Jeff Maurer
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Jeff Maurer

Washington, D.C., Washington, D.C., United States

Washington, D.C., Washington, D.C., United States
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"A Night to Decide DC's Funniest Feds"

John Quirk said he was absolutely terrified his first time. "I still couldn’t tell you what I said that night. I was blinded by the spotlight and vaguely remember hearing chuckles emerging from the darkness." The stand-up comedian has gotten past his fear. He is at the Arlington Cinema ‘N’ Drafthouse to perform in front of a sold-out room in the Finals of D.C.’s Funniest Fed contest.

The doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the combination club/movie theater begins to fill with a diverse adult crowd wanting to get a good seat for the show. Several of the six contestants are here with family members, friends and coworkers. Before the show begins, the movie screen displays the photos and names of the comedians and the agencies they work for in the federal government. The mood is festive and the beer is flowing.

Veteran political satirist Will Durst warms up the audience and acts as the emcee. When he asks for a show of hands to see who works for the federal government, not surprisingly, about half the hands go up, prompting Durst to remark, "Oh, a lovely group of civil servants." The San Francisco-based comedian said, "My comedy is for people who read or know someone who does," adding "I like D.C. because of what I do."

Producer Naomi Johnson came up with the concept in 2003 while she was working for the State Department. "People were always so excited when they found out that I did stand-up," said Johnson. The Alexandria resident who has had a life-long love of comedy suspected there was an audience that would enjoy smart, clean comedy. And with 300,000 federal employees between D.C., Maryland and Virginia, she was confident the talent was there. "It took me a long time to get up the courage to do it … it’s a big financial risk." In 2007 Johnson who works for the Department of Homeland Security did the first contest and sold out.

This is the second time Johnson has produced the event. One major change is that there are two winners. "Novice comics were getting squashed out by comics with more experience so I redesigned this year so we’d have a novice winner and an experienced winner." It was important for Johnson to make it fair for the newer comics. "If they have the courage to try … we should give them a chance," she said.
Doug Hecox started doing stand-up as a way to meet women while he was at the University of Wyoming. The D.C. resident jokes that he’s now "too old for cougars and too young to be a sugar daddy." When he’s not working at F.H.W.A. or telling jokes, Hecox teaches journalism at American University. In his set he noted, "People in Baltimore hate being called Baltimorons … I really feel sorry for people in Tampa."
Shahryar Rizvi works for the U.S. Census. The Laurel, Md. resident was encouraged to enter a comedy contest in college; he performed in front of 800 people and won third place. "I come from a far away place. We don’t have surprise birthday parties. We have surprise weddings. Surprise, surprise, this is your wife."

Jeff Maurer of Vienna did so badly the first time he performed for an audience, "my hand was literally shaking." The E.P.A. employee joked about the tricks men use to cover up pre-mature baldness and observed, "If the guy is 20 and bald, let the guy have a drink."

"It’s easy to tell a joke at a party," said Kevin Blackerby of Hyattsville, Md. The Smithsonian employee who is new to comedy took a class at the D.C. Improv to help ease him into the scary transition of performing on stage and said he gets his material everywhere: "If God wants to leave America, let him go."
During her few minutes on stage, Kate Taylor, the only female and one of the "newbie" contenders, joked about moving to D.C. from Utah. Taylor who works for the U.S. Senate made fun of her challenges being "a conservative Republican Mormon among millions of Democrats."

The more experienced of the novice comedians, Arlington resident John Quirk acknowledged that doing stand-up has gotten easier with each time. In his set, the former Army captain described Facebook as "a Google map for stalkers." Quirk who works in the U.S. Senate has honed his comedic skills at Ri Ra in Clarendon where he hosts the open mic comedy sessions every Wednesday. In an e-mail, he wrote, "It’s cheesy to say but I think you grow as a person by putting yourself in new situations."

