Insight And Wisdom From Drew Hastings
Written by J.T. Ryder
Raised in Kettering, Ohio by a single mother, Drew Hastings’ teenage years found him finely honing a life of delinquency. Inspired by Mary Kay, he created a multi-leveled pyramid scheme to deal psychedelic drugs within the Dayton area. Other, more creative endeavors, included an archaeological expedition to South America (which some may define as “looting”), a document shredding business that never really shredded any documents, as well as a stint playing polo in the Cincinnati area with stolen horses. In the nineties, he eventually made it out to Los Angeles and quickly became ensconced within the entertainment industry, making guest appearances on sitcoms as well as beginning his stand up comedy career. Eventually, Drew created a self imposed isolation within the crowded confines of the city. After Drew’s therapist shot down his idea of joining a militia as a way to get out and meet people, Drew decided to get back to his Midwestern roots, so he bought the farm…literally.
Arriving from L.A., one can almost imagine Drew looking through Rodenstock rims across a field in rural Hillsboro, Ohio; the color of the heath matching his blond highlighted hair, his 6’6” frame draped in a dark Hugo Boss suit which twitches in the breeze while mud slowly envelopes the exquisite leather of his Dolce and Gabbana shoes. It’s a Rockwell scene as painted by
When I spoke with Drew for the first time, back in 2007, I asked him if he wouldn’t feel more comfortable in a theater setting, to which he replied, “Well, that’s really where I’m heading. I’m really trying to get out of the clubs.” During a recent interview with him, I reminded him of his past statements and asked him how the theater tour was faring.Hieronymus Bosch or, more aptly, Green Acres if it were directed by David Lynch. It is unknown whether or not anything has ever been produced by Drew’s farm (save for one bi-racial calf that I know of), but he has reaped a relatively large harvest of humor from it. With a highly rated Comedy Central special, Irked and Miffed, receiving rave reviews, his new theater tour as well as his appearances with The Bob and Tom Comedy All Stars, it seems to be a bumper crop indeed.
“Yeah and it’s actually all happened.” Hasting’s animatedly remembers. “In fact…God! I’ve hardly been in the comedy clubs in the last year or so.”
Asked what the disadvantages were, Hastings went on to say, “Now, that being said, there are still advantages to doing the comedy clubs. The things I’ve learned are A.) you lose the intimacy in a theater, when, in a club, you’re almost right on top of people and B.) you almost miss those Thursday/Sunday shows where you would normally try and work out some new material.” Hastings went on to explain, “Now, when somebody’s out paying twenty-five bucks a tickets, you can’t really say, ‘Eh, I think I’ll try and plow through that new Starbucks shit up there at the Victoria and see how that goes over.’ That’s not fair to your audience to get up there and fuck around.” It’s all been theaters, which really has its upside and its downside. As it’s turned out, there’s an upside in that (the audience) is more serious about what you’re doing. A part of it is the theater experience. I mean, face it; when you go to a theater and kind of look around and you’re like, ‘Wow! I’m in a theater!’ as opposed to, ‘I’m in a comedy club and some guy’s shit faced next to me.’ There’s just a huge difference in terms of ambiance.”
Having been around the local comedy clubs a lot, I knew that a comedian needed time and an audience to bounce new material off of, to develop it, hone it or finally choose to discard it. I wondered if the inability to do that while on a theater tour prevented Hastings from developing new stage ready material or if he had found other methods to sharpen a new act.
“Actually what I do now is I’ll go in anonymously into a club.” Hastings reveals. “I’ll go into a club like in St. Louis, Indianapolis or Kansas City and I’ll just say to the middle act, ‘Hey, do you want the night off, paid?’ and then I’ll just go up and do his set. Nobody knows I’m there until they go, ‘And here’s your feature act, Drew!’ I’ll just walk out there and do a half of an hour and do some new material.”
While there are many that know Hastings from the Bob and Tom show and are enamored with his farm humor, there is so much more to his act.
“Well, those people that kind of know me and have followed my career know that I mix it up. I’ve been doing this for twenty years and I just started doing the farm material four years ago.” Hastings adds, “Also, I don’t want to be known as, ‘Oh! He’s that farm comic!’ That isn’t me; that’s an aspect of what I do. I do my other material and some people are like, ‘Who’s Noam Chomsky? What? I thought he was going to do some jokes about cows!’ But, that’s O.K. I’ve really just got to do what I got to do.”