Butch Escobar, stand-up comic and star of the Before Hightail TV commercial, talks about being a funny big guy, swallowing USB drives and working a baby shower.
People don’t think that I’ll be funny
When I walk on stage at comedy clubs, audiences think that someone who looks like me won’t be funny. I like to talk about it straight off, say something like “what’s the security guard doing up here?” That usually chills them out.
I started doing comedy as a dare
My first show was about nine years ago in San Jose. Friends had been telling me I should do comedy, so I got a slot at an improv night. I was throwing up backstage beforehand. The guy was telling me that I was on, but for me it was like the teacher in Charlie Brown—all I heard was “WAH-WAH WAH WAH-WAH”.
For the first four years I was awful
I was writing jokes that I thought were funny but none of it was from the heart. One day I realized that talking about my own life could be even funnier and since then it’s really clicked. Now people get a kick from seeing this big scary-looking dude talking about being lazy or telling funny stories about his five-year old son.
I’m a different monster on stage
Though I’ve played big clubs with big names in comedy like Doug Stanhope, Joe Rogan and Felipe Esparza, I still get nervous before every show. But once I get onstage, I turn that anxiety into positive energy and become a different person.
I love pretending to be other people
15 years ago, a friend dragged me along to be an extra on a Disney movie. I saw all the union actors sitting around eating omelets and thought, that’s what I want to do with my life. I got a part in a Slim Jim commercial that took off and now I love being in front of a camera.
I’m not afraid of being typecast
People always want me to play the tough guy or the drug dealer. I’m cool with that but I also want to do comedy or dramatic roles. I’d love to play a dad. People wouldn’t expect to see someone like me on screen as a regular family guy but I think it would work because that’s what I am.
Stand-up is good preparation for being on set
As a comic I’m used to going in and out of character all the time while on stage. On the set of the Hightail commercial I really enjoyed goofing around with the crew in between takes, making everyone laugh. But as soon as the camera was rolling, I could get straight into the tough guy character.
Swallowing all those USB drives was hard work
The prop crew had made candy USB drives that I could actually eat. But the problem was swallowing it whole and then delivering the line. Luckily one of my hobbies is magic, so sometimes I was able to just palm the drive without anyone noticing. But I did end up eating quite a lot of them. I was full up by the end of the shoot.
Watch Butch downing candy flash drives in this hilarious blooper reel.
It’s still not the weirdest job I’ve had
I recently got asked to do a baby shower. Some guy had seen my stand-up show and wanted me to just go around the room at the party and make people laugh. I was super nervous before it, as I had no idea how it would go. But it actually worked and everyone had a really fun day.
The Before Hightail commercial is currently running on BBC America, Comedy Central, E!, Esquire, Science, SyFy and TBS, or you can watch it on YouTube.