Most local comics with high aspirations start plotting their move to Los Angeles or New York the moment they get more than two laughs per minute.
Not Chad Daniels. Despite nearly 20 years of touring and appearances on late-night TV, the comedian still calls Fergus Falls, Minn., home and expresses no desire to relocate to Hollywood and star in a sitcom about a befuddled dad with a much younger wife.
His loyalty is paying off. Acme Comedy Company, the Twin Cities club where he started doing open-mic nights, is sponsoring his debut Saturday as a headliner at the Woman’s Club of Minneapolis, which is on its way to becoming one of the premier comedy venues in the country.
In addition, Daniels is featured in the upcoming film “I Need You to Kill,” a documentary about Acme owner Louis Lee’s 2014 trip to Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore with three of his favorite American comics, Daniels, Pete Lee and Tom Segura. The film, which drops Dec. 5 on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and other on-demand sources, is less a travelogue than a sort of test — to see if seasoned performers like Daniels can win fans overseas, or if their material gets lost in translation.
Daniels, 42, spoke earlier this month about his Asian experience and graduating to the next level here at home.
Q: How did your material go over with audiences in Asia?
A: I don’t know if they’re ready for American-style comedy, but maybe that’s just me being weird. Acme has kind of molded its audiences for anything-goes comedy, but that doesn’t really fly over there yet. They loved the dirty stuff, but any bits in which you weren’t acting like a five-star parent, they were like, “Oooh. You’re not very nice.”
Q: Louis Lee has talked about the potential of opening Acme-like clubs in Asia. Would they work?
A: Only if someone like Louis went over there and personally took care of the comedians and helped the crowds know what they’re getting into. It would take a while. They are a little behind us. Hong Kong kind of reminded me of ’80s comedy in America, where it was such a boom and everybody was going up to do it, no matter how good they were. One of the main reasons we went over there is so Louis could help the bookers at those clubs avoid what happened here in the ’90s when everything crashed.
Q: At one point in the documentary, you talk about how Acme wasn’t booking you enough because Louis said you had the “stink of the road” on you. What does that mean?
A: When you’re on the road too long, you can end up doing hack material, like making fun of the names of gas stations or talking about going to the mall. Nothing about your life. Louis has always been a guy who lets us know that by the time you walk offstage, if they don’t remember your name, at least have them remember your life.
Q: Your show this weekend is being advertised as sort of a graduation event, as if you’ve outgrown Acme. Does it feel that way to you?
A: I’m really stoked, but I’m going to miss the ambience of Acme. There’s a smell there that just makes everything calmer. It’s a strange feeling I don’t get anywhere else. Right away after the show Saturday, I’m heading to Acme just to hang out. It won’t feel like a Minneapolis show unless I’m hanging out at that bar.