Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing not only musicians and actors but also comedians like the late George Carlin, Robert Klein and Emo Phillips, so when I heard that a new-to-me comic was coming to Portland for a show at the Portland Empire on Nov. 1, I inquired and obtained an interview with the headliner, Rob Christensen. I called the cell number he gave me and learned firsthand about his comedic history and long-term plans. I began with a very generic question to get the ball rolling.

Q: How are things going for you nowadays?
Christensen: Yeah, I’m hanging out in a hotel room in Rochester, New Hampshire, getting ready to perform at Curlie’s Comedy Club tonight.

Q: How busy are you?
Christensen: I’m trying to go do stand-up every night, but right now I’m doing 15 shows a month or something like that.

Q: Do you get up to Maine often?
Christensen: No, this is actually the second time I’ve ever been to Maine. My girlfriend’s family’s from Maine, so the first time was visiting them,  you know, family stuff. This time I’m coming up for a long period, and I’m trying to do as many shows as possible.

Q: Oh, cool. You’re performing at Portland Empire on Nov. 1. Now you said your first trip to our fair state was visiting family, so this is your first gig at Empire, right?
Christensen: Well, I did a show there the first time I visited, but it was just a short set in the middle of the show. Now, I’m coming back to do the headliner spot.

Q: Nice, man, congratulations! How long have you been doing this?
Christensen: Oh, man, I’ve been doing comedy total probably 14 years, but I did a lot of, like, sketch and improv in the beginning. With stand-up I just dabbled. I got really serious about doing stand-up in 2009.

Q: Has it been good to you?
Christensen: Yeah, stand-up’s been good to me! Stand-up has been good, but the entertainment business is a tough business. I keep them pretty separate. Doing shows and doing stand-up, the actual art of the performance, it’s good. It’s a positive thing, and I keep the business side separate so it doesn’t ruin it.

Q: Well, it sounds like you’re tackling this very intelligently, which is the best way to do it.
Christensen: (Laughter) Well, thanks! You know, man, I learned through trial and error so now that I’m, like, 14 years into comedy. I sound like I have some intelligence (laughter), but in the beginning it wasn’t that way.

Q: I suppose I should, for full disclosure and transparency, state that I usually interview musicians. But I have done a few comedians over the years such as George Carlin, Bobcat Goldthwait, Rita Rudner and Ellen Degeneres.
Christensen: I like Ellen. I watched her special when I was a kid, before I even thought about doing comedy. It was one of the first ones I watched that really stuck in my head. It was her HBO special.

Q: Just out of curiosity, where else, other than Portland House of Music and Portland Empire, will you be performing here in Maine?
Christensen: I’ll be in Lincoln on the 14th of October, and then I’ll be in Auburn on the 23rd. Then in November, I’ve got a whole big run: I’ve got Bangor, I’ve got Auburn again, and a whole bunch of stuff.

Q: Yeah, it sounds like you’re getting all around Maine this time around. So I’ve got to ask, what can folks expect from your shows?
Christensen: Ha! I do like a mixture of classic jokes and then it slowly works its way to point-of-view stuff, but it’s definitely my opinions. I’m not a ‘dirty’ stand-up. I wouldn’t call myself ‘blue,’  but I’ll talk about whatever topics I want to.

Q: How far afield do you get with your touring?
Christensen: I will go anywhere. I did an Edinburgh festival in Scotland. I’ve been to most all of the states. I haven’t been to Alaska or Hawaii yet, but I’ll go anywhere. And that’s the plan: I’m trying to go full comedy now, full touring, to realize what my potential as a comedian can be. I’m from Brooklyn, New York, born and raised, but I’ve been in L.A. for the last 12 years and it’s always been like stand-up and something else going on. So months ago, me and my girlfriend, we put all of our stuff in storage and got rid of our apartment and hit the road. Now we live wherever my stand-up is. She has a job that she can do remotely. She does copywriting and I’m relying on my stand-up money and we’re just trying to make it work. The goal being that I get as much stage time as possible, write as much material as possible, and realize what my actual potential will be, ya know?

Q: Now, I noticed on your website that “actor” is in there as well as writer. Could you talk a little about those two aspects of your life?
Christensen: Yeah, well, I do screenwriting and I did a lot of sketch writing in the last year and a half. I’ve put 65 sketch videos that I wrote, produced, directed and acted in in some way in all of them. My sketch group is called Three Letter Crew and they were all based in the world of graffiti, so I also do production, directing and I can work the camera. Stand-up comedy is my No. 1 thing and it’s what I love to do, but in second position is producing videos. I just love film. I love TV. I’ve done indie pilots, I’ve acted in some indie movies and I did some acting on Comedy Central.

Q: Sounds like you wear a lot of hats, which I think is a good thing nowadays, too.
Christensen: Yeah, the hat that I wear is stand-up, but that hat’s got so many other feathers in it, ya know?

Q: Yes, I think I do. Is there anything, Rob, that you’d like me to pass on to the folks reading this article?
Christensen: Yeah, my two big Portland shows where I need the people to show up are at the House of Music on the 27th of October and at the Empire Theater on Nov. 1st. Also check me out on brooklynbob.com, watch my videos. My social media is @roblovesbagels.com, all spelled out, easy to remember. And my sketch group is, as I said, @threelettercrew. And if they can check me out at any of those places or at my live show, that’s all I need from them, and I’ll give them all the comedy that I have! (www.brooklynbob.com where you can find all his tour stops in Maine!)

Lucky Clark has spent 50 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.


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