June 2018 - Make 'Em Laugh: Greg's Comedy Basement
Skater, punk, future doctor, the original silly boy, comedian, Greg Ziomek wears many different hats. He’s lived in different places in the United States but calls Albuquerque home. He’s been a stand-up comedian for just under 2 years, and now he produces two of Albuquerque’s most popular shows. On Tuesday nights Greg, along with local comedian and silly boy in his own right Anthony Joseph Martinez, hosts the Tuesday Homie Hangout at O'Neill's in Nob Hill, and every other week Greg hosts a special secret show that you have to be his friend to find out about.
For this interview Greg shows up looking clean shaven and well-kempt, a handsome young man, whom others have said has a passing resemblance to Superman’s alter ego Clark Kent but with fewer muscles. He’s absolutely someone who is easy to talk to, so after we both grabbed some beverages the questions begin flowing.
So Greg what made you decide to jump into stand-up?
I was fortunate to be raised around comedy and humorous people. We’d always be watching classics from the Marx Brothers to Monty Python to Mel Brooks. I’d stay up late with my siblings and watch those stand-up shows that would play after midnight. My parents finally got cable one day and having access to Comedy Central let me see an even bigger variety of comedy styles. I especially loved Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn and the way the comics interacted with the audiences and each other. They had interesting insights to share and they always had so much fun doing their thing. It took a long time before I realized that “hey, maybe I could do that or at least give it a shot, right?” I eventually went online and found that Albuquerque had a handful of comedy open mics and a solid community of people involved in running it. After a few months of writing and getting the nerve to sign up, I finally went up at the Robot Lazer Kitten open mic at Back Alley Draft House. I was so nervous and bad, but I was hooked anyway.
What made you decide to start producing shows in addition to performing?
I had some experience organizing shows when I was involved in the punk/hardcore scene where you often had to make your own fun. When I started producing comedy shows, it was mostly done due to the scarcity of opportunities to perform outside of the open mic circuit. I had helped Anthony J Martinez with a couple of shows he hosted in his living room and figured, shoot, that was real dang fun and I’ve got some space to do this at my place, let’s try something weird. I’ve come across several great opportunities to work on other shows since then.
What makes a good DIY show?
For me, a DIY show is worthless and unsustainable without a welcoming atmosphere. The rest comes together with time. The show I host requires people to be packed into a sort of strange and small space. If you’re a complete stranger and feel uncomfortable, uncool, unwanted, etc, how are you supposed to hang out and have a good time? That’s always in the back of my mind during my shows and even those that I attend.
What brought about the nickname “Silly Boy?”
There’s a bunch of stupid things that I can’t seem to outgrow. Like, I say “like” and “stoked” way more than someone 10 years younger than me does. I own a lot of stickers and put them on things. I still go skateboarding and chill with the skate park kids. Describing me as a “silly boy” is the nicest way to capture that vibe.
What are your goals going forward, in regards to comedy?
I want to work on different ways to delivery funny ideas. Stand-up can be exhausting, so having other outlets would be great so I stay in touch with being funny when I need a few days off from stand-up. I just haven’t really messed around with those things very much. Hoping to get on that this summer! Long long term would be to eventually get good enough to have comedy as my primary source of income. I have a hard time maintaining focus on any one thing, so I’ll probably still be doing other things. Who knows?
Any advice for people wanting to start either as a comedian or who would like to host shows at their business or even their home?
It takes a lot of work to do this, but the work is toward doing the most fun thing I can think of doing. Also, failure and success can occur so fast. If you can endure the failures and learn from them, you’ll get more in the success column. Columns are also important. I refuse to explain further.
Where are some good places to see you perform?
Open mics I frequent the most are Back Alley, Boese Bros, Red Door, and now O’Niell’s. I regularly do sets at Rio Bravo Brewing in town and the Santa Fe Brewery in Santa Fe.