Buffalo-born comedian Joe Pera had a killer 2016, thanks to his appearances on “Late Night with Seth Meyers” and his two Adult Swim specials, “Joe Pera Talks You to Sleep” and “Joe Pera Helps You Find the Perfect Christmas Tree.” Now he returns to Buffalo for his first headlining gig at Feb. 17 at the 9th Ward @ Babeville. Dan Licata, Clayton Williams, Carson Belle-Isle and Zack Dietsch also will perform.
I caught up with Pera before his homecoming gig in a recent phone interview.
Question: Do you like being able to do a show while you’re in Buffalo so your family can see your act?
Answer: Yeah, I’m excited. I’m a little nervous. My parents have seen me do stand-up a bit, but I have some other relatives that are coming that haven’t. I don’t know. The pressure feels more on than usual to not disappoint them.
Q: Is it more or less pressure for you than doing Seth Meyers?
A: My parents came to see me on “Late Night,” so that was double pressure. But yeah, I don’t want to come back to Buffalo and do a bad show. I’d feel horrible. It’s different, but I think it will be a lot of fun. My friend Dan Licata, who also grew up in Buffalo, is also doing the show so it will be fun for both of us to be there. My cousin’s nephew, Carson, is also performing and will open for both of us.
Q: What’s your process for coming up with material?
A: I have to do everything on paper, or at least start it there. I’ll write a set-up and try to write as many punch lines as I can come up with until I can figure it out. I wish I could come up with things on stage like other people do. I’ll add to some things (while) on stage, but I really have to think out my jokes and find them in the writing process.
Q: Do you enjoy stand-up or working on the Adult Swim specials more?
A: They’re both really enjoyable, but a lot of the ideas from the shows are right from the stand-up. Lately I’ve been doing so much video stuff that my stand-up isn’t as sharp as I would like. I feel bad because all the stuff from the shows, or at least the seeds from them, came from onstage. I can also test out jokes from the shows on stage. They’re very much linked. It’s fun once I get the bits and start thinking of visual representations of them. Stand-up is where I get my ideas, and not doing it, I feel bad. I have to do both constantly for either of them to be good.
Q: Do you have filmmaking friends that you partner with for these videos, or does an outside company execute your vision?
A: I’m very much involved with the process. I have a friend who produces them, and people from the comedy scene help act in it. For the “Talks You to Sleep” show, I was friends with the animator beforehand. With the Christmas show, a lot of the people (involved) I’ve done video stuff with before, but in a smaller capacity. We were just doing what we’ve always been doing, but on a bigger scale.
Who: Joe Pera with Dan Licata, Clayton Williams, Carson Belle-Isle and Zack Dietsch
When: 8 p.m. Feb. 17
Where: 9th Ward @ Babeville, 341 Delaware Ave.
Tickets: $12 in advance, $15 day of show