Q: How did you get into comedy?
A: I finished school at Kent State University in Ohio and… my folks live in New York City so I just wanted to crash on their couch and spend time in New York and get a crappy job and hang out with them for a little bit.
I ended up getting a job at Caroline’s Comedy Club. I walked in and I’m like, “Hey, I’m looking for a job,” and the manager’s like, “Oh, we just fired somebody. What do you want to do?” I said, “I’ll do anything.” And he said, “Come back tomorrow afternoon.”
So I started working at this comedy club and I started watching all these young comics at the time, like [Dave] Chapelle was just getting recognized at the time. And I just thought, “That looks like fun.” I worked there for four months and then I tried stand-up for my first time at a club [on the Upper West Side], and it just was fun.
Q: What do you pull your material from?
A: How I get most of my material is I watched Carlos Mencia and I just try to make it funnier.
Before, my last special called “Happy Hour” was just observational stuff, you know, if you’re in a fight with somebody and you punch him in his eye. The one I just filmed is called “The Byrne Identity” because it’s about my point of view. It’s all silly stuff but somebody could come to my show and not know anything about me, so this time I really want to write about what I’m passionate about. And at the same time I kind of discovered who I am, because I’m a mixed race, so I never knew am I Asian, am I Irish? What the hell am I? I couldn’t figure it out. That’s what the basis of the special is, so I just wrote as much as I could about identity and answering who I am and maybe asking people, “who are you?” as well.
Q: Do you change up your act for college shows? Is the material different?
A: Yeah, there’s some things I know just won’t float in a college, you know. Some kids are sensitive in colleges, too. These are kids that are 18, 19. Sometimes you say things and I don’t want to say anything offensive to anybody. But I’m talking about my life and I talk sometimes about the first time I was called a “chink.” It’s like, I’m making fun of me, how can you be offended? So I try to tone it down a little bit and try to think of older jokes that everyone can relate to.