By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com
It is a pleasure to welcome comedian Eric Schwartz to Jake’s Take.
Eric is a multi-dimensional showman whose stand-up, sketches, songs, and characters have led to collaborations with Jason Mraz, Craig Robinson, Disney, Yahoo, and Headline News Network. His work has also caught the attention of Jay Leno, GQ India (who named him one of the Five International Comics You Must Catch”), and Ryan Seacrest, who declared that Eric is “rocking the web” with “video that’s got everyone Googling.” Forbes added that Eric started “a minor industry in pop music parodies.”
Eric’s videos have taken cable by storm as his work appeared on various networks such as CNN, E!, G4, and Showtime. Also, Hulu aired his first comedy special, Surrender to the Blender, in 2014 and the clips from his show have been viewed over 20 million times online! Currently, Eric is in the final stages of his tour, Storm the Nation, with stops in Kansas City, Tampa, Denver, and Colorado Springs.
Eric took time out of his schedule for A Conversation. He shared his nickname, Smooth-E’s origin story, revealed his number one social network and talked about some highlights from his Storm the Nation tour.
Jacob Elyachar: When did you first get interested in comedy?
Eric Schwartz: Comedy has been in my life since day one, but I never really got into it until my mom introduced me to Eddie Murphy. My mom should not have played me those records or audio cassettes because they were dirty. While they were dirty, his records were funny. I loved that he created a lot of characters and his work molded me into the comedian that I am today.
JE: Speaking of Eddie Murphy, who else is on your Mount Rushmore of Comedy?
ES: Jacob, I do not think Mount Rushmore is big enough to fit all the comedians who I look up to. It is tough for me to narrow the list down to four people.
JE: Your nickname is “Smooth-E.” Could you please tell my readers about your nickname’s origin story?
ES: I got the chance to do a radio show back in the day with Ellen K. She is one of the top radio DJs in Los Angeles. She used to be Ryan Seacrest’s sidekick and now has her own show. I was the sidekick on one of Ellen K’s earlier shows, and they asked me to come up with a nickname. After they gave me that assignment, I literally finished drinking a smoothie, and I thought of the stupidest thing that I could think of. My name is Eric, and it naturally starts with an E, so I became Smooth-E, like the drink. The nickname stuck with me as people caught onto it. While Smooth-E was my nickname, I think that “Eric Schwartz” is giving more love lately.
JE: Let’s talk about your special: Surrender to the Blender. It aired on Hulu for two years. Could you describe the special’s success and how it helped you expand your audience?
ES: I appreciate all the work that Hulu did to put Surrender to the Blender on their site. However, the most exposure that the special got was on Facebook. It started last year when I put several clips of the special onto my Facebook page, and the clips went viral. I have had several stages in my career when my content gained a lot of traction. I used to go viral before YouTube was created. The first was the e-mail stage, where I posted MP3 clips of my songs on my website and people could download them for free. Someone downloaded one of my Hanukkah songs, and they animated it. The cartoon went super viral, and you could see it everywhere! TV stations started to pick up the cartoon and radio stations played the track all the time. That is when I knew I had to start making videos. The next viral phase involved MySpace. When MySpace first came out, I was the number one comedian on their site. The reason why I was number one was that every time that I released a video, my content went viral all the time. The third phase was through YouTube. They picked me as one of their development channels for their development program. YouTube gave me the opportunity to work with incredible creators. Right now, the viral phase is on Facebook. I love how Facebook is very shareable. People like to tag their friends in videos. It used to be that you would focus on YouTube only, now Facebook has become my number one social network. In the last nine months, my Facebook channel went from 7,000 followers to almost 125,000. Also, some of my material that went viral before would hit another spike and go viral again. Facebook is the best! (laughs)
JE: You are in the final stages of your latest tour: Storm the Nation. What have been some of your favorite memories from the tour?
ES: The tour went through Southern California, which is where I am originally from. It is always cool to perform at your hometown because the people who have known you throughout your whole life get to see how much you have grown as a performer. Also, you want the people that did not support you like the bullies and ex-girlfriends to come to the show. You want them to come so that they can realize how big of an expletive they been their whole lives. You want them to go home and choke on their tears. On a lighter note, I just did a show in Rogers, Arkansas and there were some graphic designers that came to the show and saw the Storm the Nation poster. They told me: “We really liked the graphics, but we thought you would be doing weather jokes” and “Why are you dressed like a weatherman on your poster?” I thought that maybe they had a point there. On the poster, there is a huge storm coming and I am trying to fight it with an umbrella.
JE: This Thursday, you will be performing at the Record Bar in Kansas City. What can my Kansas City readers expect from your show?
ES: They cannot expect anything because I am going to hit them with surprises. My show is a lot different than your typical stand-up show. It is a stand-up comedy show at its core, but I mix multimedia with comedy. I call it: “MultiComedia.” While other comedians set up punchlines, I will do bits that are extended into songs. I love being on stage and feeding off the audience’s energy. It is a celebration every night.
For more information about Eric, visit his website.