By Mark Aldrich
A note from the editor: Click here to vote for Meghan Jenkins to appear on a future cover of Maxim magazine! She made it through the first and second rounds of voting with your help; please vote each day.
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NYC-based stand-up comedian Pete Burdette (“Comedy Pete” to his fans—well, he assigned the nickname to himself but the reasons behind this will be clear in a moment) interviewed L.A.-based comedian, actor, director, model, and publisher of the website you hold in your hands right now Meghan Jenkins for an hour-long show on Instagram Live on September 27.
The two discussed live comedy in our pandemic era, classic comedians and their influence on both Pete and Meghan (Jack Benny’s perfect timing still permeates our comedy sensibilities, forty-five years after his death), Meghan’s surprising love for hecklers, and Meghan’s road thus far from unknown to improv at The Comedy Store to her many current projects, like MeghaZine and The The Ding Wrong Show. The two also discussed her accidental modeling career, which was sparked by her invitation to compete in a contest to become a Maxim magazine cover model.
Pete Burdette is so well-known to patrons of New York City comedy clubs that his story was used to lead off a 2019 New York Times article about comedy clubs in NYC and those “barkers” like Burdette who are stationed in the street to cajole and entice (often at the same time) passersby into the clubs: “Secrets of the Oldest Comedy Club Barker on Macdougal Street” (subscription required).
Usually these street barkers are young comedians who have barely begun their journey from callow youth to onstage performer, but Burdette is unique. He is 49 and has started to make his way from the sidewalk to the main stages at various Manhattan clubs. The Times article concludes on a note of optimism about Burdette’s future: It points out that one club, the Grisly Pear, had put Burdette’s photo up in its hallway (a comedy club rite of passage) and that a fan had asked for his autograph. “I get a little, minor taste of what it would be like—fame,” he is quoted as saying.
This was in December 2019. This year of pandemic and quarantine has seen ambitions and plans across the creative spectrum diverted if not blown up. Like Meghan Jenkins, who turned to social media to expand her audience, Burdette turned his Instagram account into an online form of barking: he hosts the comedians he’s gotten to know and helps sell them. Online, he stations himself in front of a brick wall as if he is at work on stage in a club and chats amiably with his fellow comedians.
For someone like me, who loves to listen to comedians discuss the craft, the show is fun and funny; Meghan loves to talk about her creative endeavors (full disclosure: she talks about my contributions to this website and The The Ding Wrong Show in a way that will permanently eliminate all need for me to brag); and it sounded like Comedy Pete ended the hour-long chat a big fan of Meghan, Panda, and Meghan’s projects.
About that nickname: apparently “Comedy Pete” is a self-awarded nickname, and Burdette uses it on the street, on his Twitter account, and perhaps even at home. Unlike most self-given nicknames, this one has stuck, and it is appropriate.
If the concept of comedy club barkers sounds familiar, the stand-up comedian Pete Holmes’ HBO series Crashing depicts comedy club life with a documentarian’s eye for detail, and barkers are featured. That show was produced by Judd Apatow, who took notice of Mr. Burdette through the New York Times article, which had been inspired in part by the HBO series. Future projects fostered by these connections are hoped-for.
Here is Comedy Pete’s Instagram Live interview with Meghan Jenkins from September 27:
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Mark Aldrich is a journalist, award-winning humor columnist, and writer/performer with the Magnificent Glass Pelican audio theater improv group, now in its thirtieth season. His website is TheGadAboutTown.com.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.