Hitting the Funny Bone of the Jersey Shore
Derek DeAngelis is a comedian and actor based out of NYC. He has hosted the award-winning online daily car news show Fast Lane Daily and performed comedy shows at House of Independents, one of our favorite local performance venues. Read below to find out more about Derek’s experiences and the advice he would offer to people who aspire to be a part of the entertainment industry!
What’s your favorite thing about performing?
Well honestly, it’s the fact of bringing joy and entertainment to people. As performers, that’s exactly what we love to do: perform. Doing that and getting the response you were hoping for, whether it’s a big laugh or an emotional response, is quite frankly like a drug. You get a performer’s high from it, and you are always pursuing it. Quite simply, I just love to do it and can’t see myself doing anything else, so it’s an endless pursuit I guess you could say. Which is a double edged sword in a way...
What’s the most memorable role you’ve ever played? Why?
Wow, this is a loaded question. I hosted an award-winning comedic daily car news show called Fast Lane Daily for eight years or so, with over 300 million views. That’s just on YouTube alone, not counting other platforms we were on. People described me as “the Jimmy Fallon of car news,” which I took as a great compliment. The show could be watched by anyone, whether you liked cars or not, because of the comedic segments, characters, and funny bits. Even though I starred on that show, it was a team effort. I am also super proud of my One Man Multimedia Show, “No Ordinary Day”, where I sold out House of Independents in Asbury Park to standing room only. That was a one man show in every aspect because I was not only the performer, but the producer, marketer, graphic designer, director--you name it, I had to do it! Don’t get me wrong, I have had some great acting roles, but those two things are probably the most profound to me, personally.
How do you prepare for a voice-over role compared for an acting role?
Voice-overs are great because you can go in the booth and it doesn’t matter what you look like. Any movement or face you need to make to get the correct voice/sound out for the character or script you’re reading, you can do. You just go with your gut instinct of what the character would sound like and hope they like it and cast you. I really love doing voice-overs, and to get a role as a voice on a major motion picture or TV show would be amazing. For an acting role, you really need to break down the script and your dialogue and ask, “Why is this character saying these things?” Empathizing with the character, even if it’s a bad person, and finding a situation that has happened to you in your personal life to help bring that character alive, relate to it, and make it more believable is very important.
Do you find the audition process stressful? How do you cope with it?
Oh man, the audition process is a crazy beast all in itself! No one really knows how crazy and stressful it is unless you’re going through it or have done it. It’s not the actual audition, per se, it’s just the amount of auditions I go to in a week. Whether it’s in the city or a self-submit, it’s just nonstop. You also don’t get paid to audition, so that money adds up--going in and out of the city on the train, taking the subway, driving to locations. I cope with it by just saying to myself that I have to do it. You simply just have to do it if you want to succeed. I always tell people, if you want to be in this business you have to be 100% in-- not 99%--be fully committed. You will fail miserably. You will get told you’re terrible and to give up. You will have the lowest lows and highest highs. But, all you can do is just keep moving forward. Period.
What’s the difference between acting and being a comedian? Which do you find more difficult?
I’m assuming you mean stand-up comedy, because many people, including me, are comedic actors, but stand-up is just a different ballgame. When acting, you’re not being you, you’re portraying a character, and usually you can get multiple takes at it, unless it’s theater. With stand-up comedy, you’re on stage and you’re just you, baring yourself in front of a bunch of strangers. If you’re not funny, they won’t laugh, bottom line. When I do stand-up, I like to bring a multimedia approach to it, whether it’s singing a parody, doing a character, interacting with a video, dancing, whatever. I have the utmost respect for the men and women who are strictly “club comics” pounding the pavement in comedy clubs and shitty bars, working on their craft. I did that for a while and realized it wasn’t for me, but, don’t get me wrong, if I get booked to do stand-up at a club or anywhere, I’m going to do it. It’s actually still the thing that scares me the most, even though I’ve done it for years.
What is your writing process when creating stand up?
