Dave Stone is an LA-by-way-of-Atlanta comedian with a damn good biscuit recipe. Stone has been touring the country, refining his act, and slowly piecing together his career for over 10 years. In that time he’s performed on The Late Late Show, started a podcast with Kyle Kinane called The Boogie Monster, lent his voice to Squidbillies, and released a full length album titled Hogwash. I talked to Stone about his death row meal, the long, slow process of building a grassroots fan base, and why crowdfunding sucks.
Isaac Kozell: You’re becoming known as a pretty big food guy. People seem to really like your recent biscuit recipe.
Dave Stone: Yeah, that was on me and Kinane’s podcast. Initially the point was cryptozoology, ghosts, UFOs, and paranormal stuff, but it just somehow kind of devolved into a food podcast. We just kind of wind up talking about food most of the time. Since I’m a big foodie and kind of an amateur chef we talk a lot about the food I make and recipes and stuff. We jokingly talked about my biscuit recipe and I said that it was too long and detailed to give out on the podcast, but if anyone really wanted it they could email us and I would be glad to type it out and send it to them. 1200 emails later and people are still asking about that damn biscuit recipe.
IK: What is your death row meal?
DS: I’ve thought a lot about this. It would probably be from this place in Baton Rouge called Bellue’s. I’m pretty convinced that it’s the best meal I’ve ever had. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it. I’ve done the math. I’ve eaten over 30,000 meals in my life and I think I’ve narrowed it down to the best one being Bellue’s. I had crawfish étouffée, red beans and rice with tasso ham, mustard greens, and fried boudin.
IK: You just wrapped up a tour. I noticed on Twitter that you posted the stats of your tour, how many shows and cities you had done. You also included “zero agent” and “zero GoFundMe.” You’ve had a good bit of success as a comic. You’ve done TV spots. You’ve done voices on Squidbillies. Are you doing this all completely unrepresented?
DS: Absolutely. I had a manager for a while, for about 3 years. I fired her about a month ago because she wasn’t doing anything. She’s a big-time LA manager with a bunch of big clients. It’s not uncommon to be what we call out here “hip pocketed.” She signed me about three years ago. What they do is they sign someone up who’s got some upside, but maybe not doing a whole lot yet, and then they just put you in their back pocket and wait for you to do something on your own and then they capitalize on it. In three years she didn’t really do anything for me so I finally got fed up. So I’ve had a manager before, but I’ve never had an agent. In all honesty I would rather have an agent than a manager. Not to condescend, but a lot of people outside of Hollywood don’t really know what the difference is. A manager just kind of guides your career, helps you make decisions on what you should try to be focusing on, that kind of stuff. An agent will actually get you work, whether it be a booking agent who actually books you in clubs, or theatrical agent who will get you auditions. I’m not opposed to having an agent, but I guess no one is interested in representing me. I always make a point to say that. With all of my DIY touring people will say, “Oh, you’ve got somebody booking that for you?” Nope, it’s just one hundred percent me. I throw that out there to let people know it is possible to tour without the assistance of an agent. An agent would make things easier, but I’ve never had an agent, so what am I going to do, just not tour?
IK: I want to go back to the “zero GoFundMe” thing. That’s something that I personally have a beef with. If you want to go on tour, record an album, or make a special and can’t figure out how to do it on your own you shouldn’t be doing it. If you don’t treat your comedy like a business you’ll never understand the business of comedy.
DS: It perpetuates the epidemic of skipping ahead, skipping the line. Like, “I don’t want to pay my dues. I want to go on a tour, so help me go tour.” That’s not how touring works. There’s definitely an epidemic of comics touring who have no business touring. I’m not throwing shade and I don’t want to sound like an asshole, but there are guys who have 15 minutes who want to go out on tour. Good for you that you got a tour poster and actually booked some shows, but you gotta remember, at the end of the night, are the people leaving your show satisfied? Was that a good show that you put on, Mister “I’ve been doing comedy for a year-and-a-half with 12 mediocre minutes?” It takes years to get to the point where you can be a good touring comedian. You can’t skip the line.
IK: You have to invest in yourself. It’s like paying your way through college, buying a car, or starting a business. Don’t ask other people to pay your way for you. Don’t ask people to pay for your fantasy.
DS: And not to make it too much about me, but it devalues what people like me are doing. It devalues the guy who spent 10 years working the road playing shitty clubs and making almost no money to slowly, but steadily, develop a grassroots thing. I try not to throw shade directly at people, but any chance I get to throw a generic little burn like that I’ll take it.
IK: You were doing comedy in Atlanta and then made the move to LA. Did you feel you had hit a ceiling in your home scene?
DS: It was kind of a natural progression. I started in Atlanta and spent five years there. I loved every second of it. It’s a great place to start comedy. It’s like comedy college. I spent four or five years learning to do a thing and then felt that it was time to graduate and go get a job, get out in the real world and put the skill I’ve been working on to use. The thing about going to New York or LA is that every night I’m doing shows with some of the best comics in the country. In Atlanta I could kind of phone it in and still have the best set of the night, but out here I’ll be on a show where it’s me Pete Holmes, Kinane, Rory Scovel, John Mulaney. There’s no phoning it in on that one. Not that I have any illusions of being the best one on the show that night. The goal just switches to “I want to prove that I belong on this show.” That’s what LA did for me immediately. You gotta prove yourself all over again.