Legendary comedians such as Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle have performed at the Comedy Cellar and left their mark on the hit NBC show Saturday Night Live. Now, Detroit native Alex English is following in their footsteps. English, who is a stand-up comedian at New York comedy clubs like the Comedy Cellar and The Stand NYC, joined Saturday Night Live’s writing team during the 47th season and has since garnered his first Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing For a Variety Series.
Photo Credit: Alex Mendoza
Long before becoming a writer for Saturday Night Live, he recalled staying up late as a child and watching SNL greats like Maya Rudolph, Andy Samberg and Kristen Wiig. As a stand-up comedian himself, Alex delivers a personable and relatable style when it comes to comedy. “I kind of come at it in a way of like [having] a conversation with my friends and try not to make it sound too robotic,” English shares. “So the energy that I want in the room is like they are listening to their friend crack a joke or tell a story. I've found that once I get comfortable enough in my writing, to let loose in that way, my writing is reflective of the way that I actually speak. I think that's what helps, and it feels no different than being at a party surrounded by people and holding down the fort in that way. Just in this case, I'm on the stage and everybody else has to be quiet,” he elaborated.
With being in the field of comedy there's always the potential to rub people the wrong way with a joke whether it be the joke itself or the delivery. Being offended has led to “cancel culture” and attempts to have the offending party and their influence removed from public view. English doesn’t worry about that, however. He explained that he takes liberties and draws from an inner place and his own experiences rather than joke about something he doesn’t know. “If you start going into some details about things that you may not know much about, that's when people tend to want to correct or overcorrect, and I don't believe in correcting or policing comedians. I think comedians should be able to say whatever they want, and the barometer should be, whether or not it was funny,” English stated. “If somebody says to me, ‘Oh, what you said hurt my feelings.’ It is not hard for me to say, ‘my bad’ and because I know that I don't have any ill-intentions with anything and I believe that when people come to see me and when they watch what I'm doing, I feel like I do a very good job at conveying that without even having to say it. I felt like my intention was very clear from the get-go,” English added.
As a man who has the means to change the direction of comedy and has been doing that with his writing on SNL, English spoke about what he wants to see in the field of comedy going forward. “I just think the cream rises to the top, and ‘the funny’ is just gonna be ‘the funny.’ I prefer comedy with more jokes and I know there's a space for political commentary and comedy with a message, but sometimes you just want to hear a stupid joke. That's what I would love to hear more of,” he shared. “There’s nothing better than a funny story and there's so many. Everybody has individual stories that you haven't heard that are excellent. So I just want more silly and I want more goofy [comedy]. I want more people taking risks, and if that means you are offending somebody just say, ‘my bad’ and keep it moving. It's not that deep,” English added.
In the meantime, while continuing to work on the current season of SNL and future seasons, Alex hopes to bring his stand-up comedy on tour and hit the stage at different comedy festivals. But he is still holding court on the stages of venues like the Comedy Cellar.
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