Andy Woodhull Keeps It Personal

Rising comedian finds the humor in step-fatherhood
Comedian Andy Woodhull has built a comedy career, joking about his wife and two stepdaughters.

After graduating with a degree in geology and environmental science, comedian Andy Woodhull didn't particularly enjoy working in a lab for a company that sold clay. He wanted to do stand-up, but didn't realize the ladder-climbing that comes through open mics, then second-billed sets at comedy clubs.

"I used to think you were just being funny in a restaurant one day and show business would come and say, 'You're the next Jerry Seinfeld,'" he says.

In 2005, he discovered the scene in Chicago and eventually worked up the courage to quit his job and start touring in 2008. He basically hasn't stopped doing it since, working about 45 weeks of the year. At first, he focused on writing riffs on topics like frozen pizza, aiming for Seinfeld-esque observations on the mundane. But then, he opened for fellow comedian Mike Birbiglia, who basically advised him to cut the crap.

"After the show, he told me, 'If you really want to be original, the only way is to talk about yourself.' And that really changed the way that I wrote jokes," Woodhull says. As documented on his most recent album, Stepparenting, he married a woman with two daughters—a situation that's yielded some truly great bits. In one, he sets up by explaining how his wife got angry at him for having dishes from his prior relationship. Then he reminds the audience his dishes don't "sort of look like my ex-girlfriend."

Woodhull says his stepdaughters were impressed when he performed on the late-night shows of Jimmy Fallon and Conan O'Brien, but most of the time, their attitude is closer to how one of them responded to his suggestion for a white elephant Christmas party. "I jokingly offered to sign one of my comedy albums and she said, 'Andy, no one knows who you are,' which really sums it up," he says.

Although touring takes him away most weekends, he devotes the front of the week to his ladies, occasionally catching a flick at the dollar theater near his home in North Carolina. It's an arrangement that's more gratifying than his first post-grad gig. "My goal in comedy," he says, "is to keep being funny for a living, and not have to wake up at 5:30 to go into a lab anymore."

Andy Woodhull
Jun 22-25, Various Times, $14+
Rooster T. Feathers, Sunnyvale

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