Gilbert Lawand is a comedy maverick. He's been doing stand up for eight years in Atlanta and all over the country. The longtime champion of Atlanta comedy brings his hilarious perspective to gay Atlanta on Tuesday.
Under the “Comedy Gold” name, Lawand (video above) produced independent comedy shows that brought some of the now premiere comedic talent to Atlanta long before they had talk show and sitcom deals. Now it’s time to inject that magic into local gay comic Ian Aber’s free “Laugh Your Balls Off” at Cockpit.
Before the show on Tuesday night, Lawand talks with Aber about why he is a gay-adjacent comedian you will love.
When did you know you were funny and could make people laugh?
When I was 12 years old, I became obsessed with making people laugh in school. I was a real pain in the ass for all my teachers. That year, I guess it was 6th grade, I got sent to the office about once a week for various things, all of which had to do with trying to make people laugh.
Did growing up from Iraq to Warm Springs, Ga., affect your use of comedy?
Yes I definitely think so. I was born in Baghdad to Catholic parents, and then when I was 6 we moved to Warm Springs, a town of 500 people, where I grew up on a farm. There were some close-minded idiots, like there are everywhere, so I quickly developed a sort of sick, twisted ability to insult pretty much anyone at anytime.
I would do this weird mental exercise when anyone would walk into a room, I would think about how I would insult that person if we got into an argument. It was a defense mechanism. I got really good at it. I also learned that a little bit of clever self deprecation disarms people and lets you go farther and deeper into them when you turn the barrel around. I remember the insult scene in Cyrano de Bergerac and being totally amazed that you could actually use someone’s burn attempts against them.
Who were your comedic influences growing up?
Ironically, the first comic I can remember paying a great deal of attention to was Stephen Wright. I say ironically because Stephen is a one-liner comic with a deadpan delivery – nothing like me. But I remember listening to his album “I Have A Pony” and realizing the genius of how putting certain words in a particular order could be hilarious.
His jokes are so quotable too. I remember writing them down and reciting them to classmates in elementary school. Eddie Murphy’s “Raw” was also a major influence because he was superstar talent who was saying things that kids weren’t supposed to hear. I also loved Rodney Dangerfield and Brian Regan.
Whose comedy influences you now?
Rory Scovel is probably my biggest influence. He’s simply the funniest, most creative comic out there in my opinion. Kyle Kinane is amazing. As far as pure standup comedy goes, I think Kinane is probably the best and definitely the most prolific comic working today. I also love James Adomian, Jared Logan, and Ryan Singer.
In your act, you do jokes about gay people where being gay isn’t the punchline. Do you think your own experience as an outsider helps you understand the LGBT community?
Oh definitely. I used to hang out a lot at Backstreet back when it was open and had some gay and lesbian friends that I would hang out with, and the more they described their experiences growing up, the more I realized that not only were LGBT people wonderful people but I could relate – that being brown in Warm Springs back in the day must have been what it is like for gay people in general.
Describe your comedic style in 3 words.
Likeable smart ass.
Gilbert Lawand headlines ‘Laugh Your Balls Off’ comedy show on Tuesday, Nov. 12 at the Cockpit.