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April 3, 2013

Comedy: Cutting off Gabriel Rutledge

Gabriel Rutledge is a quick-thinking, fast-talking, hard-working badass. He’s traveled across the country from comedy clubs to colleges, slinging jokes and leaving a trail of laughter in his wake. Since winning the Seattle International Comedy Competition, he’s gone on to appear on Comedy Central’s “Live at Gotham” and Nickelodeon’s “NickMom Night Out.” He sat down to chat with LEO about his upcoming shows at Comedy Caravan.

Gabriel Rutledge: I’m really excited to come back to Louisville, man. I travel all over the country, all of the time. But I remember being in Louisville and thinking, “Ah, this is actually a pretty hip city.” At least the part I was in. I don’t know if it’s actually downtown …

LEO: The Highlands?
GR: Yes! The Highlands.

LEO: It does also come in handy that our bars stay open until 4 a.m.
GR: Yeah, that’s a little troublesome, actually (laughs). I didn’t realize I needed that until I drank until 4, and was, like, “Yeah, somebody should’ve cut me off a couple of hours ago.”

LEO: So, who were the guys you listened to growing up?
GR: I think Mitch Hedberg was the first guy I really loved. I sound nothing like him, there are no style similarities or anything … he just showed me what a truly unique voice sounded like. He won the Seattle International Comedy Competition, which I would end up winning eventually, so that always meant a lot to me.

LEO: I’ve heard that comedians with bad childhoods become stand-ups, and comedians with happy childhoods become improvisers. Is that true?
GR: You know, there’s probably some truth to that. But the longer that I’m alive, I realize … look, 10 years ago, I would’ve told you that all comedians are messed up — but the truth is that people are messed up.

I mean, yeah, my comedy is probably a backlash from my super-religious upbringing, but there’s no abuse or neglect. But perhaps if those things had happened, I’d be going on to a higher level of comedy by now.

LEO: How long does it take you to prepare for one of your television appearances?
GR: This probably sounds bad, but I tend to prepare less than I used to, because it starts to feel like homework. I want it to sound natural coming out, not like I’m giving an oral book report. I think, when I did “Live at Gotham,” I just opened every show I did with the 10-minute set I was going to do for the show.

LEO: Do you pick older, tried-and-true material, or newer material that represents who you are now?
GR: On those things, they pretty much tell you what of your material they want you to do. It’s like, even though you wrote all of the jokes, you feel like you don’t have control of it.

LEO: Do you remember your first time onstage?
GR: Sure. I had never even been to a comedy show when I did my first open mic. I’d seen it on TV, but never actually been. I made my wife go with me, and when it was over, she said, “That was pretty good. At least it wasn’t like when you try to do karaoke.”

Gabriel Rutledge
April 4-7
Comedy Caravan
1250 Bardstown Road
comedycaravan.com
$15; various times