In comedy circles across New York, Andre D Thompson is considered the next to blow. A staple at Carolines on Broadway, New York Comedy Club, The Comic Strip Live, and other venues across the city, Thompson has been performing stand-up since he was 18 years old. The New York native is also an experienced media personality, having interviewed superstars such as DJ Khaled, Lil Yachty, and Camila Cabello for Music Choice. His career further accelerated earlier this year, when the 27-year-old was announced as a finalist in the 2019 StandUp NBC competition. That win led to another opportunity for Thompson– a coveted stand-up slot on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” While that performance may be the biggest door to open thus far, there is only greater in store for the talented entertainer. Check out our exclusive interview with Andre D Thompson below!
LIFE ENTERTAINMENT: What made you want to start doing comedy?
ANDRE D THOMPSON: I was always watching comedy. My pops and my family were comedy fans. It was always around, and I guess I was always interested. Then I remember in junior high school… you know the Scholastic Book Fairs?
ADT: We had those. I saved all my points and everything, and got a Bruce Bruce book.
LE: Wait, Bruce Bruce wrote a book?
LE: A children’s book?
ADT: No, because it was Bruce. That [book] slipped through the cracks because in the back of the book was his comedy album. I gave them all my points. I got the Bruce Bruce book with the comedy album, and then I had a SanDisk MP3 player and I burnt it over. Literally, almost every single day, I would be listening to random jokes for no reason. I don’t know why. And then I had the idea. I came home, I told my family– I had a whole announcement like, “I want to be a comedian.” They was just like, “Go to school, n****.” Now looking back, I get why.
I only recently started being a person that knows people in comedy, because of recent successes and s*** like that. Coming from an immigrant family in Jamaica, there’s no Hollywood s***. None of us know anything about that, so I get why the first time I had the idea, they were like, “No, n****. Do what we came over here for.”
Then I went and did a bunch of other s***. Every other thing I could think of to get involved in… sports, whatever else. Then at 18, [the idea] came up again. I don’t know what set it off again in my brain, but it got triggered again. I remember I googled “open mic” and found The Comic Strip. In my brain, I was like, “I’m going to keep this s*** secret. I’m going to just get up there, and I’m going to end up on HBO. Then one day I’m going to come home and be like, ‘Yo, I got to go. Chris Rock’s outside.'” I called [The Comic Strip], I set it up, and then I just went and never stopped going.
LE: When you first started, how much material did you have?
ADT: I had no concept at all. I remember the first performance, I was eating it for a good chunk where it was just silent. I was trying stuff, and they were just silent. Then somebody in the crowd did what they were suppose to do, they made fun of my a**. [The audience member] said something, and then that triggered me to behave like myself, and then I just started snapping. Then the little snaps got some laughs. I was getting some chuckles, and then that was it. I’d run my mouth.
LE: What’s one of the biggest lessons that you’ve learned from those days?
ADT: You really don’t know what the f*** is coming. You don’t know when, you don’t know who’s watching, you don’t know what set is going to count, you don’t know what set is not going to count. The biggest thing I learned is you don’t know s***. Just relax, shut up, keep showing up, keep working.
LE: Congrats on your “Tonight Show” appearance! Everybody’s been talking about that. Was that your TV debut?
ADT: I didn’t realize it was my TV debut, because I’ve had things before where people said, “I’ve seen you on TV.” In my brain, if you say you seen me on TV, then that’s my debut– but this is the one people give a f*** about. But I say this is a TV debut too, because this is the one where I’m getting calls from different countries. Family in Jamaica is like, “Hello! How you been?” Energy is changing a little bit more with this one. The other ones, they realized it was on channel 1002 or some s***, and it was like “That can’t be important.”
LE: And you dropped an f-bomb on “The Tonight Show”?
ADT: This is crazy… the night before I was at the Comedy Cellar, and I did the same set. I think I ran it seven times. I wasn’t up there cursing crazy. I must have let a half a “s*** ” slip out one time. Then on “Fallon” day, it was rehearsal. I did the rehearsal and they were like, “Listen, man, rehearsals are just that. It’s just a formality. Don’t get into your head because you might not get any laughs. They’re [warning me] like, “Listen, you might bomb in there. Just say the jokes. Don’t worry about anything. This is just for practice.” And then I’m getting laughs and it’s going great! It was going fine; no curses. Did not curse.
Now, it’s time for the show. I feel like my nerves get mixed with the excitement. Then whatever chemistry I have creates a high level of excitement. I feel like it’s all just different versions of [being high-strung]. I guess maybe I got the nervous mixed with excitement and then “f***” slipped out. I did not do it on purpose. Some people thought I did it on purpose; it just slipped out.
Instantly, as I’m saying it, I’m like, “I f***ed up. That’s it. The one thing they told me not to do, I did. This is over. I’m not getting invited to the chair. Jimmy’s not going to speak to me after the show.” I’m thinking this is done. I’m like, “Just finish your set, and shake your hands, and go home. You had a nice shot. UPS is hiring.” I thought it was over. Then the show ends. If you watch the clip, you see me turn a little bit away from [Fallon], and he has to tap me to bring me over to the chair because I assumed I wasn’t going. He brings me up to the chair, and still came over to my dressing room after and everything.
ADT: All of the good s*** happened. Right after I said “F***,” the next line got an applause break, and then another one came up. That helped contrast me [cursing]. The biggest thing was, I was in my head about it. Nobody else seemed to care. That’s what was crazy. I was the one going, “Oh my God, I’m ruined.” Everybody else is like, “That was great!”
LE: What’s next for you?
ADT: Put it this way, I’m going after everything. Last June, if you had asked, “What’s next for you?” I would have said, “I don’t know.” After doing StandUp NBC in 2019 and becoming a finalist, that’s what led to “Fallon.” Then some people started to talk to me about certain ideas of like, goal-setting and different things like that. Then I made a list: “Between 2021-2022, I’m going to do it like this.” I tried to break it down. I felt like the “Fallon” thing was for 2022. Like, “I might get that then.” I’m thinking way ahead; then it just popped up. It just started to happen.
I remember doing 30 minutes before I could do 30 minutes. That was probably three or four years into comedy. Cristian Duran couldn’t do a show. He’s a n**** that could do 30 minutes. He has that time. He was just asking his friends like, “Can you do it?” Bald-faced lie, I’m like, “Yes.” Never in my life did 30 minutes. I’m three to four years in comedy, I don’t know s***. I went up there and I pulled it off. I don’t know how, but I did it. I ain’t never going to be up there on some “too cool to try” s***. You’re definitely going to see effort. I want this to go. I’ll be trying, and hopefully, it will work out. I try to make it work out.
Subscribe to the podcast “Between Spots with Andre D Thompson,” with new episodes airing weekly on all major streaming platforms. Also follow @AndreDThompson on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for more information and upcoming shows, including a headlining performance at Carolines on Broadway on Nov. 17.