Last week I met up with comedian Joe Timmins to take some photos and interview the dude about all sorts of silliness, including his upcoming show, The Punk Hunks of Comedy, at Geno’s in Portland. When I asked him where we should meet up for the photo shoot he said, “I want to have a tea party in an alley.” I laughed, assuming he was kidding. Joke’s on me because an hour later I was very much in an alley on Preble Street having a Twisted Tea party with sparklers and Joe Timmins. The following is what ensued.
AD: How did you get into the comedy scene?
JT: I grew up in Old Orchard around a lot of really funny people. My friends used to always tell me I should get up and do it. Then I started bartending at Slainte on comedy night [Thursday] and became friends with a lot of the comics. [Fellow comic] James Spizuoco started telling me I should go up, so I figured it was pretty much now or never. You shouldn’t say no to Spizuoco.
AD: I’ve seen your standup and it’s pretty raunchy. Is that why your nickname is Joe “Unbookable” Timmins?
JT: It was kind of a joke I started. A lot of comics do charity benefit shows to raise money for like AIDS and Downs Syndrome research. I can’t do those shows. It’s hard to get booked when I’m making fun of the diseases you’re raising money for.
AD: Yikes! Speaking of controversial stuff, you make some quasi-racist jokes. Do you think people might think you’re actually racist?
JT: Racism is for people whose brains don’t work right. Black, white, or Chinese Eskimo, we’re all in this together. We’re all equally broke and just wanna get drunk and have fun with our friends. If anything, I’m making fun of racist stereotypes. Besides, I have this one black friend and he said it was totally okay.
AD: Oh, lordy. You’re going to get me in trouble…let’s talk about your biggest comic influences?
JT: I mostly just watch Jeff Dunham DVDs. Racism AND puppetry?!?! Seriously though I love David Cross, Chappelle, Brian Posehn, and Patton Oswalt. I’ve been watching SNL pretty much since birth and was a HUGE fan of Kids In the Hall and The State. I think my raunchiness kinda comes from my childhood though. We were all nasty little dirty-mouthed trouble-making pricks in the Dorch.
AD: Kind of seems like not too much has changed since childhood…we’re in an alley drinking Twisted Tea! Where’s your favorite place to do stand-up in Maine?
JT: I think the consensus among all of us Portland comics is that Slainte is the place go on Thursdays. It’s where almost all of us got our start and met each other. Now it’s the perfect place for us to test out our new shit. If you can make a room full of your peers laugh, it’s definitely worth keeping. Over the last five years young comics could not have asked for a better host than Brian Brinegar. And now, Paul Hunt is picking right up where he left off.
AD: I can definitely attest to seeing some crazy stuff on Thursdays at Slainte. What’s the deal with this upcoming show at Geno’s–Punk Hunks? Is everyone truly both a punk and a hunk???
JT: Have you not seen Aharon Hebert and Ian Stuart? Those dudes are chiseled from granite, and not the cheap granite. The expensive kind. We’re gonna have to spray all the girls’ seats down after the show.
AD: Gosh you’re charming. And be careful what you say about Ian Stuart. Marcel Lulu might be reading this. So, if you got booked for Punk Hunks, doesn’t that contradict the Unbookable nickname?
AD: Yeah, like I said it kinda started as a joke I made when I was drunk on Twitter one night. I didn’t realize that it was gonna start showing up on flyers and shit. I guess I can’t really use it anymore. I should probably come up with something dumb like “Big Daddy French.”
AD: So what separates the Punk Hunks from other comedy shows in this town?
JT: We’ve done all this, the promoting, the ads, all of it on a very small budget. That’s the best way to do it. Too many artists, whether they be comics, bands or DJ’s, rely too much on clubs to promote for them. Then they get pissed when no one shows up to their show. That’s not how it works. If you want people to see and hear your shit you gotta get it out there. You see musicians do it all the time and it works for them. In this town, the guys I see putting in that extra mile are guys like Don Dumont, Kurt Baker, and Nate Shupe. Those dudes aren’t just talented at their respective craft, they’re talented at networking and getting people interested in what they’re doing onstage. That’s immensely important these days when small clubs have a strict budget for promotion. Shit, Dereloid won a pretty important award and didn’t know he was even nominated, that goes to show what the benefits of getting your name out there does. This town has too many talented artists for people to ever think they can possess a sense of entitlement. We’re doing comedy the way a grimy punk band would do it–all on our own. With that being said, if you see me shitfaced at some house party, I’m not an alcoholic, I’m networking.
AD: I’m Irish. I’ve heard that one before. What’s this “Off Beat Comedy” you are involved in? The name is suspect. Maybe I’m just dyslexic.
JT: OffBeat is a little open mic/workshop that I host alongside James Spizuoco and Will Green at Spring Point Tavern in South Portland the first and third Tuesday of each month. It got its name because I have a leaky valve and my heart beat is a little off so it kinda makes fun of my life threatening condition. It’s fun though. We all get together and work out new jokes for a couple hours. So if you’re a comic without boundaries and wanted to steal jokes from other comics before the general public hears them, come see us. I’ll be the guy with the bright green finger from eating dollar jello shots all night.
AD: Speaking of jello shots and bad decisions, what is Fish Day? You’re always talking about “Fish Day.”
JT: Fish Day is a little something that my friends and I created. Catholics say you should only eat fish on Fridays, which I think is bullshit. I’m a pretty hardcore atheist, but even if God was a real dude I don’t think he’d give two f$&@s if I ate a BLT on a Friday. So I decided that on Fridays we’d have no rules. It’s a good excuse to act like an asshole all day. Usually though it just consists of day drinking and night vomiting.
AD: Fish Day sounds scary. So how would you sum up your comedy experience so far?
JT: This is a thing I do because I love doing it. I got up and said shit and people laughed, what more can I ask for? So far I’ve met some really cool people, only a couple of shitheads, and had a fuckload of fun.
Joe then finished his Twisted Tea and we scooted next door to Slainte for a beer. And if you know anything about anything, then you know what happens in Slainte stays in Slainte. So that’s the end of this encounter, at least for your ears and eyes. However, if you want to see Joe “Unbookable” Timmins and definitely be offended by his jokes, check out the Punk Hunks show this Saturday, July 21st around 9pm at Geno’s Rock Club in Portland. It’s free. And it happens to fall on the day after Fish Day so I’m sure Joe will be in rare (or actually, pretty standard) form.
Images by Caroline Brown