Duncan Pace
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Duncan Pace

New Orleans, Louisiana, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2010

New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Established on Jan, 2010
Band Comedy Comedy



The best kept secret in music



"Do your best, be funny, and don't be a dick." That represents comedian Duncan Pace's three maxims for anyone wanting to be a part of the New Orleans comedy scene. "That's a great combination of rules. And other comedy scenes might not have 'Don't be a dick.' And they would be great comedy scenes, and there may be great comedians, but the environment would be more cut-throat."

Pace didn't have to start his career in New Orleans. He was touring the country as a member of a comedy juggling trio when the life of a stand-up comic beckoned. "A friend of mine persuaded me to do stand-up. Of course, it was always a dream, and I did okay. And once I had done okay, I was like, 'I have to try it.' So I would tour with the show, but then the people in the show - we would all do stand-up. We'd be in a town and we would go to the open mics there. So I got to do that all over the country." The more open mics he performed, the more he wanted to do. He began "transitioning" (as he put it) about four years ago out of a life of juggling into one of standing on empty stages holding a microphone.

"I had lived in New Orleans when I was off the road, but had never connected the dots of comedy." Yet when the Maryland native considered New Orleans, the fit was right. Pace liked that the comedy scene had a cooperative air, as opposed to locations where warring comedy clubs forced comics to join a side. "I like people putting on shows," he notes, referring to the open mic or comedy nights that bars and pubs host practically every night of the week. Pace performs anywhere from two to four nights per week in New Orleans. About half are open mics; the rest paid appearances. "I've done well enough that people trust me to put me on their shows."

Of course, the people Pace shares the comedy scene with make it hospital for him. He observes, "You don't have to have an extra layers of 'Are you tough enough?' or 'Are you cool enough?'" Given how much he enjoyed his life juggling on the road, a more vexing environment wouldn't have suited him. "You wouldn't believe the bliss of ten years making your living as a touring juggler with your two best friends from high school. That was my life." The show was "personality-based, and conversation-based, and improv-based, and I just got to figure who I was on stage and what was funny to me and how I could be funny." Why juggling? "It was the only athletics I could qualify for," he responds.

However much Pace enjoyed juggling, the mental gymnastics of stand-up compelled him more. "When I'm succeeding in stand-up, I feel like I'm succeeding at the most difficult performance." Why is stand-up the most elusive and challenging type of comedy? "I guess just because you're doing two things at once. You're being at best, in my point of view, you're being completely in the moment, and you're being completely prepared at the same time." Also, he's alone on stage, "I can't just look over and count on my funny friend to take it over, or... I can't come in and do a flashy trick."

Duncan Pace grew up in Maryland watching Bill Cosby and Jerry Seinfeld. He likes Robin Williams "because he is so in the moment." Like those three comedians, Pace has a happy, optimistic outlook grounded in his work. "Look I can see the darkness. I chose light." However, that doesn't mean his material lacks complexity. "If you watched my set, there would be things that reek of darkness, but I want you to feel good ultimately and I want us to have a good time, and I want laughs to happen."

"My best laughs comes from me riffing," Pace admits. The question arises about how great comics break through and reach a level separating them from peers and early incarnations of themselves. Every comic thinks about this personal breakthrough, and works towards it. Pace thinks, "There's this sort of mastery level that people get, and it's just, I think, because the talent and devotion and they just keep putting those hours in and getting in that place where there's so much transcendence that happens, and when you hit a vein even three years in, ten years in, it feels like what you assume that feels like."

Pace thinks back to seeing Robin Williams onstage, accepting an award in a non-comic situation. However, armed with a microphone in front of an audience, Williams exploded into an impromptu burst of comic energy. "I want to get to that place where I could just riff for an hour," Pace thinks, "but I just need hours and hours to get there."

Thinking about the long years of apprenticeship that stand-up comedy appears to demand, "Why does it take so much?" Pace asks rhetorically. "To know what the right choice is to make, I think, just comes from being in thousands and thousands and thousands of shows where you pick all the variables. There are so many variables. There are only a few elements, but when you add people the variables are so huge, I guess that's what I'd reduce it to." He has developed a distinct personal comic style. He likes classic material - something he learned watching Cosby. "I don't do a lot of pop-culturey stuff. Sometimes I talk about something that's going on in the moment. And even this - I have a talk show, but we don't riff about celebrities and we do our own little interior world, do it on the character of the host."

The show - Duncan's show - The Goodnight Show just wrapped its second season at Cafe Istanbul. Duncan has written and directed the show since it began in August 2012. It's given his comedy a whole another dimension, one whose roots go back to the improv comedy he employed back when juggling. Pace plans to continue working on The Goodnight Show and doing regular stand-up. "What nice is those two dreams don't really clash. In fact, I will tell you this one thing, stand-up feeds everything else. If I'm good in there, and I'm doing that right, and I'm failing at that, and trying at that, my writing is better, any performance I do is better, hosting another show is better, I think I'm better in my real life, so... that's probably part of that weird attraction too... If I'm straight there, I'm straight everywhere."

Duncan Pace will be performing at "Special Night: A Filmed Comedy Event" at The House of Blues Tuesday, July 22nd at 7:30pm. Follow Duncan Pace on Twitter @DuncanAround. For further information and a schedule of upcoming appearances, see ducanpace.wordpress.com

Posted Monday, July 21st, 2014 by Jason Raymond - NOLA Defender


Still working on that hot first release.


Feeling a bit camera shy


Currently at a loss for words...

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