Zach Dresch is a Sioux Falls comedian, improviser, musician and more. Since he's a local expert on making people laugh, it only seemed fitting that we sat down with him ahead of April Fools Day to get smart about the local comedy scene.
Answers are edited for length and clarity. Responses are direct quotes from Dresch.
How did you get into comedy?
I always watched stand-up comedy growing up – I watched Comedy Central all the time, Saturday Night Live. I knew I wanted to perform in some capacity, but didn't know what I wanted to do.
I did plays in high school and college, and my junior year of college I went to the American College Theater Festival in Lincoln, Neb.
- There was an open mic night one of the nights we were there, and I decided to try it out. I think my first crowd of people doing stand-up was about 300 people.
I did that, and it went pretty well. And then I just started doing comedy in Sioux Falls – doing open mics, doing shows on weekends. It just kind of blossomed from there.
We're all about simplicity here. Can you describe what makes something funny in 10 words or less?
If you have a punchline, that’s the main goal.
What's something people most often misunderstand about comedy/comedians? (And if you could politely correct them, what would you say?)
People always say anyone can do it. And to that I say, it takes a lot of practice and a lot of developing thick skin, developing material, working on your craft.
Whenever people say anyone can do stand-up comedy, I say, yes, to an extent. But in order to sustain it you have to practice, keep going to open mics, and keep working on your material.
If Sioux Falls Simplified turned into a "The Onion"-style satire site tomorrow, what's a story you'd expect to see?
"Sioux Falls labeled 'littlest big city' or 'biggest little city' – I'm not really sure."
How does Sioux Falls rank when it comes to comedy? What's the local scene like?
I think our comics rival even some of the bigger cities like Minneapolis because our comics work really hard on their material – they do every show they possibly can.
- We always try to make sure that there's no ego involved (among local comedians). It's important to stay grounded. If you get an ego, there's nowhere to go but down.
Mostly our scene is just full of really talented people without egos. We all work really hard at what we do.
What's your advice for someone who wants to get into comedy?
If you're not fully ready to go up on stage and do an open mic, just go to them.
- A lot of friends I know who've started doing stand-up, they've just gone to a few shows to take it in, see the crowd. And they're kind of gradually building material.
Write down anything you think is funny, then you can develop it into a bit for the stage. Write however you're most comfortable.
And just go to open mics. Hop up on stage when you're ready.
Where can folks find local comedy shows?
There's a Sioux Falls Comedy Facebook page. It's kind of the main place to check stuff out.
For me, you can find upcoming events on my website, zachdresch.com.
Anything else you want the people of Sioux Falls to know about you, your job or the local comedy scene?
I encourage everyone that has any interest in comedy whatsoever to go see these shows that are in smaller cities, smaller areas (like Sioux Falls).
- It's awesome to see your heroes, but they all started somewhere small, too.
Audiences are the most essential part of comedy, so go support local shows.