John Paul Rivera is the energetic co-host of the mideast corner open mic in Cambridge. He also happens to be one of the funniest guys on the planet. They say the cream rises to the top and John Paul will emerge at the top of any comedy scene he enters. We just happen to be lucky enough to have him here in Boston with us. Edgy enough to kill in the indie rooms and polished enough to do the same in the big rooms this young comic is one to watch for years to come.
During the day he’s a bowling pin (for real), at night he’s a comedian. This guy is living the rock and roll life style. John Paul can joke about things anyone can relate to like arachnaphobia or more niche topics like comic books or wrestling. But no matter what he’s joking about, it’s guaranteed to be the funniest stuff you’ve ever seen in your entire god damn life.
John Paul was nice enough to answer some questions for me. And even his Q&A had me cracking up.
SC: What year did you start comedy and why did you decide to take the plunge?
JPR: I started comedy on September 9th. 2009. That’s right, 09/09/09, the same day the non-hit CGI film “9” was released. When I was about 13 I started watching a lot more standup on TV and I started writing a few jokes. It’s something that sort of fell by the wayside till I was in my mid -twenties and realized that comedy was something I could use to put off seriously going to college for a while.
SC: You live with other comedians now, right? Is that the strangest living situation you’ve ever been a part of?
JPR: I live with a couple of hilarious comics right now and it’s a lot of fun, but the strangest living situation I’ve been a part of was living with a porn producer in Southern California. There was porno everywhere in that apartment!
SC: I’m a big fan of your comedy, what is your writing process like? Do you sit down and force yourself to write or do you just jot things down throughout the day? Or is it something else?
JPR: First of all congratulations on enjoying my comedy! I don’t usually sit down to write, although I know I probably should. I guess I’m more of a “jot things down” kind of guy. I used to like to write in the back of Sally O’ Brien’s when the Infinite Ensemble jazz band played.
SC: You hosted the epic open mic at ‘Grandma’s Basement’ for a while and now you co-host the open mic at the ‘Middle East’ in Cambridge. Those open mics can run long and you do such a great job hosting them all the way through. How do you keep your energy level up through that long night?
JPR: I feel like a lot of booze is usually a big part of it. I would say the key to hosting marathon open mics like that without wearing yoursef out too much is not to take the burden of the whole mic on your shoulders. Say something funny between comics if you can, but don’t feel like you have to re-warm up the crowd after every mediocre set. These people made their own bed when they decided to watch open mic comedy.
SC: Were you a big fan of comedy growing up? If so, who were a couple of your favorites?
JPR: I was a big comedy fan growing up. My mother was a standup comic in Boston when I was around 10-12, and she actually moved us out to California to try and write for TV, so I feel like I had an early exposure to standup comedy. My mom used to play an awesome Steven Wright special in the car that I’ve probably listened to 100 times. I love Dave Attell like crazy. WHen I would watch his old stuff and the show ‘Insomniac’ I was convinced he was the funniest guy on planet Earth, and I haven’t seen anyone to convince me otherwise yet.
SC: Like most comedians you also have a day job, but I gotta say, your day job looks like a lot of fun based on pictures you’ve shared on the internet. Do you have a lot of fun with that or is it a lot more down time than one might think?
JPR: For those reading this who don’t know, my day job is Bowling Pin Mascot. I dress up in a bowling pin costume and hand out free bowling passes during Red Sox homegames at Fenway Park. That job is really fun. It’s sweaty and uncomfortable, but fun. You have to deal with drunks and jerks, but the good definitely outweighs the bad! Shoutout to my BAES on the street team!
SC: We both went to community college. Did you graduate? I just want to know if I need to look at you as an elitist.
JPR: I sure didn’t! I have a feeling most guidance counselors would burst into laughter if they ever saw my college transcripts. I literally just picked classes that had interesting titles. “Oooh criminal Justice, intro to media, and….Sociology. I must be one of the only people around who was more obviously wasting his time with college than standup comedy.
SC: How far are you willing to take this?
JPR: John Cena says to “Never give up”
SC: If you have a chance to plan out your last words, what would you want them to be?
JPR: “I’m coming to fight you God…”
SC: How many shows would you say you do in a week?
JPR: I would say I usually am doing 2-4, but some weeks that number can be more like 4-6 if I’m having a good week.
SC: Who makes you laugh the most?
JPR: Funny stuff my friends say when we’re watching TV or something like that. How can people be so funny off the cuff?
SC: Is there a comedian that mentors you or are you a wild beast of comedy working your way through the scene in solitude?
JPR: I definitely think of myself as a wild and masculine beast, but I had a lot of help from comics I really admire when I was first starting out. I made it a point to introduce myself as much as possible and try to spend as much time as I could with really funny people. I would say the two people that have helped me out the most in the comedy scene are Rob Crean, and Ted Pettingell. They have really different styles, but I feel like I learned a lot from each one.
SC: Who should be featured in the next ‘Favorite Comic’?
JPR: I’m available for part 2 whenever you need me.
Want to see John Paul live? Catch him every week at the Middle East Corner Open mic with his co-host, Rob Crean. Tuesdays in Cambridge, MA, 9pm-Close.
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