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West Jordan Journal

West Jordan Alum already making name for himself in comedy

Aug 30, 2018 09:47AM ● By Jana Klopsch

Alex Velluto is always looking for more great ideas to work into his stand up. Catch him at a club near you, or on his first special, “Spurious.” (Bry Cox)

By Bob Bedore |  bob@mycityjournals.com

Famed comedian Lenny Bruce once said, “The role of a comedian is to make the audience laugh, at a minimum of once every 15 seconds”. 

No one in their right mind would want to take on that type pressure. 

Luckily, we have comedians like West Jordan’s Alex Velluto who are brave enough to take the stage with only a thin microphone stand for a shield and provide us with what has often been called the best medicine: laughter. 

And not only does he survive in the comedy world that can be a constant pressure cooker for many—he thrives. Alex has become a staple in Utah, often headlining at places such as Wiseguys and Dry Bar Comedy. He’s also competed in several comedy festivals, including winning the Finger Lakes Comedy Festival in Ithaca, New York, and being named “Best of Fest” of the Golden Spike Comedy Festival. His videos are also raking up views, and you can catch his special “Alex Velluto: Spurious” on Amazon. 

And now he can always look up and see his name on a marquee. “It’s weird. I always check the spelling,” Velluto said.

Not bad for a guy from West Jordan High School. 

Like many comedians, Velluto started as a class clown.

“I took at creative writing class (at WJHS) that I really liked,” he said. “We were supposed to write slam poems to read at a poetry slam. Since they could be whatever we wanted, I decided to write comedy. When I read the poems, I was basically doing stand-up.” 

That first bit of performing started Velluto’s love for comedy.

“It gave me ‘false confidence’ because it’s not hard to be funnier than slam poetry,” Velluto said, admitting that confidence (even the false kind) is very important to a stand-up comic.

From there Velluto started doing open mics, some at the school. Reminiscing on his first show, Velluto admitted, “I remember at the time, I thought I’d done well, but when I think of the jokes I told, there’s absolutely no way it went as well as I thought.” 

For the most part, those days are behind Alex. He is considered one of the sharpest writers in the market, and his material is a brilliant mix of self-deprecating humor and highly intellectual jokes. 

“It might seem strange to people, but I like making fun of myself,” Velluto said. “That way I get to control the narrative, and I feel that when people are laughing at self-deprecating humor, they’re emphasizing with the comedian because they can relate to that feeling.” 

That can really be true when he talks about his love life. We can all relate to many of his jokes, like, “People think I’m gay, but I’m not gay. I’m… what do they call it when you like girls and they don’t like you? Lonely. That’s what I am… lonely.” To be fair, Velluto is dating now, so don’t feel too badly for him. 

But it’s the smart stuff that can really stick with an audience. Velluto might be the only comedian who can get people to laugh at a census taking joke, or by pointing out that the Declaration of Independence is perhaps the greatest break up letter ever written. 

One has to wonder, how does he come up with his material? 

“A friend of mine, Rodney Norman (another great Utah comic who has attracted national attention), told me that you should write about things you like, or things you are frustrated about,” Velluto said. “That makes it weird when you get complemented on a joke because you get a compliment, which is nice, but you’re still frustrated by material.” 

And there lies the basis of comedy. We all know about the laughs, but most comedy comes at the expense, or pain, of someone else. Think about the classic Abbot and Costello bit, “Who’s on first?” It’s funny, unless you take it from the standpoint of the guy who just wants to know the names of the players. Or the classic groin-shot videos we’ve seen a million times on TV. There is great comedy in other’s pain. 

Luckily for Velluto, there isn’t too much pain for him in his act. But even with a comedian of his record, a few bad shows can make their way into the win-loss column. 

“I was doing an outdoor festival,” he said. “It was raining, and everyone was in a tent that was 50 years away from the stage. I could have been doing well, but because they were so far away from the stage, I had no idea.  of the only people I could get to come up to the stage was a 10-year-old girl. I said something like, ‘I’m killing it with this little kid,’ and she yelled back, “I have not laughed once!” 

With a laugh, Velluto adds, “That was the worst heckle I’ve ever gotten, and I think the worst I’ll ever get. Other hecklers need not apply.” 

One thing that appeals to many about Alex’s comedy is his ability to keep his material clean. 

“It’s sometimes hard to stay clean, because most people’s minds go to the dirty,” Velluto said. “But if I can push through the initial dirty thought, I can usually find the clever alternative. Even though dirty things still make me laugh.” 

“But don’t think that clean comedy is morally superior to dirty (blue) comedy,” he continues. “I just try to stay clean because it seems more inclusive. Hopefully, you won’t even notice that the material is clean, just funny. That being said, it really depends on who you ask. I’m looked at as a clean act, but every now and again — especially in Utah County — they look at me like I’m edgy and unpredictable.” 

Census taking and Declaration of Independence material is not for everyone. 

When not working on material for the stage, Alex follows his beloved Utah Jazz and is working on other projects. He’s been writing for local commercials and has started a podcast (Free Lunch with Alex Velluto) where he interviews random people in exchange for a free lunch. He credits his parents (an illustrator and a teacher) for teaching him the values, support and confidence needed to pursue his dreams. 

Don’t miss a chance to catch Alex live. He works hard to make his material spot on, concise and crafted to get the most laughs out of every word. If you can’t catch him live, search out his videos and specials, such as “Spurious” or the new one from Dry Bar Comedy called “Thirst,” or listen in on his podcast “Free Lunch with Alex Velluto.” 

With Alex, Lenny Bruce’s definition of a comedian’s role is well defined.