Stand Up & Deliver: Hating Tiny Houses
Owen Dunn, Photo: Colin Kirkpatrick
Houston comic Owen Dunn doesn’t really do things like everyone else. For starters, he spent a lot of time reviewing food for a YouTube channel which almost caused him health issues. He doesn’t really belong to one clique of comics or another, which means that he’s kind of on his own as far as getting shows, which is honestly the most rewarding way. He also only answered nine of the ten questions FPH asked him but, there’s something to be said about doing things your own way. Dunn is a regular at Houston’s Improv and he’s been getting on bigger and bigger shows all over the country. FPH sat down with him to attempt to figure out how he can be his own man and still get all of the right gigs.
FPH: How long have you been doing stand-up and who’s in your comedy class?
OWEN DUNN: After five I sort of stopped counting, but I’m about seven years in. Though they started a little before me, but Chase Durousseau, Albert Deleon, Russell Simek were the guys I hung out with when I first hit the open mics.
FPH: You do food reviews on the web. What made you start doing that, and what’s the worst thing you’ve eaten since you started?
OWEN DUNN: Last year, I was really trying to focus on building a web presence. A majority of my meals are handed to me through a car window, so I thought it was my field of expertise. I had other comedy sketches and stuff online, but the fast food reviews really took off. Even though I haven’t made one in a few months, people around the world continue to daily watch around three hours of my food videos. The worst thing I’ve eaten was easily the McRib. I couldn’t even swallow it. McRib fans should be on a government watch list.
FPH: You’ve done several festivals that have been out of town and out of state. Does it ever feel like getting on these shows means that you’re successful, or is it just part of the grind of being a comic?
OWEN DUNN: The way YouTube was my focus last year, this year I focused on getting into comedy festivals. Hundreds of comics submit to these, so it’s always a great feeling getting into one. However, the talent at these festivals is always impressive and has shown me just how many super talented comics are out there. I always come back to Houston motivated to work harder and write more.
FPH: You describe your type of comedy as observational, where you like to discuss things that annoy you. Can you elaborate on what annoys you?
OWEN DUNN: I’m such a grouchy person. Everything annoys me. It’s something I’ve been working on in my personal life, just trying to be happier and stop letting things bother me. Right now, tiny houses really piss me off. I will sit down and watch a marathon of tiny house shows, just yelling at the television. It’s a problem. Also, adults that have shitty nicknames for professional athletes. I understand hating the Cowboys, but Tony Homo? Grow up.
FPH: Who are your favorite comics from the past, as well as your current favorites?
OWEN DUNN: Jim Gaffigan, Nate Bargatze, Robert Hawkins, Tommy Johnagin, Sheng Wang, Bill Burr, Gary Gulman, Louis CK are my current favorites. As a kid, I must have watched the Gallagher specials a hundred times. Something about a guy smashing produce appealed to me. I smashed a watermelon with him at the Improv a few years ago. My shoes were ruined, but it was satisfying.
FPH: Recently, when asked about Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert said, “There’s nothing to me more boring than a late night war” about any conflict with taking over The Late Show. There’s conflict in comedy, especially Houston comedy, but you seem to stay out of most it. What’s your secret to not getting involved in the wars?
OWEN DUNN: It’s not easy when you see comics on a daily basis, or see things they post on Facebook (especially with my penchant for being annoyed by everything). Without trying to sound like an inspirational meme, I’ve found the trick is to just really not give a shit about what other people are doing and just work on your own stuff. Any time spent worrying about other people is time taken away from personal advancement.
FPH: You’ve gone from host to featured act in a pretty quick time frame. Recently, you started doing your first headlining sets over at Improv. Do you feel like you’re ready to start touring as a headliner?
OWEN DUNN: My first time hosting was at the Laff Stop, exactly one year after starting comedy, but after the clubs started closing it took a few years to get up to feature level. I’m still getting used to being the headliner. I didn’t want to start headlining until I was really happy and confident with my set. So far, I’ve had a really positive response to the few headlining shows I’ve done in Houston. Right now, I’m really trying to build up the fan base here in Houston, but a headlining tour is definitely in my future plans.
FPH: Now that things are going well, when will you move out of Houston and do this on a bigger stage?
OWEN DUNN: I’ve been here in Houston my whole life, and I feel the itch to move. New York and Los Angeles are super tempting, and they’re constantly in the back of my head. It will happen eventually, especially if the City of Houston tows my car one more time. They say you have to just jump in and do it, but I’m such a worrier. I don’t want to live in a tiny house.
FPH: What’s your definition of a successful comedy career?
OWEN DUNN: Comedy is the only job I’ve had longer than five years, so this is the closest to a career I’ve had so far. I want to be popular enough that people think I’m a lizard person or in the illuminati, but unknown enough that paparazzi aren’t taking pictures of my genitals when I get out of luxury car. I’d be satisfied with a cult following that covers my bills.
Like I said, he doesn’t do things like any other comic in Houston..including answering questions. While Dunn overcomes his fear of a tiny house, you can catch him at Houston Improv on October 28th for the Jokes & Justice benefit show.