Comedy taught Christian Pieper to be authentic
For Salt Lake City-based stand-up artist Christian Pieper, comedy has done what many people say religion has done for them.
"[It] changed my life," Pieper told The Park Record. "I was a college drop out. I was at a dead-end job and unhappy in general.
"Comedy taught me to be authentic," he said. "I found out that audiences like when you’re vulnerable, honest and authentic. They can tell and they will reward you for being that."
Pieper will emcee Stand-Up UTAH!, a night of comedy at the Egyptian Theatre on Thursday, Oct. 29, at 8 p.m.
He will direct traffic between the sets of Eric Ripley, Paul Sheffield, Aaron Woodall, Aaron Orlovitz, Abi Harrison and Alex Velluto and give the audience a dose of his own, award-winning laughs.
"We are all looking forward to doing this," Pieper said. "I think I’ll have some fun because when you emcee a comedy show, many people don’t realize that that emcee is also a comedian. So, I’m ready to show them what I can do."
Pieper became a stand-up comedian five years ago, after he participated in an open-mic at the now defunct Wiseguys Comedy club that was at Trolley Square.
"I did a three-minute bit, because that’s all you got," he said. "It was about Justin Bieber around the time his movie came out."
Pieper had read Bieber grew up in a very religious and Evangelical household.
"His mother prayed that God would raise Justin to be like the prophet Samuel for this generation," Pieper said. "I read when Scoot Braun, who is Jewish, discovered Justin and signed him as a client, Justin’s mom was really worried and prayed asking God if he was certain Scooter would be Justin’s rep.
"That shocked me because she prayed for Justin to be like Samuel, who was Jewish, and the guy that came around to sign Justin was Jewish," he said. "That was the first bit and it went fine, but it was too long."
Still, the piece got Pieper a big laugh.
"That alone, was enough to keep me going," he said. "It also taught me that I needed to work harder, because doing comedy is different than being funny around the water cooler. You have to have structured jokes and you have to have joke after joke after joke in a story to keep the crowd interested."
That actually fit in with Pieper’s love of writing.
"I’ve always been a writer and that was my thing growing up in school," he said. "I thought that was what I was going to do. It was my life’s plan. And when I started to write, I found that what I liked to write was always funny."
Although he felt he had some comedic talent, Pieper didn’t know how he could use it.
"I didn’t really think it was something that people did and I didn’t know how people became comedians," he said. "After listening to some pod casts six or seven years ago, I started to learn about open mics. I learned that you could go and try to do comedy. It didn’t matter if you were any good. You could just give it a shot. I found that’s how everybody starts. I thought about it for a while and then just did it."
Although it took Pieper a few years to figure out how to get into comedy, he had already been groomed a bit for the part.
"I grew up in Kentucky and the comedy was all southern guys," he said. "I loved Jeff Foxworthy growing up. And I liked Ray Stevens, the guy who did parody songs in the 1970s. He did ‘The Streak’ and ‘Surfing U.S.S.R.’
"As I aged, my tastes matured and I was inspired by Louis C.K., Marc Maron and others of this generation, right now, who are intellectually exciting and have something to say that is not at the expense of the humor," Pieper said. "Which means, they aren’t so preachy."
Throughout the past few years, Pieper has made a name for himself and has performed around Utah and at the Boston Comedy Festival, Cleveland Comedy Festival, Rocky Mountain Laugh Off and Idaho Laugh Fest.
He has also performed abroad, having done shows for troops and civilians in six different countries a couple of years ago.
"We started off in Germany then went to Hungary, Georgia, the Netherlands, Belgium and England with Armed Forces Entertainment," Pieper said. "We went to stationed troops in small towns. They are really appreciative audiences because they are in small towns and we got to also walk around and see the life of people who live there. I had only been out of the country once before that, so it was like a discovery of the world."
Pieper has also received a Best Stand Up Comic nomination by Salt Lake City Weekly, a nod he is honored to have.
"The problem is that it’s easy to get focused on achievements and it’s easy to get discouraged," he said. "For every achievement you get, there are four or five you don’t get.
"So, I try to be more process driven and be the best comedian that I can," he said. "I’m in this for the long haul. I want to get better and become the best that I can get."
The Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St., will present Stand-Up UTAH!, a night of comedy on Thursday, Oct. 29, at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $15 to $25 and can be purchased by visiting http://www.parkcityshows.com.