Chris Redd

Chris Redd at Punch Line Philly

Stand-up and sketch comedian Chris Redd talks about rapping, improvisation, and the freedom of the stage. 

You may believe that you know what comedian Chris Redd is all about, what from having witnessed him performing sketch work through Second City in Chicago, then, most famously, as a regular team member of Saturday Night Live up through 2022. But what a provocative Redd is truly up to now, on an East Coast tour that takes him to Punch Line Philadelphia from May 11 to May 13, is what he calls a vibrant and often improvisation hybrid of everything that he is at that moment: stand-up comedian, sketch artist, rapper, improviser and more. Don’t go to Punch Line Philly expecting any of Redd’s famed impersonations unless the spirit and the moment move him.

Welcome to the mind of Chris Redd, as entered into by dosage MAGAZINE’s A.D. Amorosi…

A.D. Amorosi: From the start of your career, you were fully immersed in sketch comedy, Second City dovetailing into SNL. What can you say about your time in sketch and how it informs what you do and say as a stand-up comedian? Its movement? Its flow? 
Chris Redd: Second City taught me a lot while I was there, but I was doing stand-up alongside of sketch and its various styles. I pretty much absorbed what I could that applied to me, because my end goal was always to create this hybrid kind of thing. I wanted a place where my stand-up and my sketch stuff could inhabit different ways of going about comedy. 

A.D. Amorosi: That’s fresh and surely odd at the start for people in the biz to witness. 
Chris Redd: Everybody kept telling me that I had to pick a lane, that I could only do one or the other on stage. But I didn’t really like being told what to do. Out of pure rebellion, I moved forward and did all of it all at once just to show everybody that I could do what I set out to do. Everything. While it was a harder route to go and perhaps took longer, it paid off in a really cool way. With that, I haven’t had writer’s block in a long time because you can lean on different parts of the brain. If I’m having a difficult time finding a character or inhabiting a character, I’ll just go into something else, improvisationally. I feel free to do and go anywhere. To write on my feet. 

A.D. Amorosi: You can apply the structure of sketch to your stand-up and the openness of stand-up to your sketch and character work. 
Chris Redd: The main thing is that it is freedom to move in and out of these structures and skill sets. I use it all. I don’t use it all. It’s a tool belt, and I’m able to pull things out as I need them. 

A.D. Amorosi: So, not everything you do on stage starts with the written word.
Chris Redd: Not in the sense of writing, writing. I may jot down four words and know exactly what those four words mean. I may improvise from there in front of a crowd, see what interests me, record that, review it, find the funny, and rinse and repeat. It is about how I am inspired by what I’m doing.

A.D. Amorosi: I know you rapped, and that you rap and that it is separate from your comedy. But, all of what you are doing on stage as a hybrid comedian sounds more musical than anything. Very hip hop, very jazz, very of the moment.
Chris Redd; Absolutely. I approach comedy the same way that I approach music. I have a very rap style of approach to comedy. I think that made the music so much better. It also made everything flow better, click faster. I used to try to keep music separate from comedy, because I didn’t want to be funny, rapping. Once I took that barrier down, however, removed judgement, I was able to be at my best.

Chris Redd

A.D. Amorosi: This duality, or trilateral-ty, with that, what is comedy to you now that it wasn’t when you started at this game? 
Chris Redd: Comedy is a necessary energy that keeps the world able to be less stressed about itself. It’s fun, escapism, a way to make sense of issues we often weather with difficulty. Be they politically or emotionally. I used to think that comedy was therapeutic. And in a way, it is still. Now, though, that I’m actually in therapy, I think that therapy is therapeutic. I think I was probably oversharing a whole lot before I knew the difference. So, there’s growth in knowing that. Comedy is also a time capsule for me in that the hour that I share. Say, the last HBO Max special, Why Am I Like This?, is representative of my psyche, then. And the hour that I’m working on this week is representative of where I am at this week. That will always be the case.

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