags no matter where you live! –BE
What are you plans for the future?
To keep doing what I love, keep being with the ones I love and stay happy! –BE
Bret Ernst will perform on Jan. 24-27 at the Funny Bone Comedy Club and Restaurant, 88 Plum Street, Suite 200 at The Greene. For more information, visit breternstlive.com.
Reach DCP freelance writer Leo DeLuca at LeoDeluca@daytoncitypaper.com