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Episode 106 – Stand Up Comedian David Roth

What do stand-up comedy and filmmaking having in common? A lot actually. This week we delve into the world of comedy with David Roth and talk about advertising, finding your voice and the struggles of learning a new craft. Listen to this episode now or visit iTunes to download it to your device.


From the outside looking in, stand-up comedy looks like a dream. It costs nothing and you can practice it all the time. Wouldn’t it be great if we could practice our filmmaking at open mic nights? David Roth shares the last 3-years of his experience, from getting his start to finding his voice.

A Career in Advertising

David Roth worked for 8 years as a full-time copywriter including a stretch at Goodby a Silverstein & Partners where he worked with Timothy on a Modelo campaign. He now freelances in advertising but is working to divide his time so he can get more and more experience on stage.

The challenge of being in advertising, he says, is finding your voice because of the different layers of feedback coming from Creative Directors and Clients. And at the end of the day, advertising is not personal. It’s about writing for products. Timothy says he believes the same is true for commercial directors. 

During an employee performance review, David’s boss told him “we know you can nail comedy but if you want to be a leader at this organization you need to be able to do all different kinds of ads” and that’s when David realized he didn’t want to do anything but be funny.  

“Jerry Seinfeld doesn’t have to be emotional or smart, he just does funny”

So he quit full time advertising and took a class in stand up. He now works freelance and splits his time between advertising work and comedy. Keep a look out for David’s J.B. Smoove and Jim Gaffigan commercial.

Stand Up Comedy

David is currently performing 4-5 nights a week. He tells us about finding stage time and why San Francisco is a good place for him right now. In filmmaking, we’re often told that if we really want to do it we need to move to Los Angeles. Is New York the same for comedy? David tells us about the different reputations each city has and how San Francisco fits into it.

Believe it or not, Alrik has an interest in trying stand up. Does David think Alrik has a chance of being any good right out the gate? 

Right now David is getting paid very little for stand up, (sometimes it’s only a half of a sandwich). So if it’s not about the money, what is it about? Well, it’s about finding yourself and finding your point of view. And being funny. The goal is to make people laugh. In filmmaking, we only get to practice our craft on occasion. David gets to practice every week. Can we apply that mentality to filmmaking and try to make a movie every month just to keep our skills honed? We break down the benefits of doing small projects but also the value of scaling up.

Finding your voice

Talk about a healthy goals, David is working towards a stage time and not worried about the money or fame. In short, he’s not worried about the results. He’s focused on the craft and figuring out who he is as a comedian. His biggest struggle is finding his voice. He’s got good jokes, but who is this character he’s playing on stage?

He’s currently going for the lovable loser, but is that working for him? He had a conversation with a friend last night who says it’s not and he should try something else. David admits there’s an inconsistency with his performance and that sometimes he’s crushing it and sometimes he’s failing hard. As he thinks about his point of view and how to perform his jokes we have a conversation about David’s real-life personality versus his stage personality and how he plans to make a decision about what his voice will be.

We apply the same philosophy to filmmaking. There’s the voice you want to be and then there’s the voice that’s true to you. The trick is finding that voice and building your skills onto it. But what is your voice and how do you find it? And is finding a voice a conscious or subconscious activity? How self aware do we need to be? 

Contact David

Go see David’s show at Festa on this Sunday, June 25th:

You can find  David on Facebook :

His website:

His upcoming comedy appearances:


Contact Us

Thanks for listening and a big thanks to Rob for being on the show!

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Published inAdvertisingCareerFilmmaking