Comedy has always been a great unifier in an often-divided world. The rules might have changed a bit in today’s progressive landscape, but seeing a great comedy show can still provide a unique filter for what’s happening around us—and at the very least give an audience just a little bit of an escape from the daily grind.
Comedians Catfish Cooley and Andrew Conn have been providing that for their audiences for several years now, with their individual brands of country comedy. Together, they’ve been taking their Nitro Comedy tour across the country with sellout shows and overwhelming audience response.
The tour comes to Victory North on Oct. 4 and 5, and we chatted with Conn ahead of the two-night stint.
How did you get started in comedy?
I was always into sports growing up, but my mom was always like, “You need to be up on stage.” I was like, “No. I play ball.” She passed a couple of years ago, and two weeks later I put out my first comedy video on social media. It went viral right off the bat, and I haven’t stopped since.
Did she always see that side of you?
Yeah! I was always the class clown. She’d get calls from the school saying, “Your son is acting up again.” I was just that kid in class. I was always trying to make kids laugh and make their day better.
How did this tour come about, and how did you and Catfish meet?
We met when we first got into comedy. It was very, very early. It was one of the first shows for me and for him. We’d gotten a call from this guy to perform in a little hole-in-the-wall bar in Kentucky. We met there and performed that night, and we did terrible [laughs]. The format of it was crazy—they were like, “Andrew, we want you to do 20 minutes, and then Catfish can do 20 minutes. And then you come back up and do 20 minutes.” It confused me and Catfish, you know? [laughs].
After that, we always stayed in touch. I was doing my own thing and started touring around, and I guess Catfish was telling his manager, “You need to see Andrew on stage.” They flew in and watched one of my shows in Nashville, Tennessee, and ever since then it’s been Andrew and Catfish. We just keep growing and growing together.
You mentioned that your career really took off with social media and viral videos. Do you feel like in this day and age, social media and the Internet is a valuable tool for comedians?
Well, I mean, one viral video is not going to change your life. Not in comedy, anyway. It’s a process. You might put out one viral video and then your next one might not do anything. That’s where a lot of people will give up and eventually fade out. But I just kept grinding at it and putting more videos out, seeing what worked for me. The last video I put out is at 5.2 million views. You have to figure out what works for you and your style.
And it’s more about how you capitalize on that kind of success.
Yeah, you have to capitalize. It’s not easy by any means.
In this kind of tour, do you have bits or jokes that are staples in your set? How does your act evolve?
We’ll keep the same show for, like, a year. And whenever we go back to a place, it’ll be a totally different show. I don’t like to do a lot of writing; I’ll just write down a topic and then go up and straight improv it all. There’s never one show that’s going to be the same, and I take pride in that. You could come back and see me next year and it might be the same topic, but you’re not going to get the same show.
On that note, do you tend to absorb what’s going on in the world? And do you feel that current events, politics, etc. are essential fodder for comedy right now?
Oh, yeah. 100 percent. Right now, in the world we live in, you have to watch what you say and do. But I think it’s like Kevin Hart said: “If we can live together, we can laugh together.” I take that and run with it.
Has there been a particular moment on the tour that stands out to you?
When we performed at the Hard Rock Casino in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that’s our biggest show to date. We sold out 2,600 people. At the end of the show, the standing ovation that I got was so much that you could feel the stage shaking.
Having gotten into this somewhat later in life, that type of response must feel really good.
Yeah. A lot of people in the comedy world who started out on social media don’t really look at us as “real” comedians. But us being able to go in there and sell the place out and have people react was us saying, “We’re here to stay.”
Is there a moment in Catfish’s set that you look forward to each night?
Absolutely. We’re together as much as we are with our own families, and I love that man like a brother. I have to say that with Catfish’s standup, it’s the energy that you get on stage. You will not get that with any other comedian. That man puts his heart and soul into every performance, you know? Catfish is a born entertainer. I can say that for sure. His energy on stage is bar none.