Kurt Braunohler, 38, has done stand-up for 10 years, comedy for 15 years. After gaining notoriety for his stunt where he hired skywriter to write, “How do I land?”, Kurt has been on the up and up, releasing a comedy special sharing the name of the skywritten message as well as raising money to send goats and chickens to families in Africa in his web series Roustabout. You can donate here.
We hear you have a possible talk show coming along called “Gettin Some Strange.” Can you tell us about that?
Well it’s just a pilot, you know. And with pilots you never know whats gonna happen so who knows whats gonna happen with “Gettin’ Some Strange” but the pilot was all about absurd news, weird news. So it was me hosting behind a desk, talking about weird news and making jokes about it, I loved it. It was awesome.
And this was news that actually happened, correct?
Yes, all real stuff.
What, if anything frustrates you about the TV business?
Well, most of it, I’d say. It’s a very tough business to be in. And the fact that the amount of work you have to do just to get the pilot and then the amount of work you have to do just to get it to series and then the luck that you have to have that people like the series and that it just doesn't get buried in thousands of other TV shows that are out there. You gotta be a bettin' man.
Do some of those frustrations translate to the stand-up comedy industry?
I think stand-up is a lot more merit based. Like if you're good at standup, you can just show that to people and they'll be like “oh you're good at stand-up and you can do these things.” Theres still a certain level of bullshit that you have to go through, but if you do it long enough, you will succeed (if your funny). It's really about being able to dedicate 15 or 20 years to it.
Was there ever an adjustment period when it comes to speaking in front of large audiences?
People always get nervous. The only times now that I get nervous are late night spots—they can be nerve-racking sometimes. My first late night spot was Conan and I was definitely nervous before walking out. Your just like standing behind a curtain and thats when it all comes to you. Just waiting to hear your name and they pull open the curtain. At the point I was just walking out and was like “oh I’m gonna have fun” and then you start doing it and it's fun.
How did you hear of Heifer International to start the idea for Roustabout?
My writing partner Scotty Landess was the one who was like “we should do it for charity and send it to Africa.” I thought it was a good idea, looked it up and learned more about what Heifer does, and I thought it was very cool that they help create a sustainable economy for a family. This is the gift that keeps giving in a cool way. I was very behind that. Comedy Central already had a relationship with Heifer, so it was an easy match. One goat and two chickens for a family is like the magic number, because once you have that you have eggs, milk, butter, cheese, yogurt, and you can sell all that stuff as well as feed your family with it. So it puts them on the road to caring for themselves.
So how does the average joe donate to the cause here?
If you watch any of the Roustabout videos, at the end of the videos there’s a link to Heifer [to be seen on comedycentral.com and youtube.com).
So at the end of the series, it turns out that you still need $30,000, so do you plan to still raise that money?
Well actually we continued to raise money, and we got up to $35,000 [out of $50,000 goal]. So we’re only 15,000 dollars away from making it. We’re hoping that people, when they watch the series, will continue to donate and we can make it to $50,000.
Where do your insecurities lie when it comes to your own craft?
Recently what I’ve been working on is providing additional layers to jokes, that are not just funny, but there is also a kind of idea or reason behind them. A lot of people can listen to some of my earlier standup and think its just silly. But I hate the word “silly” because a lot of those jokes I put a lot of thought into. But I don’t like silly and so I want to have multiple levels with my jokes.
So does that come with injecting social commentary perhaps?
It's really just about truthfulness, I think there’s a truth there that resonates with people.
We hear that you are an ordained minister. When and why did you become an ordained minister?
That was back when I was 20 years old, I just heard you could send $5 to this church and they would make you an ordained minister and you could legally marry people. And I was like “fuck it I’ll do that.” Then I started marrying my friends actually, in like 2003 or so.
Speaking of marriage I hear you tied the knot?
Yeah, in September.
Are there any trials and tribulations?
I think with any relationship your always evolving, you're always working at it, you know? It is weird to hear, when I’m talking about being married on stage, there’s always some guy that’s like “bad mooove.” Then I’m just like “Are you really that unhappy? Then get a fucking divorce. Why are you so mad about getting married? You can stop being married any time you want.”
Any dating advice for schlubs like us?
Take them somewhere they wouldn’t expect. No college dude has taken a girl out to a nice dinner—but maybe he can’t afford a nice dinner. What about something cheap and romantic like getting a bottle of wine and bringing her out to the lake and building a fire for her and maybe some food too. Make it a really romantic night, and do it with confidence—thats all you need to do. Confidence—you just need to fake it until you have it for real.