Bryan Cook is a comedian from Maine who made his way to LA to fulfill his comedy dreams. The former musician is now the host of “Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction.” He currently writes for “Fashion Police” and if there’s anything you should know about him it’s that he HATES Seattle and LOVES Portland. But, if you’d like to know more, and we know you do, keep reading! He’s a cool guy with a real punk/rock/comedy vibe going. Enjoy this one with Mr. Cook!
Serial Optimist: Hello Bryan! Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. First, when was the last time you visited your family and what did you do?
Bryan Cook: My pleasure! Well, the last time I visited my family was at Christmas, so I guess what I did was “Tolerate Christmas.”
SO: What was life like with your family growing up in Maine? Were you a little interested in comedy at that time in your life? What kinds of comedy were you watching?
Bryan: I had a good home life, and Maine is… boring, but nice. My earliest comedy memories were taping standup sets on my Walkman off the TV. But we didn’t have cable, so I didn’t have access to Carlin specials or anything. I had to make due with Star Search. Dark days. Other than that, anything with Bill Murray and/or John Candy. I think my comedy balls descended when I discovered Caddyshack.
SO: I think a lot of people would credit Caddyshack. So, what was the biggest event that made you want to be a comedian instead of, oh, I don’t know a chef? Bryan (the) Cook?
Bryan: I don’t know if there was one particular event, per se. I always wanted to do standup, but I went into music first. What finally forced me into comedy was losing a rehearsal space (or should I say, getting kicked out because the “artists” next door made noise complaints) and having nowhere to rehearse my band at the time. It sucked. A lot. But comedy is working out really well, so I guess I should thank the people who complained. I’m not going to though. Chris and Kate: you can SERIOUSLY go fuck yourselves.
Fan Fiction With Derek Sheen
SO: Why make the move to Seattle and then LA?
Bryan: I moved to Seattle on a whim. Long story short, right after college I had a job lined up playing drums on a cruise ship in Spain, but it fell through at the last minute. My friend was moving to Seattle, and I had nothing better to do, other than “live with my parents” and “curse the heavens.” 12 years later, I moved to LA because I hated Seattle, and I guess 12 years is long enough to live somewhere you despise. Like, a lot. Seattle can also seriously go fuck itself, too. (Also I moved here to write for Joan River’s TV show, “Fashion Police”, but don’t let that detract from how much I hated Seattle.)
SO: Music seems to have been pretty big in your life. Moving on to something else that’s big in your life, about what time did you start “Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction?” Can you explain what the show is about?
Bryan: I started it about a year ago in Seattle, but it never really took off there, mostly because of how much Seattle is a terrible city that I hate. I did it there a few times, and then it really got its legs after last year’s Bridgetown Comedy Festival in Portland, which is an amazing fest in a city that I love, and everyone should go visit, but please don’t move there if you live in Seattle. Stay in Seattle with the other miserable idiots and rot. What was my point? Oh, I love Portland and will someday claim to be from there.
The show involves 10 comics writing and performing erotic fan fiction stories. Half of them write in advance, on any subject, and the other half are forced to come up with pieces based upon audience suggestions. They have about 30 minutes to write backstage, and the audience can suggest anything except the following: Star Wars, Star Trek, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Lord of the Rings. They’ve been done to death. Oh, and “Golden Girls.” Only I can write “Golden Girls.” Because it’s my show and I make the rules. (Seriously, those bitches are mine.)
SO: Seattle is a no go and “Golden Girls” are yours. Love it. What was your reasoning behind creating the show? Was there some void you felt you needed to fill for this type of comedy? Why choose NerdMelt Theater as the venue? What can you tell us about the upcoming show?
Bryan: It was just a dumb idea I had after my friend Travis Vogt read some “Cars” erotic fan fiction at a show (and bombed. Really hard.) I wanted to create an environment where people like him were welcome. Also, it’s funny to make cartoon characters fuck. NerdMelt was by far the most obvious choice, due to their sway in the comedy world, and the word “nerd” in the title. The upcoming show will involve Kyle Kinane, which should be all anyone needs to know. He’s one of the funniest comedians, and hands down one of the best competitors I’ve had. I think this will be his 5th appearance.
SO: Did you ever think the show would get so popular and have so many great guests willing to make up these stories? Which guest surprised you the most with the direction of how they told their story?
Bryan: I knew the idea had legs, but I was surprised by how quickly it took off. I’m doing it every month in LA, and also in at least one other city (Portland, SF, NYC, Austin, New Orleans have all been great, and Chicago and Boston are in the works.) And yeah, it’s been amazing to get such great guests. Bobcat Goldthwait was a particular thrill, as he’s always been a hero of mine. Literally since I was about 10.
The surprising ones are definitely when people draw absolutely dreadful suggestions, and manage to make them hilarious. Andy Wood once drew Trail of Tears, and Emily Heller just got stuck with Florence Nightingale in NYC. Both emerged victorious!
SO: “Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction” will be a podcast soon. Will it be recorded when the show is live or will it be separate with a bunch of funny people in a room? Did you want to make it a podcast so that more people can enjoy it if they can’t make it to a live show? When can we expect to listen to it?
Bryan: Yeah, it’s just the live show. The plan is to put out one round per week. I have every LA show and most of the road shows recorded.
I’m hoping the podcast will help get people out to the live shows, but also what I really like about it is showcasing a ton of comedians all over the country in a unique way. I don’t think there’s another podcast that does anything like it: record live shows with (mostly) local comics in so many cities all over the country.
And it should be out soon. I’ve been saying that for a while, but this time it’s true. SOON!
SO: COOL! To switch things up a bit, how interested in fashion are you? Is that why you write for Joan Rivers’ “Fashion Police?” How did this job come about for you? Have you gotten a chance to talk with the comedy legend?
Bryan: My interest level in fashion is literally 0. You start to have opinions by default after you write for 30+ episodes of a fashion TV show, but to me the focus of the show is making fun of celebrities. And yes, we meet with Joan every week, which was absolutely terrifying at first. Now I love it.
SO: Lastly, a couple of lasts. What was the last thing you said that made yourself crack up? And the last thing you saw that made you cry?
Bryan: I went through this phase of making the jerkiest blanket statements I could think of a few weeks ago on Twitter. Things like “Graffiti artists are the rollergirls of the art world.” And “Anyone in a band should kill themselves.” I think it’s safe to say no one laughed as hard at them as I did.
Ian Karmel, who is probably the best CEFF competitor, had me absolutely balling onstage with his ‘Chris Angel: Mindfreak’ fan fiction in Portland a few months back. Uncontrollable, ugly cry face.
SO: Thanks Bryan!
SO Note: That’s Bryan! You can see him every month at NerdMelt Theater in LA in the Nerdist Showroom with Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction. The upcoming show is 4/16 at 9pm! Order tickets @BryanCooking to get any updates from him or to see some funny tweets.! Follow him on twitter