Speak Easy: Tabari McCoy


When he isn’t working as an educational assistant at local schools, or doing gameday PR for the Bengals, or updating his McCoy on Movies blog, Tabari McCoy is moonlighting as one of the city’s most prolific standup comedians. This month marks a decade on-stage for the joker-of-all-trades.

How did you get into comedy? In a very backwards way. Being a reporter in my past life, I wanted to do a story on the local comedy scene, because I don’t think comedians get enough respect as artists. As part of the story, I had a friend who was doing standup, and I remember watching him and saying, If he can do this, I know I can do this. So I went up.

Where do you get inspiration for material? If I see something where there’s a funny angle I think I can get away with, that’s usually how I write my jokes. I have a joke currently in my repertoire about the most adult thing I’ve ever done: I bought a carpet cleaner. And I was excited about it. I shopped around for it, bouncing in and out of department stores. That’s a terrible day in a man’s life.

Do you have a comedic accomplishment you’re proudest of? The fact that I have an album that people can actually buy. A physical manifestation to prove that, not only did I do comedy, I was good enough to get somebody to give me an album deal.

What’s it like being a Cincinnati-based comedian? It’s a very well respected city for the fact that it has enough venues. You can also get to other big cities within a few hours: Dayton, Columbus, Indianapolis, Louisville. But there are cons. If you’re not in L.A. or New York, the industry doesn’t take you as seriously.

How daunting is it to be an up-and-comer in the industry? If you get to the point where you’re breaking even, you’re happy. But whether you are a national headliner or someone who does an occasional show at the local VFW, making people laugh is intoxicating. It’s the only drug I have.

So you aren’t a comedian who drinks during the show? I am dumb enough sober.

Tabari McCoy, Go Bananas Comedy Club, April 4, 8 p.m., gobananascomedy.com. His album, Laughing with a Panther, is available on iTunes and Amazon.

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