I caught up with Will Spottedbear on the phone as he drove from Minneapolis to Oklahoma City a few days ago. Spottedbear says being a joke-slinger is like being a truck driver. You’re always on the road. He is not, however, always on his way to Maverick McWilliams’ house, as he was when we spoke.
“You know Maverick?” he asked.
Yup. I knew Maverick. I’d seen the comely young Mr. McWilliams perform many times at open mics and his own headlining shows in Albuquerque, and considered him one of the funniest comics in town—even if he was a Republican. And you have to understand, those two things—intentional hilarity and Republicanism—have never, ever gone together for me, until McWilliams. I still feel dirty when I think about it.
“Well, he lives in Oklahoma now.”
Wait, what? Man. That sucks. Um, Albuquerque? We need to talk. Please stop hemorrhaging your brilliant ones. Please?
“I’m sleeping on his couch tonight,” said Spottedbear. “We got real close, when I was doing comedy on the regular in Albuquerque.”
Like his close pal McWilliams, Spottedbear is comely too, though I cannot tell you how old he is, because when I asked (as reporters are supposed to do) he said, “After 18, who cares? I’m an old man. My body’s weird. Just say that.”
Will Spottedbear was once an Albuquerque local. He is still the genius comedian he was then, and like so many other local bright-lings he left for a bigger city with more opportunities, in his case, Minneapolis. You know, Minneapolis, where in 2016 this former Burque boy was named the best comedian in town. That Minneapolis. The accolades that city gave him catapulted him to a comedy contest in Seattle, where he was a semifinalist. And, guess what? Y’alls get to go hear him spit his bit this week, right here in the 505. He’s at Boiler Monkey Friday, March 8 at 6pm, and at Red Velvet Underground Saturday, March 9 at 9pm.
“I’m not just saying this,” he said, saying that but not just saying that. “Albuquerque is my favorite comedy town. I love performing there. I come back all the time.”
Um. Why? Why is this one of his favorite towns? Other than that he once lived here and had to leave for better opportunities?
“The comics there. Man. They are just really supportive. So I got mad love for this scene, just because of how nice everyone there was to me when I was starting out. It’s nice to come down and see these people who mean so much to me.”
And this, my friends, is the thing many people don’t understand about comedians. When they’re not onstage making fun of people, they are off stage, caring very deeply about people. Too deeply. So deeply, in fact, that life gets heavy and, yes, lots of comedians are actually really effing depressed—including Spottedbear, who has found a unique way of dealing with depression.
“I wrote a comic book. It’s also a coloring book. It’s called Depressed Superhero. I sell them when I’m out. It’s honestly just about dealing with depression.”
In that case, we’ll order four … ty hundred … thousand. Thanks!
What advice would Spottedbear give to new comics, or old comics who just keep screwing up but don’t give up?
“Okay. Think about comedy like this. You get up on that stage, and it’s like talking to your partner’s parents for the first time. They don’t want to hate you, but they know you’re fucking something they care a lot about. That’s a good crowd. That’s the best case. A rough crowd is like talking to your ex’s parents. They’re a little mad at you, but if you work hard enough you might still win them over, but probably not. I always look at shows like a fight, except instead of trying to hurt someone you’re trying to persuade somebody to do a very particular thing, which is to laugh.”
And how, praytell, does one do that?
“It’s like teaching. You gotta be a little more generalized, and then walk people to the specificness. The thing about Albuquerque that I love that’s way different from Minnesota is the way there’s a lot more military people around. I was in the military, and a lot of my jokes are about that. In Albuquerque, every dude with a ponytail you see, all the hippies, they’re veterans. It’s a weird thing, but guaranteed, one hundred percent, any guy with a ponytail is a combat vet. When I talk about veteran stuff in Albuquerque I don’t have to walk them to the specifics like I do in Minneapolis.”
What else is Spottedbear gonna be joking about?
“Comic books. I’m a huge comic book nerd. Not like Sheldon from “Big Bang Theory” or anything. Not trying to alienate anyone. I’ll talk about growing up in Pittsburgh, about being native but everyone thinks you’re white, there’s a lot to mine there. I’m excited. I’m just excited to be back in Albuquerque, because I can sincerely tell you it is like no other place I have ever been, and most of all, it is nothing whatsoever like Seattle. Seattle is a bunch of normal people trying to act weird, but Albuquerque? Albuquerque is a bunch of weird people, trying to act normal.”