Jacob Samuel is at Yuk Yuk’s Vancouver Dec. 27-28 to record his debut stand-up comedy album. (photo from Jacob Samuel)
Jacob Samuel’s headlining performances at Yuk Yuk’s Vancouver Dec. 27 and 28 are special – Samuel is recording his debut stand-up comedy album live.
“I have complete freedom content-wise, and I am trying to record an album that has 45 minutes of the best jokes possible,” Samuel told the Independent. “I’ll mainly be recording jokes from the act I’ve honed over the last five to six years in venues throughout Canada. Part of my act has jokes about being Jewish and Judaism that I’m very proud of because they challenge stereotypes people may have about Jewish people as opposed to confirming them.”
The last couple of years have been productive for Samuel.
In 2017, he was part of the television taping at the Winnipeg Comedy Festival and he made his first appearance on CBC’s The Debaters. Since then, he has appeared two more times at the Winnipeg Comedy Festival and has returned to The Debaters, as well.
In 2018, he made his debut at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal and he was featured on JFL Northwest’s Best of the West Compilation album last year. In total, he has now taped five sets for Canadian TV and has performed even more times on CBC Radio.
“This summer,” said Samuel, “I got booked to go to the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal for the second time, back-to-back. I went to perform on the Hasan Minhaj Gala. The galas are taped for TV in the 3,000-person theatre at Place des Arts.
“Getting on a JFL gala is the most coveted spot in Canadian comedy because those are the biggest shows at the festival. Every year, only a dozen or so Canadian comics get that opportunity.
“JFL Montreal, by the way, is the biggest comedy festival in the world – the entire comedy industry is there. So, when I was there, I was able to connect with 800 Pound Gorilla, an American Record label (based in Nashville) for comedy, and I told them I was doing a gala and wanted to record an album soon and, luckily, they were interested in signing me.”
Success entails doing harder gigs and carries the pressure to produce material at a faster pace, said Samuel, but he seems to be keeping things in perspective.
“I’m in my early 30s now, so the main thing in my life is that I enjoy getting home and going to bed earlier more than I use to. I don’t stay up late hanging out and drinking with other comics as much after shows. Not that I was ever a big partier, but it’s just nice to admit you like being in pajamas now.
“I also met my girlfriend/partner through comedy and we’ve been living together for a year-and-a-half now. So, I do a lot of writing by bouncing ideas back and forth with her. I have many more jokes now about being in a long-term relationship. My partner is not Jewish and did not know many Jewish people growing up, so it’s been interesting observing what she thinks about Jewish culture. I took her to her first Passover seder last year. On the way there, she asked me what it would be like and I said, ‘It’s hard to describe but tonight will be the most excited you’ll ever be to eat a hard-boiled egg.’”
Samuel recalled his early days in comedy.
“When I did my first open mic, I just wanted to see if I could physically do it,” he said. “I did not intend to become a comedian but, somehow, I got hooked and kept going. I’m starting to close in on 10 years and it’s weird to think about because, in some ways, comedy still feels like such a new thing. Having said that, when I look at very old videos, I cringe. I keep a hard copy of some of my earliest jokes in a drawer just to remind myself how far I’ve come (those jokes were very bad).”
When asked how his comedic content, delivery or style has changed since he began, Samuel said, “In short, it’s gotten a lot better. Part of learning how to do comedy is trying a lot of different types of jokes and seeing what works for you. So, now, I have a much better idea of what my ‘style’ is. Also, after countless professional club gigs, five TV tapings and several radio appearances, I’m a much stronger performer than I used to be. I’m able to do more complicated bits of material and I can now take ideas that used to be too abstract or subtle and make them work. I now have way fewer jokes about being single and way more jokes about things like carrot cake and moths.”
In addition to stand-up, Samuel is also a talented cartoonist, even having his work published in The New Yorker. While this aspect of his creative life has been put on the backburner for the last few years, he said, “I’m still cartooning but I’d like to put more time into it after this album.”
Other than that, he said he doesn’t have any other major projects planned at the moment.
“I’d like to do a second album in a few years, when I have more material. In the meantime,” he said, “I’ll keep trying to return to Canadian festivals and TV and radio. My partner and I would also like to do more sketch writing. Maybe I’ll submit to write for Canadian TV.”
Tickets for the live album recording shows Dec. 27 (8 and 10:30 p.m.) and Dec. 28 (7 and 9 p.m.) are on sale at yukyuks.com/vancouver.