Brent Morin is one super talented LA comedian/actor. Along with the aforementioned things, he’s made music, plays the piano and went to film school. His high energy style helps him totally take control of the stage while performing. He’s got some great things going for him; his new show and a stellar set on “Conan.” This interview lets you get to know him better, and why wouldn’t you want to do that? We talk school hijinks, Chris D’Elia and happiness. You’ll love him and his piercing blue eyes.
Serial Optimist: Why hello Brent! We appreciate you talking to us! To get started off, what was the last movie you saw in theaters? Did you like it?
Brent Morin: The last movie I saw in the theaters was The Heat. I went to watch my boy ADAM RAY fucking kill it. Which he did! Besides that I liked the movie. I think Melissa McCarthy is amazing, [She and] Adam Ray should do a ROAD MOVIE together.
SO: Where are you from? What is your best memory of your hometown?
Brent: I grew up in a town called South Windsor, Connecticut. I loved my upbringing there. My best memories of my hometown were my crazy, psychotically hilarious friends, who seemed to care more about hurting themselves to get a laugh than studying for the SATs. Well some of them… I had a good mix of crazy dudes and sane dudes that meshed together perfectly.
I have a lot of great memories–for example: I remember in high school once I grabbed a group of my friends, ran into the main office, slammed open the Vice Principals’ office door, jumped on her desk and began singing West Side Story’s “Gotta Be Cool,” while my friends jumped on the other desk outside her office singing the same thing. Then we threw a shit ton of papers in the air and ran out. That stunt actually got me out of any detention I could’ve possibly [gotten] for the rest of the year, because everyone in that office was so entertained they couldn’t get mad. Anytime I would hear about a teacher who was mean or shitty I would grab whatever friends that were around and do something like that. Just barge into their classroom while they were teaching and begin singing and jumping around for no reason. Stupid shit. Anytime I could do any type of stunt or skit in front of the student body I would.
I would purposely embarrass myself by doing the things all students had nightmares about actually doing. Like purposely tripping over myself in the cafeteria spilling an entire tray of food on the floor in front of everyone. I would try to play it off like I was truly embarrassed as all the students laughed at me. I thought it was hilarious how some people would get that I was faking it and others wouldn’t. It was a good way to point [out] who the “MEAN AS SHIT” kids were. I loved doing stuff like that.
Although another memory that really sticks in my head is when I was a senior I would skip school OFTEN and go to the movies. I LOVED it. I would sit in an empty theatre and watch movies and daydream about making them someday. I would be there all day sometimes.
SO: Wow! Great stories! You were a rambunctious one and seemed to love putting on a show. Did you start your comedy career there? When did you know you specifically wanted to be a stand up comedian? How long have you been doing it? Is there anyone in your family that liked the idea of you becoming a comic?
Brent: I actually started doing stand-up in LA. I was in college, going to film school at the time and I remember being in my first screenwriting class, getting notes on my first writing sample. I hated the notes. All of them were too NICE. Everyone seemed scared to be honest or tell me what they really thought. It drove me nuts! I just wanted real criticism. THEN I went to The Laugh Factory as an audience member one night (because I was 18 and there was nowhere else I could go) and watched these dudes go up there and KILL. I loved it. I wanted to do it but more importantly the audience was HONEST. When something was funny they laughed. When something wasn’t funny they DIDN’T laugh. I needed that. I wanted true criticism and that was it. So the next week I did an open mic at the Laugh Factory, I BOMBED and I’ve been doing it ever since.
