Editorials — February 25, 2015 22:28 — 3 Comments

A Sandwich For Brett Hamil

I love making sandwiches. I love making sandwiches and I think I’m really good at it. I also like talking with interesting people. In this column, I make sandwiches and talk with interesting people.

Local comedy extraordinaire Brett Hamil agreed to stop by the Monarch, have a sandwich (two actually) and a chat. I made a bacon and kale cheddar melt and a smoked mozzarella and pesto number, and asked some questions. Here’s some of what Brett had to say…

On writing about the neocortex in a recent CityArts article about stand-up comedians bombing and not knowing they’re bombing:

I don’t listen to comedy podcasts anymore. I hate having to listen to people talk about the craft and technique and stuff. Maybe if it’s someone who knows their shit who I can learn something from, but not if it’s a bunch of open-mikers sitting around speculating on what works and what doesn’t. If I can pull in other disciplines like science, I try to.

On some specific science stuff:

I wrote a similar article about the Dunning-Kruger Effect, which is about how incompetent people don’t realize that they’re incompetent. One of the fatal flaws of being incompetent is not being able to assess that you’re incompetent. If you suck and you know you suck you’re gonna be alright. If you suck and you don’t know you suck then you’re really fucked.

On the application of this scientific knowledge to comedy:

The point is you need both: you need crippling self-doubt and bravado.

On being a picky eater:

I don’t hate mayo, I just avoid it. I’m not big on sauces. I don’t like ketchup either. I like horseradish and hot mustard. The only thing I really won’t eat is mushrooms. I will eat tomatoes, but I don’t prefer them. I was a super picky eater as a kid. I still have some of that, and I just can’t get rid of it.

On not eating mushrooms and eating mushrooms:

I can make myself eat just about anything, but I won’t eat mushrooms. I just don’t like them. I’ll eat psychedelic mushrooms, but that’s probably partly why I don’t like them. I used to live on a cow field, outside of St. Augustine, Florida in a single-wide trailer on reclaimed potato lands. All we had to do was drive to the end of the dirt road. I’d drop my buddy off. He’d jump out in the cow field. I’d drive around to the other end of the cow field. He’d jump back in with like a quarter of a garbage bag full of mushrooms. So we spent at least a whole summer on mushrooms, all the time.

On what he learned eating mushrooms:

I was really into Carlos Castaneda and all kinds of mystical stuff and Heraclitus…there was definitely a sense that we were doing this to expand our consciousness. We also knew fucknuts in the suburbs that were just like, “Let’s get fucked up!” There was some of that, but it was really more like we’re doing something intense and cool and not just for fun. It’s about questing and shit. We would pride ourselves on being the guys who could take a whole shitload of mushrooms and show up at the party and keep our shit together. I guess we read too much Ken Kesey. I think more than anything you learn certain attitudes to approach life and art with, a certain openness. When you’re tripping balls on mushrooms, you can think about someone you hate more than anyone else in the world, but in your mind you’re like, “I just want to talk to them and tell them and talk this out.” You approach things with this child-like sincerity that is hard to attain as an adult with bills and shit.

On my braggadocio about making really excellent sandwiches:

Small, achievable goals. Did you ever see Jiro Dreams of Sushi? That totally changed my outlook on comedy. There doesn’t need to be a lot of bells and whistles, you just need to take a simple, good thing and do it right and consistently. That movie totally affected me. Most of what he was serving was just tuna sashimi, it wasn’t some crazy firecracker roll. Remember that one guy? He wouldn’t let him cook the rice until he’d failed at it like twelve times. Comedy is a lot like that.

On his changing work ethic:

This year my resolution is to try less, but work just as hard…not always be hustling to pick up these shit gigs that don’t pay that much anyway just to say I did them. Maybe let things come to me more, or, as the case may be, not come to me. If my schedule doesn’t fill out on its own, without me making too much effort, then I’ll put that energy into other things.

On the political element in his comedy:

I think it’s just an anti-establishment impulse. It definitely informs where I’m at in comedy, in terms of the targets of satire. I’m not trying to be overtly political, it’s just another element of who I am and who everybody is.

On the Oscars:

As a comic, there’s almost nothing worse than a bad open mic. Just seeing people being funny, but it’s gone through layers of writers and producers, everything about it comedically is the fucking worst. And they’re all like “Neil Patrick Harris, he’s great.” He’s not funny. Just because he can sing and dance at the same time sometimes does not make him this massive triple threat. He’s not funny. The self-deception required to think that he’s a major cultural figure is just bonkers.

On the flotsam and jetsam of the digital self adrift on the internet:

If you want to look through my Google results to find something stupid I said or something compromising…then you have to sift through all my Google results like a fucking creep. I mean, I have a hard enough time finding a joke that I posted on the internet three weeks ago. So if I can’t find my own shit, I’m not gonna worry.

On dream jobs:

Attainable or…? It would be nice to be able to work theaters and sell out theaters. I think directing and producing would be more of a dream job…having more creative control and choices. If you act in something you have the choices of how you play the role, but if you write, produce and direct it, then you get to make a million more choices that are all of crucial importance to whether something is good or not. I think everyone that works their way up in show biz definitely wants to do those things. You’re answering to fewer people, there’s less talentless hacks clogging up everything with their shitty ideas.

On talking shop with other comedians:

I have the post-disillusionist comedy. There are people who I can talk to about it, who definitely have things to say that I want to hear. It has to be someone who is post-enthusiastic. That’s what I am: post-enthusiastiac. I’m not trying to strike a disaffected pose, it’s just I’m excited about the four things that I’m working on that are mostly not stand-up related.

On doing many different things creatively:

I have a weird lifestyle. They’re all contingent on me just making shit up. A lot of it is just self-care and priming the pump to be able to make ideas that aren’t crap.

On the sandwiches:



Caleb Thompson is a co-founding editor of The Monarch Review.


  1. Hole says:

    Bachelor life-skill,
    Life-metaphor, even:
    Whether to be the bread
    Or to get bred.
    Stay portable.

  2. Hole says:

    Does anyone ever proofread this stuff?

    “If I can pull in other disciplines like science, I try too.”

    Sandwich in some time to vet your copy.

  3. Hole says:

    Hey, Caleb, would you make me a sandwich?
    —Sure, Hole. Anytime.
    Cool. I leave the choice of the third party to you.
    —I really wish you wouldn’t do that.
    Sure, but raunchy comedy in a club is okay.
    —That’s it. No comments from you.
    —Come back one year.

Leave a Reply

The answer isn't poetry, but rather language

- Richard Kenney