If you look in the notes section of my iPhone, you’ll see just tons and tons of ideas that I come up with just throughout my everyday life. I’ll see or hear something and be like, “there’s something funny in that,” and I’ll jot it down to be reworked later. For example, I’m looking at my phone right now and see this: “What’s grosser than wrap-around toilet rugs?! It’s literally a piss-catching sponge, if you have one of those in your house, you’re an asshole…” So random, but I thought of that when I went into someone’s bathroom at a party and was just like, “Oh man, you know how much pee is in this rug?” Gross, yes, but it’s something that can be made funny later when reworked. I also do a bunch of family-related material. Coming from an Italian family, I do a whole thing about how we are like The Sopranos without the murder. I can usually find comedy in the simplest of things, and I like to challenge myself to “find the funny.”
If you could work with any other actor/comedian, who would it be?
Oh, wow. Well, I’m a huge Ben Stiller fan, probably because my style is so similar to his. I love the fact that he can be a comedic actor, but also can be serious in a role when it calls for it. That’s my wheelhouse, I’m trained in drama and I can go there, but love to do both. Other actors like Paul Rudd, Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, and Adam Sandler are so my style as well.
How do you come up with your live comedy show ideas like Derek D & Friends Who Are Funny and Asbury Park Monologues?
Shows like “No Ordinary Day” and “Derek D & Friends Who Are Funny” are basically me just saying to myself that I need to do something big and work on something I completely produce myself. It’s a huge challenge, but I enjoy challenging myself. To give you some perspective, my “No Ordinary Day” multimedia comedy show took me about 11 months to work on for just one and a half hours of show. You can imagine, it’s a ton of work! With “Asbury Park Monologues”, I just wanted to perform my monologues somewhere, and we didn’t have anything around here that did something like that, so I just said, “Okay, I’ll produce it myself.” It was a lot of work, but the first one was great, and I’m looking forward to the 2nd Annual APM’s in March!
Are any in the works of the rest of this year?
Well, besides the 2nd Annual Asbury Park Monologues, which will be in March of this upcoming year, I definitely want to do another big comedy show at some point, but it probably won’t happen in 2019. Right now, I’m really focusing on auditioning and booking as many things as possible, hopefully a long-term gig, whether it’s hosting, acting, or comedy. I’m pitching TV show ideas as well, and putting as many proverbial “coals in the fire” as I can. I also produce fun videos like the “Music Galore” series, parodies, and sketches, which helps me keep my sanity and creative juices flowing.
If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring actor/comedian/host, what would it be?
DO NOT QUIT! You will get demoralized. You will fail daily. You will be broke. You will be told it’s never going to happen. You will have people in your life try to discourage you. You will experience some of the lowest lows of your life. However, if you can weather those storms and still find a way to be positive and motivate yourself to move forward, you can do this. Yes, it’s daunting, but it can be done. Believe in yourself and your talents, and create your own stuff. If someone isn’t giving you an opportunity, you create it yourself! As I said earlier, you have to be 100% in. There is no “Plan B”, it has to be “This and only this”. If not, don’t do it.
Are you more a hot dog or a sausage person?
I do love myself a good hot dog, but being Italian, I must say I’m more of a sausage person...or should I say, “SAUSEEECH!”
Do you think you could win a hot dog eating contest?
No chance. I actually hosted an event with Joey Chestnut, and to see what that dude does is literally amazing and mind baffling at the same time. I don’t know how a human can fit that many hot dogs in their body! We had some people come on stage and join him, and I got to be in a hot dog eating contest, and I’ll just say it was a good thing we had plenty of garbage buckets on the stage. Ugh, gross.
What’s the funniest hot dog/sausage joke that you know?
What happens when you cross a hot pepper, a shovel, and a puppy? A hot, diggity dog!
If there was a hot dog named after you, what would be on it?
Well it would be called the “Derek D,” of course, and it would have diced hot cherry peppers, mustard, Land-o-Lakes yellow American cheese, oregano, and a dash of Old Bay seasoning. I’m telling you, it’s banging.
If you could pick only one condiment to use for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Oh man, even though I’m a huge mustard guy on my dogs, I use ketchup on SO MANY THINGS. So, it would have to be ketchup.