My family has always been supportive. I literally have the best parents ever. They support dreams and encouraged all of us to go for what we WANT to do and not do what we HAVE to do. You would think they were hippies in some artist community NOT inner city high school English teachers. I mean my house growing up was filled with the arts and creating. My older brother was a concert pianist and in college he would perform in a lot of Opera’s. So, we always had Opera singers sleeping over and singing loud as hell in the shower in the morning, waking me up… All this was going on while my little brother was downstairs practicing and crashing on the wood floor while doing “triple axels” and “double sow cows” getting ready for his next FIGURE SKATING competition. He later became a professional figure skater, but you wouldn’t guess that from the amount of times he fucking SLAMMED on to the wood floor, scaring the shit out of me while I slept. My Dad said it best: “If you go for what you love and work as hard as you possibly can to get it… Then there’s nothing more a parent can ask for.” When parents are like that it makes it easier to try and do something as ridiculous as THIS for a career…
SO: Your parents sound like sweeties, and I just sent my parents that quote. Love it. Leaving must have been hard. When did you decide it was time to move to LA? Have there been any venues you’ve wanted to perform at and finally did?
Brent: I moved to LA two weeks after I turned 18, went to film school, graduated and stayed. I always knew I was coming out here. Probably since 5th grade. I ALWAYS wanted to make movies and act and create. I just had to wait. As for places I always wanted to go up and finally did? I always wanted to be a paid regular at THE COMEDY STORE. I knew that was SUPER hard to do and would take forever but I always thought that would be the coolest feeling in the LA stand-up scene. It meant more being a paid regular there than at the other clubs. So when that finally happened it was pretty cool. That place can teach you how to take command of a room. When you’re performing at 1:15am on a Tuesday you need to find creative ways to get people to pay attention. That and bar shows helped me to be more engaging I guess.
SO: I believe you were a PA for “Conan?” What was that experience like? Have you had any particularly insightful or surprising chats with Conan O’Brien?
Brent: Working for Conan was the best classroom for comedy I could ever have. Conan was a mentor to me even though he didn’t know it. I would watch him in rehearsals as he played his guitar and listened to the sketches that the writers would bring out. He would laugh, but for the most part he would have this element of seriousness on his face while he tried to think of clever ways to make a sketch stronger or shorter or simply change it completely.
Conan actually taught me about the professionalism of comedy. That you can take it seriously and still be silly. Also the ability to admit that your idea might not be the strongest or at least best for the sketch. He truly is the definition of a comedic genius and I got to watch him every day and just learn from him.
As for any memorable chats? I guess it would have to be AFTER I left the show and I was in NYC for the NBC Upfronts. Conan was there and invited me to have drinks with him and a group of people. I sat next to him and drank 20 dollar exotic alcoholic beverages at a fancy Manhattan Hotel overlooking Central Park. 3 months prior to this I was filling Conan’s cars with gas. So you could imagine the anxiety I had going on at this time. So I drank more, I mean Conan was buying so what the hell… Either way the two of us drank and talked comedy and the business, then he asked me about how I felt or how the experience was treating me. He then gave me good advice and insight about things I didn’t know or what to expect in the future. Once again I left feeling educated.
SO: Aww, Coco! That’s a goosebumps story, what a legend and experience. Now, some people may know you from being one of Chris D’Elia’s openers. How did this relationship come about? Are you two besties? ALSO, I saw you perform once and haven’t forgotten it because there was something commanding about you. How long did it take you to build up that stage presence?
Brent: Hahaha Chris would LOVE this question. I’ve known Chris since I was 18 or 19 years old. In fact, he and a comedian named JASON COLLINGS were the first two friends I made in comedy. We met at the HAHA CAFE and immediately hit it off. They were like normal guys that I could hang with and laugh with. They reminded me of some of the friends I had growing up. Either way I remember the 3 of us would go around and play shit-hole bars, bowling alleys, hostels, etc. Chris at the time had been doing it a little over a year, Jason was about a year in, while I kind of just started. The two of them would CRUSH these shitty rooms. Not always with material either. They had that ability to take a room that wasn’t listening, or a loud bar/pub and silence it without having to belittle them or cause confrontation. They commanded the stage and I admired that. I was young and had nothing to really talk about so I would eat shit a lot or even if I thought I did well? After THEY went up? NO ONE would remember me. So at certain places I would ask to go up after them just to try and gain the experience and challenge myself. I would bomb and bomb and bomb but it made me stronger. So I guess that could also explain a huge reason why you may think “there’s something commanding” about me. The two of them are kind of like big brothers I guess. They fuck with me A LOT, even to this day, but always have my back. So yeah, Chris is one of my best friends and has been for years, so it’s kind of crazy that NOW we’re doing this sitcom together where our characters have kind of a similar relationship. Weird.
