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Comedy Q&A with James Kurdziel

Comedy Q&A with James Kurdziel James Kurdziel from 103.3 the Edge will be at Helium Comedy Club tonight.


Working the stand-up stage is only a slice of James Kurdziel’s career, but as he’ll tell you, comedy connects everything he does. From his regular job as the program director and daytime jock on 103.3 The Edge to his twice-yearly college tours, making people laugh is what makes Kurdziel a living.

You can catch Kurdziel monthly at Edge Comedy Night in Helium Comedy Club, including a show Dec. 17, where he’ll be performing along with his radio colleague Josh Potter and the Oregon-based stand-up Shane Torres. The show starts at 8 p.m.; general admission tickets are $2.

Here’s Kurdziel’s take on the comedy business.

On the strength of Buffalo’s comedy scene over the years:

“I played in a band for a long time, and the thing is Buffalo has a really tough time supporting their own stuff. It’s always been a very weird thing here, and it’s probably the same in a lot of other cities, too. But comedy here was always been really good. There was always guys moving to New York, L.A., touring.”

On the impact of Helium opening two years ago in downtown’s Cobblestone District:

“When Helium opened, there was a whole new legitimacy to the scene. It really drew a line between real comedians and people doing it as a hobby. And the people doing it as a hobby, it taught them, ‘This is what you need to do.’ It’s one of the most respected clubs in the country, and we have one here. It changed everything.”

On the camaraderie (and occasional lack of it) among Buffalo’s comedians:

“The weird thing about comedians in this town is it’s interesting who supports one another and who doesn’t. You have this big, giant majority of people who, even if they don’t personally like each other, they’ve got each other’s backs for the sake of the scene. And then there’s this whole other group of people – a much smaller group of people – whose interests are more tearing people down. I think most people get it: Do your stuff, man. You’re never going to build yourself up by tearing people down. It’s never going to work. But there are just some people who are sort of hell-bent on that. You don’t see or hear from them a lot, because who wants to be around that?”

How Kurdziel manages a stand-up schedule while being a dad (he has a teenage daughter) and having a full-time radio job:

“Twice a year I do a college run, and there are four clubs all within reasonable driving distance that I do regularly from Hartford, Conn., to Lancaster, Pa., to Ohio. When I go out now, it’s more for colleges than it is for clubs. Quite frankly, colleges are easier to book for someone like me, and you can put them together. You can take a week where you’re really not missing that much work, you can do these shows and get back in a decent amount of time. You can hit four or five different schools in three days.”

On where comedy fits into his overall career:

“It’s part of what I do. Everything I do is built around comedy: radio and stand-up and all these things. Being on a stage, or being in a production studio, or being in an office writing, it all works together for me.”

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