After working for years as a waiter and bartender at the Addison Improv , Justin Foster finds himself taking the spotlight June 2nd in front of the brick wall of Dallas’ premiere comedy venue. Foster is also a regular part of Pugs n’ Company radio show on 1190 AM CNN Radio.
Justin’s road from serving drinks to dishing jokes has taken some twists and turns. “It’s weird sometimes, “I have literally gone from doing a set standing on someone’s fireplace mantle in their house to hosting on stage at the Flamingo Casino in Las Vegas” says Foster.
Foster claims he didn’t really think of this as a career path until he was submerged in Comedy at the Improv. “I started thinking about it, then I mentioned to a few of my co workers and they were all going ‘you should do it’ so I wrote a set and gave it a shot.”
Before stepping on the stage for the first time there was always those times in the bar that have become fodder for his routine, the days when the DJ didn’t show up or the MC was sick and Justin jumped at the chance to grab the mike, then had to slip back into the darkened club to serve drinks. “My first time was really like taking a hit of Comedy Crack, I was hooked.”
Today he bar-tends a few nights a week at another Addison bar, we will not identify it here because watching the customers works its way into his act. “You see people hook up right in front of you, and as the bartender we are your buddy your confidant and people will tell you some pretty amazing things.”
Working there I can work a few nights a week, make enough money so I can take more time for the Comedy. The owners are really cool and I have know them for years and if I need to take a week because I have a gig they are like OK, great.”
Much of his routine centers around what he sees in bars, working and growing up in North East Dallas and relationships. “I don’t do the Topical newsy stuff because it is so dynamic, I mean you can have a killer set about something that is hot this second and a week later that entire set has to be abandoned.” Says Foster “But everyone can relate to doing something stupid or the reality of living a pay check to paycheck existence.”
The Vegas gig was one of the strangest and most amazing things in his career. “I had to try out for it, the job was the Master of Ceremonies for a Body Paint Competition,” Foster laughs at how strange it was to be walking around watching naked women get painted with designs by artists “I mean how cool was that? The first time I went to Vegas I was like 12 and spent it in an arcade playing Mortal Combat then I go back, not only surrounded by beautiful naked women but my roommate Anthony’s band, Smooth Choppy, also got the gig to play. So I got to hit Vegas with like 20 of my buddy’s and we were treated like stars by the organizers.”
The reality of coming back to Dallas and slipping back behind the bar, the Radio and the comedy clubs in the North Texas area is all part of paying the dues to get to the top. “I have done shows at Barber Shop, A Mexican Restaurant, in front of a metal band down in Deep Elum, I am out there trying to tell jokes while they are setting up their gear right behind me.”
Foster says that the oddest has to be a Swingers Bar “I was literally telling jokes in front of a stripper pole with people having dinner in front of me and all kinds of stuff going on behind me. I felt like the hot chick in a bar, all these women coming up and asking me to dance and their husbands going come on dance with my wife.”
Foster just was the featured act, the setup man if you will for MadTV’s Aries Spears during his set at the Addison Improv “Being exposed to guys who have made it has been great. Some of them will listen to your set and give a few critiques and others just listening to them dig a hole for themselves is great.” Foster really admires the somewhat more costic styles of Bill Burr, Greg Geraldo and Doug Standhope “I just love watching someone like Standhope dig a hole for himself and you sit there and wonder where he is going and then watch as he brings the crowd along for the ride.”
So much of Comedy is just the flip side of Pain and the temptations available in the bar environment of most clubs can lead to some very dicey times for people coming up. “That is really where being a bartender is a blessing, I mean I have been in the world of alcohol for so long a comedy club having an open bar tab for me is not something I am going to let myself get in trouble, Clubs know who is a problem and they simply will not book you if you become a problem”
There are other club owners who also will not book comedians who are actually happy in their private lives with the idea that only those with the extremes of dysfunction can be funny. With Foster he recently moved in with his long time girlfriend and even this has become fodder for his act.
“She is great. She works days and I work nights so we don’t really have the chance to wear each other out. That and she is so supportive, she makes me write three pages a day before I can get out of bed. Those pages may be just “I gotta Pee I gotta Pee….” Foster continues “I mean we just got a little hairless dog that I have to put sunscreen on before I go outside, emasculating, you bet, but funny -absolutely.”
Justin Foster finds himself going up on stage at the Addison Improv June 2nd and Pugs and Company daily will also be appearing all around the state up to Oklahoma and over to Louisiana over the summer. Come and check him out
Improv Comedy Club
4980 Belt Line Road
Dallas, TX 75254-7037