When James Kurdziel used to emcee the old Edge comedy nights at the now-shuttered Comix Café, he treated it not like a comic, but as a radio host introducing a band. In 2007, he began to take comedy more seriously by writing down stand-up jokes and performing at open mics and showcases throughout the area and in Canada.
Now program director at WEDG 103.3 FM, Kurdziel is working regional comedy tours and co-produces the monthly Edge showcases with fellow radio personality Josh Potter at Helium Comedy Club. He also has a lively Twitter feed (@JamesRadio) as he often has strong opinions about local issues. I interviewed Kurdziel at his office before this month’s showcase featuring headliner Rick Matthews on Dec. 23.
Question: Do you guys have the same audience come out every month?
Answer: Josh and I are amazed about how many new people are there every single month. It’s one of those things where you realize that Buffalo is a lot bigger than people think. Buffalo is NFL small, but it’s not America small, so there are plenty of people to go around and do different things. What impresses me the most is when there’s a ton going on, and we still fill that room. That’s really cool.
Q: By putting on a monthly show, is there pressure to constantly deliver new material?
A: You absolutely do feel that pressure, but the problem is that it forces you to do a lot of material you’re ready to do just for the sake of doing new stuff. I’m going to do what I think is the best show that night, whether that’s older stuff or some newer stuff that I’m confident in. I’ve fallen into the trap where I see some familiar faces (in the audience), so I better do all the new stuff, but it’s just not ready. What’s the point of performing in front of new people if you’re not going to do a good show?
Q: How do you see yourself in the local scene?
A: I’m a Buffalo guy. I don’t want to move to LA or New York. My goal is to get better here, and help Buffalo get better for comedians who want to grow here. Watching guys from here just get better and better is (amazing). I think about Rick (Matthews) and just how absurdly good he is. He’s meant for this. Rick is just the best comic in Buffalo.
Seeing what Edge Night has become (makes me) really proud of it. Seeing that room full and people can’t get in, I think to myself that I can’t believe that a couple of comics at this dopey little radio station did this.
We feel really close to that audience. It just feels different than when you do a show where you go up, perform and leave. You spend more time talking to people than you normally do. They’re emailing you, calling you or going on social media about it the next day. It’s just been so fun watching it turn into this.
Who: James Kurdziel, Josh Potter and Rick Matthews
Where: Helium Comedy Club, 30 Mississippi St.
When: 8 p.m. Dec. 23