(Amir Malekpour hosted the inaugural Baby Faces of Comedy showcase on Tuesday at 12 Galaxies. Amir has been recently making the leap in the world of stand-up comedy, placing second in the Twisted Biscuit competition and performing on multiple occasions at the Punchline in San Francisco. In addition, he's known as one of the nicest guys in the local comedy scene. Amir was nice enough to sit down with us this week to discuss his experiences with Baby Faces and comedy in general.)
Zembla: You were the host for the first (of many) Baby Faces of Comedy shows. How did you get involved with the show?
Amir: Soon after Joe Gorman had his historic discussion about Baby Faces with Dave Wiswell and yourself; he mentioned it to me at the SF Punchline and asked me to be in the show if it ever came into fruition. He liked my act and believed that I have a baby face; both of which I am very flattered by. Later on, I suggested that I host the show, so that there would be less of a burden on Joe. He could concentrate on other aspects, like killing in the show.
Zembla: Before Joe approached you, had you considered yourself to be a Baby Face?
Amir: That's a great question. I am not sure if I ever considered myself a true Baby Face. I mean, I definitely have boyish traits: my big cheeks, my shy personality, and boy-next-door qualities. And I definitely think I look younger than I am, provided that I am clean-shaven. One problem that did arise was that I started growing a goatee in weeks leading up to the show, and it was really helping me with the ladies. However, I decided to shave it for the good of Baby Faces, and ultimately, it was a decision I am glad I made.
Zembla: That is the biggest sacrifice I have heard of anyone making for the show. The goatee was looking sharp, by the way. Do you plan to regrow it now that Baby Faces is over?
Amir: Thank you for acknowledging the sacrifice, and that it looked sharp, because it definitely looked sharp, no doubt. I probably will experiment with other styles of facial hair such as the soul patch, handlebar, and the Fu Manchu before going back to the goatee. After shaving my goatee, I have a new legion of female fans that are into the Baby Face Amir, so I am definitely not hurting.
Zembla: There is a certainly a segment of the female population that goes wild for the baby face. How long does it take you to grow a goatee?
Amir: It really depends. For example, during spring and summer, it grows faster. The reason for this is that goatees get their power from the sun. When the temperature is warmer, they tend to grow faster. It's kind of backwards logic if you ask me, because you have more need for it to grow during cold periods. But I am not one to question evolution, or creation, or both.
Zembla: I can barely grow one at all, but I did notice, it got easier closer to the summer solstice. Did you alter or revise your material for the Baby Faces show?
Amir: I did not change any material for the show. I added a few jokes here and there, but I pretty much went with in with my best material that I knew had worked before. In my opinion - and I think most would agree - Baby Faces is a philosophy and an attitude more than anything. As long as your intentions are babyfaced and you have babyfacedness in your heart, then you won't have to alter anything. That is the way I approach life.
Zembla: I think the audience can sense that babyfacedness isn't about particular jokes; it's a state of mind. Any highlights of the show for you?/
Amir: I think being part of the show was a highlight in and of itself. I love working with friends such as yourself, Joe, Julian, Brent, Beata, and Jeff Cleary, all of whom I respect both as people and comedians. Also 12 Galaxies was very gracious, and of course, the audience was super.
Some of the major highlights for me were Julian showing us the sexy baby face, and your fantastic set to close out the first half. I really love your writing and your stand-up act and I had not heard your "middle-age open micer", which had me in stitches. I loved Beata's act because when she took the stage, the place erupted in noise from her fans. I love Joe Gorman's act and it was great to see him do a full set, especially when he closed with his "muffled noise through a pillow" joke, in front of his mom. And of course, Brent Weinbach closed it out and brought it home with his fantastic array of comedy styles, and showed us why he is considered one of the best comedians to come out of San Francisco. I also had a fantastic time doing my set and hosting. There are just too many more highlights to list.
Zembla: I love it when Joe's mom comes to shows. She once called me an "apple-cheeked young man" after a show at 50 Mason ( RIP) You've produced your own shows in the past - normally called Subterranean Comedy. How difficult is it to put on an event outside of the usual comedy club structure in SF? And, how does it compare to host one of these, as compared to running your own?
Amir: Say what you will about its political correctness, San Francisco is the best place to try to be original. There is a core audience here that is willing to spend the money and more importantly the time to seek out underground, non-mainstream comedy. The word "underground" gets thrown around a lot and kind of has turned into a mainstream idea. But when I say underground, I mean comedians who are just as good as anyone out there, but don't get to be seen because they have not been on TV or on the radio, or in the mainstream media.
There are definitely difficulties in running your own show because there are so many variables. You're in charge of booking a venue, getting an audience, booking the performers, advertising, while at the same time worrying about your own performance. The main difference between working clubs and putting on your own show is that you have more artistic freedom to try out new avenues of comedy and be more experimental. It has its own rewards, such as working with people you usually don't get to perform with, and trying out experimental material such as videos and short skits. Risks are, you're more likely to lose money, and since you have the responsibility to fill the place, you may not have a big audience. So far I've enjoyed doing the two [Subterranean] shows. I ended up losing money on both, but had a fantastic time performing in front of a large audience who really enjoyed themselves.
Zembla: Do you have any other shows coming up?
Amir: Its usually best to check www.AmirCat.com for updates of my schedule. However, this month I am doing a benefit for Toys For Tots at The San Jose Improv. Also please checkout for the next Subterranean comedy show in December.
(Note: The Subterranean show is normally at the Dark Room.)
Zembla: Ready for the lightning round?
Zembla:: Who's your favorite comic of all time?
Amir: Tie between George Carlin and Woody Allen.
Amir: Marc Maron, Arj, Patton.
Zembla: How long have you been doing comedy?
Amir: The first set I ever did was 3 1/2 years ago, but in actuality, I didn't start performing standup regularly until a year later.
Zembla: What is your career highlight so far (Baby Faces aside)?
[16:26] AmirXtreme: My professional comedy highlight was opening for Sue Murphy. Comedy highlight overall was producing the first two Subterranean Comedy shows. (Baby Faces aside, of course.)
Zembla: Any final words on Baby Faces, or comedy in general?
Amir: Baby Faces was definitely one of the highlights of my comedy career as I got to work with awesome people who were really funny too, no joke. I think it's also important to recognize all the comedy fans that go to comedy show every week to watch us comedians. You can't have comedians without an audience that is gracious enough and willing to share their emotions with you.
I feel that San Francisco has the best audience because they are smart enough to laugh at intelligent comedy, and educated enough not to acknowledge unoriginal hackneyed material.
Zembla: Excellent, thanks for talking to us. Readers, enjoy "The Amir Supremacy" below: