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  • Writer's pictureVINCI


This is Dan.

Dan, tell us more about how you got started in entertainment & comedy?

I think, like most comedians, I was drawn to stand-up because I really enjoy making people laugh.

I was always the class clown and the guy in the group that was turning everything into a joke and trying to find a way to make everyday situations funny.

It took me a while to actually try stand-up, though, because I did have a bit of stage fright.

I always found it amazing how one person could stand on a stage for an hour and keep the attention of hundreds or even thousands of people.

Even more, I was baffled at how they could memorize so much dialogue, and what would they do if they forgot something?

My first experience trying stand-up was a roast of a friend of mine.

Some mutual acquaintances decided to set it up for him when he was retiring, and asked me to do be one of his roasters.

It was pretty intimidating; I had no experience with stand-up at that point and I felt like these folks had high expectations since I was usually the funniest one in the group.

But, it was a decent experience since writing was relatively easy and because I knew a lot about him as a person since we all had shared stories and inside jokes.

So, a lot of my work was basically already done for me.

The roast went well, and I was able to get a spot in a local comedy showcase in Reno shortly after.

That set didn’t go nearly as well as I would have liked but it was a great learning experience for me, and all of the other comedians were really helpful and supportive.

They would go on and teach me a lot over the next couple years.

I was fortunate enough to get spots opening for some great comics and even got to tour Northern California and Nevada opening for Alex Reymundo.

I ended up getting a job as a producer in the video game industry, so comedy ended up taking a back seat.

While working at a game studio in the Bay Area, I was introduced to audio and voice over work.

It was a lot of fun and I had some of the best resources for recording and learning at my disposal. I got to work with award winning engineers, directors, and actors.

I was eventually able to audition for voice over roles in two of the games we were working on at the time, Batman: The Enemy Within and Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series.

Telltale games ended up closing and I moved back to Reno.

After taking acting classes for about a year and working on some films, TV, and commercials, I moved to LA to pursue a career in acting.

I still had the comedy bug and there was really no better place to learn and get experience than LA, so I was able to stay really busy working on voice over for video games and commercials, auditioning and filming during the day, and doing stand-up at night.

What is the most difficult aspect about launching a career in comedy?

The “most difficult” thing about starting a career in comedy is different for everyone in my experience.

It really depends on that person’s natural abilities, their situation when they start, where they first try comedy, and so on.

Some people are great performers, but are not good at writing and some are the opposite.

Some people have issues with stage fright, while some are just natural comedians and they just need to learn writing, timing, etc.

For me, the biggest challenge was where I was trying to start comedy.

There are only a handful of venues for comedy in Reno; most of them do not fall into the “middle ground” as I call it, where comedians go to elevate from doing only open mics to larger shows.

The majority of venues in Reno are either open mic clubs and bars, OR they are very large venues for top billed acts (Bill Burr, Tom Segura, Bert Kreischer, etc.).

So, it becomes increasingly difficult for comedians in the area to get experience with larger crowds, different types of audiences, or work on longer sets.

All of the venues that are bigger than open mics while not being 2000 seat venues are controlled by the same person, so if you are not “in” with this person, you won’t do anything more than an open mic in Reno.

So, most of us that are looking to grow have to travel at least a couple hours away to try and get bigger spots; Sacramento, San Francisco, etc.

That’s not to say that all the other aspects of comedy came easily to me.

I had to learn the technical side of comedy like everyone else.

But, the best way to get good at comedy for anyone is to get out there and do it as much as possible.

In a city like Reno, that is an extra handicap we have, as there are at least a couple hundred people trying to get into comedy, but there are only a few open mics, and they can only handle a few people per week.

It gets tough for us to get experience without moving to a bigger city – which was what I ended up doing, and things really took off as soon as I got to LA.

What are some of your favorite things you've got to work on over the years?

I’ve really enjoyed everything I’ve been fortunate enough to do.

I was worried early on that I had aged-out of comedy and acting, so every role or show I get to do feels like a victory.

But, if I had to choose some of my favorites, I’d say getting to perform at the Comedy Store in LA and meeting Bill Burr was great.

Opening for Alex Reymundo was also a great time, because I got to travel to different cities, try my material with different audiences and really test my ability to adjust on the fly (and I got to know Alex).

It was the first time I got to feel like a real comedian.

For voice over, my favorite projects were actually my first two projects, Batman: The Enemy Within and Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series.

I got to learn a lot, work on amazing games, and meet a lot of extremely talented developers and actors.

Being able to work on these games was how I met my first voice over coach, award winning actor Dave Fennoy.

I wouldn’t be anywhere close to where I am without this opportunity.

One of my favorite anecdotes – which is far funnier to me than to just about anyone else – as an actor is a phrase that I became known for in my comedy sneaking its way into the short film Borders.

It was part of a bit about my dad, where he made fun of me in a Russian accent (my dad is not Russian).

While filming – my character in Borders is Russian – I ad-libbed the line into a scene and it just fit, it was good for a laugh.

This phrase is something I say in my personal life fairly often when poking fun at my friends and will definitely be in my comedy and likely in my podcast in the future.

As for the phrase itself, it’s a fun little Easter egg that you all will have to try to find on your own, although I am sure it won’t be overly difficult to do.

Do you have anything new or upcoming that we can expect to see from you?

Stand-up comedy is likely to be on hold for some time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so I don’t have any shows to promote, unfortunately.

But, I have a feature film, Desert Shadows and a short film, Borders, scheduled to come out later this year.

I am also filming a television series in late May titled No Virtue, although I don’t know a release date yet.

Interestingly enough, in both Borders and No Virtue I play a Russian character.

Prior to filming Borders, I worked with a dialect coach to improve my Russian accent, which I had been working on as a voice actor so I was excited to get more training.

When auditioning for No Virtue, I read for multiple characters, “Mika” being the one I was cast in.

During my audition I asked if the character was Russian, because I knew the name was also a Russian female’s name, which I thought was funny.

They said they had not written the character to be Russian, but had me read with and without a Russian accent.

Having recently wrapped Borders, my Russian accent was on point and I landed the role, while also changing the character.

Aside from my comedy and acting projects, I am opening an audio and post production studio in the next couple months: Fibonnaci Sound Studio.

We specialize in voice over recording, direction, and coaching, as well as podcast hosting, ad audio post production services for TV, film, commercials and video games.

Having been a video game producer and voice actor, my contribution to the studio will be of particular value to anyone wanting to get into voice acting and/or video game audio.

I am also currently recording a podcast, Funny For Villains, with episodes slated to start releasing in June.

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