Earlier this month, we got a chance to catch some time with The Beards of Comedy, a traveling comedic foursome that hit stages with some pretty epic level stand-up, with an added dash of sketch, and well whatever else they feel like tossing in there.
Beyond their fantastic facial hair, they are all gifted comedians with all the nessesesary skills to bring laughter to all the lucky audiences they entertain. Think of them as four young Santas whose present is laughter.
Wait… don't do that. Instead read this interview!
CraveOnline: Who are the Beards of Comedy? How did you all meet?
TJ: Andy Sandford, Dave Stone, TJ Young, Joe Zimmerman. We met in a competitive scrabble league in jail…all staring at an "S-H-blank-V." Some guy threw down an "A" and an "E" to spell "SHAVE" and four of us realized WE were all waiting for an "I" to spell "SHIV." We laughed so hard. Then we stabbed the guy for winning and formed the Beards.
Andy: TJ thinks we met in the jailhouse scrabble league. Truth is, Dave Stone and I played little league together, and met Joe Zimmerman and TJ Young selling hubcaps on the black market. That's how we landed in jail.
Joe: We are all brothers, and our father’s name is Beard (similar story as the Kings of Leon actually). The fact that we all have actual beards is really just a coincidence. That’s a lie of course, we met on Plenty of Fish, under “Bears seeking beards” (okay, it was Craigslist).
CraveOnline: Where does the name “Beards of Comedy” come from? Did you all have beards at that time? Did someone have to grow one? Has the “of Comedy” surname run its course after your tour?
Andy: Most of us had beards. Joe could not grow a beard yet. We waited for him to finish puberty because we all thought he was really funny. There is no foreseeable end to the tour. It is just an ongoing thing. The "of Comedy" will definitely be here to stay, because our name is sort of a parody of a hook… It doesn't mean anything to have a beard and we don't really address it in our show. It also lets people who see a poster know that we are comedians… also, we have a copyright on "Beards of Comedy" and don't want our legal fees to be in vain.
Joe: Yes, the “of Comedy” is done now. We are the last on the contract. The “of Comedy” does admittedly sound played out, but when you have a comedy tour, and you just call yourself – I don’t know – “Mustache Men"? Well… no one is gonna know you do comedy. They’ll probably think you’re a band or some sort of theatrical thing. You kind of have to call yourself “The Mustache Men of Comedy,” unless you already have a TV show and you’re famous (like the Broken Lizard guys) or if you’re from New Zealand (Flight of the Conchords).
CraveOnline: You already have a previous album (that’s 2009’s Comedy for People) How does this one distinguish itself? What is its theme?
TJ: The theme is comedy. We didn't plan out a common thread for each album to run along, but our albums, like our live show, is an amalgam of our four distinct voices/material bound by our shared comedic sensibilities. We called this one "Cardio Mix" because we wanted the Surgeon General's seal of approval.
CraveOnline: What are your favorite parts of the album? What turned out better then you expected? Any jokes that got cut?
TJ: We were all excited about this new album and didn't really know what to expect specifically. It's hard to judge how an album will be received. But, we've had a lot of great reviews so far, especially from some people/sites whose opinions we greatly respect… That feels good.
Andy: I have favorite parts from everyone's sets, but what came out better than I expected was the "Sad Song" bonus track by Joe and TJ. Plenty of stuff got cut because the lives show runs much long than the album, but I think it is a good representation of us and shows where we are all at right now in the trajectory of our careers.
CraveOnline: Whats in the future of the Beards? How long do you plan to tour as a unit? What if one of you goes his separate way, do you recruit a new beard?
Joe: We’re kind of like one of those hard core gangs, where if you leave, you get beaten to death. The only way out is jail. It’s quite a hustle.
TJ: "New Beard?" Wow. Stop trying to break us up already. We don't take kindly to that. (Remember what happened to "scrabble guy"?)
Andy: We have already exceeded how far this thing was expected to go, and we have a lot more planned for the future. It isn't a machine that will keep going beyond us, it IS us. So no new beards would ever be recruited. We aren't Van Halen or anything.
Dave: I keep trying to bring in 3 new beards. I’m tired of these a**holes.
CraveOnline: I know on your first tour you always played with one guest. Who was your favorite guest ever? Who are ‘honorary beards”?
TJ: We've had several great guests from the more famous friends of the Beards like Brian Regan and Kyle Kinane… to the plethora of talented Atlanta pals we have. My favorite guest is usually 'the next one'. I love that every show has a new friend on it that makes it unique and keeps us entertained as well.
Joe: Kyle Kinane was probably the favorite guest, and he also has a cooler beard than any of us. We would be more than happy to have him as an “honorary beard,” if he would have us. The other favorite was a surprise drop-in – Brian Regan (in Kennewick, Washington of all places). He bought us shots of Petron, and he is the best comedian ever, so we’d be more than honored if he would be an honorary Beard.
CraveOnline: Any good road stories? Tour bus issues? Strange crowds? Epic events?
TJ: We had a show once where no one at the bar collected any money at the door. So when it came time to settle up after the show, there was no door money to show for the large crowd that had been there laughing and drinking. The sole bartender tried to blame us for 'not bringing our own door guy' (which no one ever has to do, and they never told us that… so how were we to know?).
Long story short, Dave got on the phone with the bar owner and said…"well, there's 4 of us and your 1 employee here…so we're either leaving with the cash you owe us, or the door take's value in liquor… but we're leaving with something." Turns out they found enough cash to pay us after all.
Dave: One time in Chapel Hill, NC, Andy and I ate at the same diner 3 times in 12 hours, that was pretty cool.
CraveOnline: Any words to comedians looking to tour? How do you make it work? What shouldn’t you do?
Andy: We sort of got off the hook by making our "hook" a joke hook. But I personally think it's a bad idea to try and tour under the guise of an actual hook. Of course, several tours have and have been very successful, but I believe actual gimmicks are at odds with actual comedy. Start a tour because you believe in the concept of the show as a whole, and not because you think having a group of comics will give the illusion of credit… it won't. You have to have an actual good product that people want to see and talk about seeing.
CraveOnline: Are there any other mediums you guys want to jump into? Beards film? Beards TV show? Beards of Classical Music?
TJ: I'm pretty sure none of will ever be able to jump into a medium-sized anything. But yes, film, TV and sure classical music too. We've all had a few movements we'd be proud to share.
Andy: We are all open to, or are working on, whatever medium we want to tackle as long as it is comedy. I think we learned from doing sketches with our friend and amazing film maker, Matt Swinsky, that other realms of comedy can be very rewarding.
Dave: Personally, I want to get into the prescription drug market. I’d be a great spokesman for Boniva or something like that. I’ve always modeled my career after Wilford Brimley.
CraveOnline: Any parting words for our audience?
Dave: Who wants to arm wrestle?
Joe: I’m attracted to all of you, physically and emotionally.
TJ: Cardio Mix = Good BUY. This interview = Good-bye.