In the first edition of Run the Light, we interview Peter Banachowski, comic and employee of the famous Hollywood Improv.

Brad: How did you start working at the Improv?

Peter: I got the job at the Improv out of sheer coincidence. I was going everywhere in LA looking for a job, and after finding no luck anywhere I decided to go to places where I wish I could have worked; the Comedy Store, Groundlings, etc. and I walked into the Improv the day the gentleman who previously had my job put in his two weeks notice. The manager came down and asked if I had a math background for the accounting, I said I have a BA in Mathematics (which I do). He then asked if I had a secretary background, I said I used to be a secretary at a rehab clinic for nuns for two years from midnight to 8am while I was going through college (which I did). They put out craigslist ads, interviewed about 10 more people, and even after that they still thought I was the best candidate for the job. Just like comedy, it’s all about timing and preparation.

Brad: You seem to be running stuff over at the Hollywood Improv, how long have you worked there?

Peter: I seem to be running stuff at the Improv, but a lot less than outsiders think. I’ve worked here almost 3 years now as the office manager (my official title is Unit Controller but nobody knows what that means). I basically do the bookkeeping, update the website, account for the inventories and paying bills and comics. My job is basically all the boring business side of a comedy club. I don’t book comics on shows at all. Hell, I don’t even get booked here by the Improv unless I create a show at 6pm or 12am and host it myself.

Brad: Who are a few of your favorite comics to watch live at the Improv?

Peter: So many good comics roll through here I still get choked up once and awhile thinking about being a kid back in my hometown of Oxford MI watching my heroes on the internet or TV. My personal favorites to watch live are (in no particualr order) Hugh Moore, Ryan Stout, Kevin Shea, Sean Patton, Ian Bagg, Guy Branum, and of course, my favorite comic in LA, and probably anywhere, Jamar Neighbors.

Brad: You run the popular open mic at the Improv and come in contact with an ocean of new comics, what are some of the no-no’s that comics do?

Peter: There’s really only two no-no’s I can say are absolute
1) Don’t run the light. It’s been said a billion times, all comics know it, but most comics still don’t follow that simple rule. From a business perspective, managers hate it (even if you’re “killing”) because it pushes the show back, staff has to stay longer, and comics cost clubs money. I’ve heard many stories from upper level management about guys who aren’t booked because they’re known for running the light. From my perspective, hosting and running late shows or open mics, if you run the light by three minutes, that’s a whole other comic I could have given stage time to, but you ran the light, now I can’t put this other comic up. Dane Cook and Dave Chappelle are in a whole other league. It’s a selfish and ballsy move when you’re a comic just starting out. Plain and simple it’s a statement of disrespect and show producers, club managers, and industry in the crowd all make note of that.
2) Don’t tell the crowd to leave. It sounds stupid but comics do it all the time. Stop asking the crowd, “what are you doing here”, “you know you could have stayed home”, “you guys are terrible”. If you don’t want to perform for them, don’t go on stage. I’ve got 6 comics lined up ready to do anything to make these 2 audience members at 1:30 AM laughs their asses off, and you’re telling them to go home and not be at the show? I’ve never understood it.

Brad: You seem like the nicest guy in the whole world, is that all an act?

Peter: This question actually made me laugh out loud. You think I’m the nicest guy in the world, but I get plenty of emails from people who think differently. I’m never acting. I’m just big on honesty and the Golden Rule. I don’t see a point to being mean, lying, negativity, talking during other comics sets etc. because I don’t like it when it’s done to me. I may be naive, but I think it’s that simple. This comedy game is hard enough without comics making it harder for each other. Raise all boats.

Brad: You hail from Michigan, are you a Michigan State fan or Michigan? (The interviewer went to Ohio State, so this is important).

Peter: I hail from Michigan yes, but I don’t endorse either UofM or State. I worked my ass off to earn a math degree while commuting 45 minutes everyday from home to a University called Oakland in Auburn Hills, MI while working several jobs, going to Second City Detroit and doing stand up. Go Grizzlies!

Brad: How you want to be plugged at the bottom of the article?

Peter: I’m not sure how to be plugged, or even what that means for that matter. Just say something from the heart, I have little to no credits.

Brad: (Laughs), I don’t know what it means either. Peter did mention he could be a bit long winded. Well, looks like Peter Banachowski just ran the light.

Catch him at the Hollywood Improv, on Tuesday and Friday for the open mic!

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is a stand up comedian located in Los Angeles, CA

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