Joey Dougherty is 17 and has been doing stand-up for about a year now. He's a junior at Roman Catholic High School for Boys in Philadelphia. He's got a joke about that: "I go to an all-boys catholic high school and there's a zero percent of getting laid. But a one hundred percent chance of getting a high-five."
How and why did you get into stand-up in the first place?
I've just been into it since I was little. I remember when I was seven or eight and looking at it and being amazed at, really enjoying it. But I always just put it out of my mind, like "oh yeah, that's not me. How could I end up there?". The actual thought of me being able to do it was, I don't know, I always knew that I wanted to do it, but it was more about location than anything because I went to a school that was downtown. And during this entire time when I got into high school just daydreaming about it a lot and I started looking up open mics and since I started to know the city more and more, the world became smaller to me. So, it's not out of my reach now.
And Philly's not too big a city that-
Yeah, that you can't get around. It was just like "oh, it's right there? It's not in a whole different world? It's just right down the street? I guess I'll check this out." But I think I just for fun would write, I was writing comedy but it was just awful, like I'm sure anyone that starts.
What you do now is a lot of one-liners, were you always writing like that?
When I first started trying to write, I went for long stories or my thoughts on something. But I realized that no one wants to hear my thoughts on something because I'm 17. Nobody's wants to hear a 17 year-old's opinion on anything. So I'm aware of that and if you boil down comedy to anything, it's saying silly things. So I just kind of started writing one-liners because I don't want to have a long set-up for something that's not going to work. I want it to go, "is it going to work, yes, is it not going to work, no."
You want the immediate reaction.
Yes. I want it now and that's it.
You said when you were younger you were always watching stand-up, who were you watching?
My first favorite comic, the first one where I knew the name, was Lewis Black. Which is really weird because I don't really follow politics at all now and I'm not even political, but its just about how he can be talking about anything and he's funny. And then I started paying attention to Dave Attell more. And when I really started to write, I saw a documentary on comedy, The Comedians of Comedy. When I saw that documentary I said, "ok, I'm going to start writing", and I saw that when I was 15. That movie pretty much started me to think "ok, these guys sound like normal people", they did it, why can't I?
How do you work something new into your set?
This is a problem that I have. I always try to do one new joke every time I'm on stage. Which gets really hard. And if you're going to do it at an open mic where they want to see improvements, it's kind of hard, because no one's going to notice an extra ten seconds. So if that's how long your jokes are then they're not gonna take the time to go "oh he did all of this, he did all of his religion stuff", they're not going to notice the extra 10 seconds that you worked on. And you're pumped that that actually worked. That's how small it is, so, don't write one-liners.
Do your parents and friends know that you're doing stand-up?
I tried to keep it a secret from my parents. But they knew I was coming down here, because I told them "ok, well, I'm coming down here, but I'm just going to watch" and the first couple of times that's what I was doing. Then I went on a week before Thanksgiving, and it came up at the Thanksgiving table with my entire family. And they found out eventually. I think I was 2-3 months in before they found out.
Have they seen you?
Do they want to?
I don't care if anyone else sees me, but I don't want my parents to.
Do you have problems getting into clubs because of your age?
Not here (Helium) because I called ahead of time and made sure it was ok, but usually if you're just polite about it, it's ok. I went in to it thinking I don't want to be the kid that's funny at the lunch table, that was my goal. I don't want to look like that kid.
What do you want to do when you graduate from school?
I don't know. Continue to do this. I might go to community [college] and transfer into Temple for advertising. But I'm not that good of a student, just average. So college sounds like a good idea and I definitely want to pursue learning. But I think I want my major to be advertising or writing. The only problem is I'm not good at thinking up stories, I'm only good at thinking up jokes.