Thursday, August 25, 2016

Tom Rhodes - Comedy

At the age of 12, Tom Rhodes knew he wanted to be a comedian the first time he ended up on the stage at a downtown nightclub in Washington, D.C. “My family used to love seeing live stand-up comedy. One night I was wearing a Washington Redskins jacket, and the comedian grabbed me and interviewed me as if I was really one of the team’s players. I never forgot how happy the audience looked. The feeling of seeing those people laugh changed my life. It made me realize that was what I really wanted to do. I got a fake ID and started to perform at the age of 17. I never even considered doing anything else.”

Now Rhodes is a veteran of the stand-up comedy scene. He’s performed all around American and the world, including far-off realms like Cambodia, Peru and even Wales. When asked about the hardest part about becoming a professional stand-up comic, Rhodes responds, “The first ten years. It takes ten years to get good at anything. If you are in it for money you are in it for completely wrong reasons. You have to be like a samurai warrior.”

Rhodes learned early on that one secret was to relax. “When a comedian gets comfortable on stage, that’s when things change. Even a comedian with mediocre material looks better if he just looks confident and comfortable. You can speak extemporaneously.” Rhodes also learned to love to travel, since being a comic required him to hit the road as often as possible. “I had to take Greyhound buses or hitchhike,” he says. Rhodes admits that now travelling can be the worst part of his job. “Joy has left air travel in the US,” he says. “The airlines have cut costs, so you are treated like cattle.”

His unique comedic blend of insight and observation led to Rhodes being a travel writer for The Huffington Post, where his stories of far-off places and the people he meets entertain as much as they inform. “They contacted me after they heard me on Marc Maron’s podcast. The travel editor heard me talking about all of my world travel and how most of my year is doing gigs outside of the US. It doesn’t pay any money, but there’s no deadline and I can write about whatever I want.”

One topic that has changed since Rhodes first began is the legalization of cannabis in America. “It’s long overdue. It’s inevitable,” he says, “although some of the more conservative states are going to drag their feet.  I’ve heard that a recent poll showed that 59% of Americans believe it should be legal.” In states where cannabis has been legalized, local governments are already reaping the benefits. “As strapped as America is right now, you’d think they’d want to legalize weed,” Rhodes says. “The potential nationwide tax revenues alone are worth it.”

The official website of Tom Rhodes:
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Tom Rhodes at The Huffington Post:

Tom Rhodes podcast:

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