Stand Up & Deliver: Every Audience Is The Core
Leon casino, Photo: GeauxRo
There’s not a comic in Houston that had a bigger year of growth and accolades than Ashton Womack. I’ve consistently watched Ashton grow as a comic over the course of about eighteen months, and he’s never fallen short of impressive. He puts in the work, he hits a ton of mics, and he pretty much walks the path solo.
2014 saw Ashton win the Best Comedian award at the first annual Free Press Houston Sammy Awards. He also won the grand prize of two grand cash and a live recording at Heights Vinyl at the Beta Bracket Comedy Contest. What those at the awards show and at the bracket didn’t see, was the time, the work ethic it takes to make a joke work and to deliver the kind of sets that get people talking about you. FPH was lucky enough to grab an interview with a guy who lives and breathes comedy, and we are pleased to make Ashton the first featured comic in this series’ second year.
FPH: You’re from Houston. How long have you been doing stand-up?
AW: The week we’re doing this interview, it has been two years.
FPH: Kevin Hart recently said, “My hard knocks made me better. The life I grew up with and the mistakes I or everyone around me made, are what made me a stronger comic.” Do you feel like you can echo that ideal?
AW: I can, 100% yes echo that. You don’t have to have had it tough to be a big name comic. But, not to sound cliche, but my drive definitely comes from my dad not being there for me. But, he taught me comedy; so it’s probably 50/50.
FPH: Your dad is a stand-up, do you think that other comics think that he “trained you” to be where you are as a comic today?
AW: Not where I’m at as a comic, but all of the local comics know that he helped me. Not with my writing or anything like that, but my style of it is definitely from him.
FPH: You have the most charismatic on stage persona I’ve seen since probably Chris Rock. Is that coming from within, like is it who you are, or is it a skill developed over time?
AW: I definitely feel like it’s inside of me, this “attention seeker.” I love Chris Rock, so if I’m emulating him; then that’s probably true.
FPH: You hit more mics in a week than pretty much anyone else in Houston. Is there a room or a type of audience you want to be stronger in?
AW: Everyone, every audience is the core. But right now I wanna’ be stronger in front of a more ratched crowd. Because, they want you to be funny; and if you aren’t funny they’ll let you know. At this point in, I know that this is what I’m going to do as a profession. So I try to hit every stage and every audience.
FPH: When was the moment when you decided that you wanted to become a professional comedian?
AW: Honestly, all of my life. It was the first profession I watched on TV as a kid. I watched Def Jam as a baby, Comic View as a kid; and when I met my dad and I found out that he was a comic; it blew me away.
FPH: You have a very relatable form of humor, so much so that I know that there were people who thought you were studying engineering based on a joke. Is that a regular occurrence because you come off as so sincere, or was that just a one time thing?
AW: It happens at almost every show I do. If someone isn’t offering me a job in engineering, then they’re telling me where I should apply.
FPH: You’ve been the topic of conversation amongst many of the Houston pros, yet you don’t appear to belong to one clique of comics or another. Do you think that forging your own path has helped you become stronger as a comic, or has it hindered it?
AW: I definitely think there are pros and cons to it. My friends who are in the scene are my friends, but we don’t write together. I think that because I don’t drink, it makes it harder to hang out. But just because I’m not part of one clique or another, doesn’t mean I’m not cool with everyone. I do my stage time and I go home. It’s helped me focus on my craft more.
FPH: Who are your favorite comics of the past, and your favorite presently?
AW: From the past I really like Lil’ Rel Howery and Chris Rock. Currently, I like Jim Gaffigan and Mike Epps. Well, I’ve always liked Mike Epps.
FPH: What’s your definition of a successful career in stand up?
AW: A successful comedy career, in my eyes, is to have a comedy career to begin with. If I could be happy the whole way through it, then I would be a success. Also, if I could buy my mom a house someday or something like that, then that would be legit.
I feel like all that Womack has gotten in the form of awards or success, is a testament to hard work and dedication. His ability to put in the time it takes to make it as a stand-up comic is inspiring to witness. While Ashton hones his craft enough to buy his mom a house, you can catch him in more than one spot around town. He hosts the open mic at Christian’s Tailgate in the Heights every Wednesday, and he’ll be recording his live album at Heights Vinyl on February 28th.