Clear Water Comedy features Andy Haynes at The Plus

Performing comedy since 2004, Haynes covered topics ranging from school bullies to relationships

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Photo by Rachyl Houterman

Andy Haynes began comedy around 2004 when George W. Bush was reelected. Haynes has performed on “Comedy Central,” “Conan” and “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”

The lights dimmed and the music faded until all that was visible were the shadows of people against a bluish purple-lit stage with a lone microphone and chair occupying the front of the venue.

One by one, three different comics took the stage to crack their jokes, which covered topics such as Catholicism, cats, Apple watches, break-ups and the woes of being a middle school teacher before the featured comedian made his appearance.

Los Angeles-based Andy Haynes took the stage in jeans and a plaid button down shirt. He greeted the audience in the venue area of an Eau Claire pizza joint, The Plus, Thursday evening before jumping into a long line of jokes.

Delivering jokes about airport delays, school bullies, living with depression in L.A., the complications of purchasing a ripe Avocado, relationships, Nazis, marijuana and more, Haynes used a mixture of observational and dark humor to address topics of the day.

Christian Sather of Eau Claire, said he has made attending the comedy routines every Thursday a weekly ritual for him. This was his fifth week watching one of the routines.

“His (Haynes’) ability to engage the audience and bring relevancy into the whole thing was really awesome,” Sather said. “Really trying to connect the audience and see what we’re all about, he was really professional, I could tell.”

Having to describe his own comedy, Haynes listed off a few adjectives while noting his style of humor isn’t geared toward “set-up jokes” which he said some comedians excel at.

“Somewhat observational, somewhat personal, but very problematic probably,” Haynes said. “Offensive sometimes, not meaning to be. I just talk about stuff that’s happened to me.”

Aside from deriving them from his personal experiences, developing his jokes comes from repetition, Haynes said. Attending open mics and seeing which jokes do and don’t work with the audience repeatedly, he noted, is typically how most comedians find their groove.

Having been on “Comedy Central” and having performed on late night shows such as “Conan” and “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” Haynes began comedy around the time George W. Bush was reelected in 2004. He said he wanted to try “political stuff,” and attended an open mic, thus signaling the beginning of his comedic career.

Being a comedian, although it “beats a real job,” Haynes said isn’t as simple as it seems.

“It’s hard, because comedy has come around enough, in L.A. they expect a certain kind of comedy, kind of contemporary, hip, you know?” Haynes said. “A lot of times you can tell jokes for L.A. but then you get to the ‘boonies’ and they don’t relate to you at all … So you just gotta figure out how to do multiple worlds.”

Speaking to which areas are the best to perform comedy in, Haynes noted cities with a liberal edge are typically ideal, citing Minneapolis, Minnesota and Madison, Wisconsin as some of the best cities to perform in. As for comedians he enjoys watching, Haynes said he’s a fan of Louis C.K., Bill Burr, Chelsea Peretti, Hannibal Buress, Tig Notaro, Kurt Metzger and Anparna Nancherla.

“Anybody that really talks about something that’s, like, sincere, I’m probably going to like,” Haynes said.

The routine he performed was put on by Clear Water Comedy, an Eau Claire collection of local stand-up comedians who arrange open mic events as well as shows for comedians passing through the area.

Haynes’ advice for anyone who wants to be in the creative field is to brace yourself to have no money.

“Be prepared to be poor, that’s what being an artist is,” Haynes said.

Through it all, expressing himself through comedy, Haynes said, allows him to see the funnier side of life.

“I am somebody who takes myself way too seriously,” Haynes said. “So comedy is something that kind of meters it or governs it, and I’m always so quick to be like ‘This has all this meaning,’ and realistically it’s like, ‘Life is short and you should probably be able to laugh at most of it.’”