Born in Germany and raised in New York City, Joseph Rasmus is a young up and coming comedian, playwright, actor and writer. He started his stand-up comedy career whilst attending the University of North Carolina and during his time he had the opportunity to open for Lewis Black. Known for his dark, observational humour he’s spent the last few years performing stand-up in New York City bars. Luckily he is bringing his ‘Two Steps To Fame’ act to The Archway Bar in Brisbane on Friday August 11 for Bris Funny Fest.
How do you manage finding the balance between being a comedian, playwright, actor and writer?
It’s entirely a feat of time management. There are always opportunities to practice and perfect my craft. I am fairly self-motivated; attempting to spend 8-12 hours writing on any given day. I have never met anyone in the industry who is so naturally funny that they can just phone it in, nor have I ever met a successful working comic who is not spending hours meticulously perfecting every joke they tell and every piece of content they produce.
For anyone who does not know your work, can you tell the readers a bit about how you got into comedy and why you’re passionate about it?
My path to stand up started when I was about 6. I saw a production of A Christmas Carol and declared that I would play Tiny Tim. Five years later, the girl who had long held down the role finally hit puberty. I swooped in and booked what was my first sizable acting role. I had a pretty good regional theatre career as a child actor. When I got to UNC, there was an opportunity to try stand up in a student showcase. I possessed the kind of charisma and confidence only found in former child actors and serial killers so I signed up for a three-minute set. I did really well; especially considering it was my first ever attempt. From there, I started working harder and eventually got booked at small festivals and clubs.
Describe your experience opening for comedy legend Lewis Black. Was that a turning point in your career as a comedian?
The University of North Carolina has been a breeding ground for big name comics and comedy writers: Lewis, Brian Tucker (Co-Head Writer for SNL), Ali Farahnakian (The Peoples Improve Theater) and several others. A huge reason is Lewis makes a point to regularly return to Chapel Hill and offer young comics the opportunity to open for him in a concert hall. I would not call the experience a turning point, but more so a springboard.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your stand-up shows?
I have an excessively active imagination that allows me to take premise to ridiculous extremes. A lot of my writing process is starting with something rather mundane yet relatable as a jumping off point down a rabbit hole. The style of joke definitely challenges the audience but I definitely feel they enjoy and appreciate it more.
Do you think growing up in New York City has influenced your comedic style?
I was the child of military parents and I grew up in a lot of places, but New York was always the most special place I had lived. So, when I completed university and had the opportunity to choose where I would settle, it was always going to be New York. I don’t think my style was too impacted by the NYC scene, but it did accelerate my growth and development. The competition necessitates the work ethic; the hours upon hours of writing. In order to just have the opportunity to fail in New York, you have to work ten times harder than a successful person anywhere else in the world.
What kind of show do you have planned for the Brisbane crowd? What can the audience expect?
As the show’s title “Two Steps from Fame” will suggest, I spend a fair bit of time musing about fame: what it will entail, scheming to become famous quicker, reasoning that my personal pursuit of fame and fortune is actually a philanthropic endeavor. I do a little bit of music to give an insight into the writing process of my first musical, The Bipartisan. And I could scarcely call myself an American if I didn’t loudly share some of my opinions about Australia; mainly about how I DO NOT want to go to go surfing with you guys because I am not trying to get eaten by a shark. It’s about an hour long. At times, it’s quite funny. The times it’s not are probably because I’m sipping on water. And the venue is offering a fantastic $20 two hour drink package for the hour before and after the show so you really can’t beat it in terms of a Friday evening or Sunday afternoon out.
Moving towards future plans - you are filming for your first DVD comedy special, when is that due for release?
It should be out in the US and online in mid-November. If you visit my website and join my monthly email newsletter, you will be first to know when it becomes available. I’m also hoping to return to Brissy around the holidays to throw a live international release party! If you are in Brisbane and free Friday or Sunday, I highly recommend you come. I have an exceptional set prepared and would love to brighten your weekend with a few laughs!
Tickets for Joseph's show are available here.