SO: It’s almost like fate that you two got to work together and to stay on the show, you’re co-starring in NBC’s TV show “Undateable” based on the book Undateable: 311 Things Guys Do That Guarantee They Won’t be Dating or Having Sex. How ready are you to take the leap into TV acting? Do you at all connect or relate with your character?
Brent: I AM excited to start TV ACTING. I mean it’s part of the reason I started doing stand up. Not necessarily for TV ACTING but acting in general. It’s A LOT of fun because two of my best friends were cast. Chris D’Elia and Rick Glassman. I guess I do relate to my character a LITTLE bit. I mean my character gets really insecure and flustered around women. I think any guy can relate to being insecure around a pretty lady at one time or another. But actually I can’t recall the last time I’ve been as flustered or insecure as my character is in the show… but honestly that’s part of the fun of playing this guy. It’s heightened versions of moments we’ve all experienced. That’s what I like about this show. It’s called UNDATEABLE… And everybody, no matter if you’re a man or a women, rich, poor, confident, hot, ugly, has felt UNDATEABLE in their own way. That’s what this show is really about. It’s not about one guy teaching a bunch of lovable losers “HOW TO DATE.” No, it’s more about learning how to be comfortable with being yourself and learning that it’s okay to be who you are. It’s more about friendship and helping each other in the process. Everybody is undateable in this show but really they’re not and that’s what becomes fun to figure out.
SO: We’re excited to see the show! Onto the serious stuff, if you had to choose one, which platform do you want to excel in more, being a stand up or being an actor?
Brent: That’s a tough one… I mean I did stand up because eventually I want to be a filmmaker, actor and producer. I felt that [it] was a good way to grow in all those regards and it has been. I didn’t plan on falling in love with stand-up this much. Although ultimately I want to act more and more and more. BUT I would ULTIMATELY want to ACT in something I’ve actually written. That’s the main goal. I want to be in the things I’ve created and then go off and work with other people and experience that. But to answer your question like a smart ass. If I had to choose one to EXCEL in I would say STAND-UP, because if I were heavily successful as a stand-up then I would be able to do any of the movies or TV shows I wanted and ultimately get to excel in both. AKA STEVE MARTIN style.
SO: This whole answer sounds good to me. What’s the one thing you want to learn about that you don’t know already?
Brent: I’m obsessed with making music so I would say that I would want to learn how to play as many instruments as I find myself interested in. I know the piano and the guitar and next I’m looking to learn the violin and then trumpet. One day I hope to be a rich, drunk, fat millionaire just playing the trumpet, naked in one of my 4 studies while my wife yells at me to cover up.
SO: What a multitalented guy you are! For the last question, do you believe someone can be eternally happy? What is something that needs to happen in your life that will get you closest to that feeling?
Brent: I think being eternally happy is like being eternally satisfied. I don’t think you ever want to be satisfied. That’s boring and lazy and basically to me says “Okay, I don’t need to live anymore.” I think it’s healthy to be down on yourself or feel shitty about what’s going on with you. It helps you do better and try different things and work harder. Not being happy adds excitement and betterment in your life.
If someone is eternally happy then they will never do something different or work hard towards something else. Why would they? THEY’RE ETERNALLY HAPPY. Why change anything you’re doing? Honestly being eternally happy couldn’t sound depressing to me. As for being HAPPY? The only advice I can give is to go for what you REALLY want in life. Fuck over thinking it. YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE!! YOLO shit. What do you have to lose? You failed? Oh well, don’t let that happen or move on. At least you won’t be thinking about it anymore. And that’s the worst, when you spend all day wondering “What if?” That’s where you get depressed and thus can’t be happy.
SO: Thanks a lot Brent! Happiness is both a simple and complex thing.