Part of the proceeds from the event are donated to Fisher House, a nonprofit helping military families. Johnson presented a check for $1,000 to Andrew Kayton, donations coordinator at Fisher House. Kayton also served as one of the judges, along with Dave Nuttycombe, a comedy writer and John Xereas, a comedy booker.
The two winners, Jeff Maurer and John Quirk, received top rankings from the judges and the audience vote. In an autograph to a local comedian, Will Durst wrote, "Remember the only ones still doing it are the ones who never quit." His advice for the young comedians is the same advice his father gave him, "just keep doing it." - Potomac Almanac


"Comedy in DC: Jeff Maurer"

I’ve caught Jeff Maurer at the Hotel Topaz Thursday comedy nights a few times, and one of the things that always struck me is the control in his delivery- most comedians act like they’re telling jokes, which is fine, because hey, you’re at a comedy club. Jeff sounds like he’s telling a story to his friends at the bar, which just adds to the comedic value, I think. See for yourself; I particularly recommend the “Appetizer” clip. You can catch Jeff this week opening for Mike Birbiglia at the DC Improv.


WLDC: How long have you been in DC?

Six years, non-consecutively. I moved around a lot growing up, but before DC I lived in the Norfolk, Virginia area. I move to DC the first time for college and ended up coming back for work.

WLDC: What do you do besides comedy?

I work for the Environmental Protection Agency. We were in the Simpsons movie.

WLDC: Other than the Improv, what’s your favorite place to perform in the DC area?

The Improv is great, but other good shows are at the Bethesda Hyatt and the Arlington Cinema Drafthouse. My favorite open mic is Thursday nights at Topaz hotel in Dupont Circle.

WLDC: Where’s your favorite place to watch comedy?

I like the Improv because the food and the wait staff are good even when measured by actual restaraunt standards, which makes them phenomenal according to comedy club standards. Topaz is a great place to go to see good comics in an intimate setting.

WLDC: Who’s your favorite local comic? Who do you make it a point to get out and see?

This is a tricky question because there are a bunch of people I could name, and there will be some hurt feelings if I give a list but leave people out. So, I’ll just settle on one name: Erin Jackson. As for the second part of your question, you don’t really ever “go see” another DC comic, because you see them all on accident all the time just by doing shows. But I always go see Patton Oswalt, Paul F. Tompkins, Todd Barry, and Jim Gaffigan when they’re in town – Oswalt and Gaffigan have DC roots.

WLDC: Who first told you you were funny?

My sister.

WLDC: Who are your influences?

The guys above: Patton Oswalt, Paul F. Tompkins, Todd Barry, and Jim Gaffigan. Some other names I would list include Brian Regan, Kathleen Madigan, Steve Martin, David Spade, Jon Stewart, Chris Rock, and Dave Attell. Of those, the ones whose styles are apparent in my style are probably Patton Oswalt, David Spade, and Jon Stewart. We’re all white guys standing in place and making fun of stuff. - We Love DC - Your Life Beyond the Capitol


Discography

Smart Setups, Stupid Punchlines (2010)

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Bio

Jeff Maurer is one of the fastest-rising comedians on the East Coast. My - I mean his - quick wit and affable personality have made me a hit with audiences of all ages.

Jeff split his childhood between Oregon, Kentucky, Washington state, and Virginia, and his diverse experiences in those places shaped my unique perspective on the world. After college and a brief stint in the Peace Corps, Jeff began performing comedy, and my sharp insights and friendly demeanor quickly earned him a reputation as a rising star in the comedy world. I was a semi-finalist on Last Comic Standing, won the Funniest Fed Contest, write a blog for the Washington Post, and have performed at clubs across the US and Europe.

Was any of the previous paragraph written in the first person? If so, then I, an objective biography writer, made a mistake. My apologies.

Jeff has performed with many of the top comedians working today, including John Oliver, Lisa Lampanelli, Mike Birbiglia, Russell Peters, Craig Robinson, Tony Rock, Bob Marley, Kathleen Madigan, Steve Byrne, Ben Bailey, Christian Finnegan, Andy Kindler, Tig Notaro, and many others. They are all my best friends.

Jeff currently resides in the Washington, DC area and travels wherever comedy takes him. His sharp wit and affable demeanor, as well as my quick insights and friendly personality, plus my affable insights, quick personality, sharp friendly, and other variations thereof, have earned him a reputation as one of the most promising young comics in the country.