Geoff Tate: Regionally mature and coming at you 'Again'

Chad White

Sometimes, you just have to take a chill pill and relax. Comedian Geoff Tate takes that approach to comedy with his laid back demeanor and relatable stand up. Most comedians chase after the audience with their punchlines but not this guy. Tate has been a staple in the Cincinnati comedy scene for a few years, building a reputation on and off the stage through tools like Twitter and podcast appearances.

Now, Tate is taking on the comedy world with his third album, Again, which is out today. He puts a spin on usual things like driving down the express lane and getting pulled over. I recently had a chat with Tate where we talked regional stand up, the best places to tour, and how he grew following his divorce.

You’re based in Cincinnati. I haven’t heard of any comedians based out of that city.

Yeah. Do you know that guy Josh Sneed? Josh Sneed lives here.

Is it a decent venue at least?

Yeah. When I started, there was one club and it was great. And now there’s a couple more clubs. I still work the one where I started. But there’s a couple of Funny Bones now. They just opened a new one in the northern suburbs. There’s a few good alt shows. But it’s also a good [place to start]. When you start out, there’s like 30 clubs so that’s a good five hours.

I see your Twitter where you’ve got eleven thousand followers. You’ve got a pretty big presence as well. You tweet almost every day. I also noticed you have album giveaways. Is that helping you drum up the name, Again, for your third album?

I hope so. I don’t know if it is or not but it’s fun. It’s fun to have it start with such a general [question]. The games are what movie am I watching. It’s fun to put that out, wait fifteen minutes and then start to narrow it down just to watch the guesses and see what people are guessing.

I noticed, along with the giveaways, you’re also touring a lot. Has touring helped with getting your name recognition out there as well as building your material?

It does for sure. The stuff I do with [Doug] Benson and Doug [Stanhope] really get my name out. Then the touring is just more fun. I’ve started doing it this way last September when I wasn’t looking for weekend dates of just trying to find old venues or off nights in clubs and things like that. It’s just more fun this way. The shows are better. I thought it might be smaller because you go to a club on a weekend and they just give away so many tickets because the room’s so big. The eighty people that show up on purpose…it’s so much better.

How long have you been a regular opener for Benson and Stanhope?

Stanhope is a little more sporadic. Benson I’ve been on Doug Loves Movies a lot the last several years. Whenever I first started doing the shows, I guess I just resonated with the listeners because it seemed like a listener had gotten on the show. I know how the games are played and I know what drives me crazy as a listener so I just tried to keep that in mind when I’m doing the show.

I listened to a lot of your album. I particularly liked the track that was about the Jesus deer that was going to break into your house.

Honestly, when I was listening to the recordings, I had forgotten about that bit.

You’ve performed at places like Bonnaroo and SXSW but you’ve also done The Late Late Show. What’s the atmosphere for both shows? Do you like doing the live thing versus the network thing or vice versa.

The live stuff is always better. The TV stand up sets have stages that are built for TV, not stand up. So even the best ones, you’re still further from the crowd than you are as a comic. And there’s a camera bank between you and the crowd. It’s harder. This was something that didn’t occur to me when I did it: they don’t want anybody looking at the crowd; you gotta look at the camera. And that makes sense because there’s a lot of watching on TV. The Craig Ferguson studio had like eighty. It was a very tiny room. It was great to do stand up in for television. I still want to look at the audience. That connection is what feeds my energy and the set. It’s a trade I suppose.

You already have two albums out. How does Again differ? How have you grown with the material in Again between this one, the last one, and the one prior to that?

The first one, I was still married. And I had a much more rose colored view of everything. Especially myself. I hadn’t put any thought to my emotional EQ. I hadn’t done anything when I made that one so it’s kind of surface [level]. The second one was after I got divorced so it dealt more with the aftermath of the divorce. I still don’t talk about it a lot but the second one had to do with what happened after I got divorced. Suddenly I’m 34, the internet is what everybody uses and I just missed all of it. This one is a little less thematic because I was single when I made this record and I wasn’t super depressed. It seems a little lighter and it covers more topics than just “I fucked up.”

Would you say that the divorce helped you usher in a new form of yourself with your on stage persona and help you open up more to the crowd, trying out different things?

It definitely did that. It made me do a lot of things. We were together for most of all of my twenties. I hadn’t done [anything]. Emotionally, that’s where I stopped. When we split when I was thirty-two, I had to figure out a lot of stuff. I had all the decisions to make that were mine and mine alone. And they involved everything. So I kind of did learn more about myself. I’ll say that it’s definitely showing up more in what I’m doing now. It’s not just about the stuff I’ve been doing on the road the last six months.

Are you a fan of touring or would you want something that’s a little bit more localized and stable like a TV show?

A TV show would be good if it’s the right show. No one turns it down unless it’s just terrible. If I had my own show, that’d be pretty dope. But I like touring now more than I ever have. I found somebody [who] goes with me. We have good time. We get along. We travel well. The shows are fun. Yeah.

What’s your favorite city to go to?

Oh man! Now you’re going to jam me up. I gotta have a list because I like everybody.

Give me three great cities to go to. Not even your best. Just give me three of the best ones to go to.

I’m going to do that but I’m going to count Seattle, Portland and Austin as one city. Because they’re kind of the same – it’s real hot in Austin – I kind of like those cities for the same reason. They’re pretty cool and the comedy scenes are real good and the comedy fans are real good. And the towns have stuff to do. But that’s one thing. I really like Bloomington, Indiana a lot. And Charleston, South Carolina; I’ve only been there once but the day I was there was amazing. I really want to go back and spend a few days there.

Those are some great cities. Have you ever been to the south, like Atlanta?

I’ve been to Atlanta. I haven’t been to Atlanta in a while. I’ll be going there sometime this year and working. I don’t dislike Atlanta but it’s like Houston where it’s just so big and spread out. Houston, you could fly into the wrong airport because they’ve got two -- it’s real stupid. If you book the wrong hotel in Atlanta, you’re forty-five minutes form the gig.

I’m in Atlanta and I agree with everything you just said.

That burger restaurant, the Laughing Skull, is real good.

Who is your favorite Cheers character and/or who do you relate to most on Cheers?

I relate to Woody the most on Cheers because I’m still constantly finding out things that I thought I knew that I don’t know. So there’s still part of me like “oh the big city!” I still have part of that. My favorite is tough. I would have to say my favorite Cheers character is Harry the Hat. That dude was so cool. He was only on six episodes but that dude was so cool. Who relates to Sam? I don’t relate to Sam. I think he’s funny. And I don’t relate to Norm or Cliff or whatever. I relate to Woody. And I think Harry the Hat is the coolest.

Follow Geoff on Twitter, check out his website, and buy Again today.