As a 19-year-old college student, Danny Palumbo watched a lot of Comedy Central Presents. The iconic half-hour standup comedy show gave Palumbo the comedy bug, but his hometown of New Castle, Pa., didn’t really afford him an opportunity to try his hand.
So after he graduated, Palumbo moved an hour away to Pittsburgh, where he heard there was a comedy scene. After spending more than a year in Pittsburgh performing at open mics, writing speculative television scripts and talking with fellow comics, Palumbo decided to make the move to the Live Music Capital of the World.
“I came to visit for about four nights and then decided to officially make the move,” says Palumbo. “Austin has offered me tons of comedic opportunities like the Moontower Comedy Festival and Fun Fun Fun Fest.”
Palumbo has only been here for a year and a half and says moving to Austin has been one of the best decisions he has made. He says he has grown more as a comedian during his short time in Austin than he would have back in Pittsburgh.
“Everyone here is really funny,” says Palumbo. “Being here surrounded by great comics all the time really pushes you to become a lot better.”
Last year during Moontower Comedy Festival’s inaugural year, Palumbo was asked to perform at the Velveeta Room and do a 20-minute set. At the time, he had lived in Austin for only a few months, so it was a bit intimidating to perform alongside comedy veterans Pat Dixon and Tom Rhodes in a comedy festival.
“It was the most amount of time I’d had on stage at that point and it was a packed room,” says Palumbo. “I remember getting a really good response from the audience for my set. I felt really proud, especially in front of all that talent. I felt so welcomed and like I belonged here, doing comedy.”
When it comes to the Austin culture, Palumbo admits he doesn’t know much about local bands and the music scene. He does, however, think Austinites are very open and free-spirited. Palumbo prioritizes food as the second thing he is most passionate about—after comedy, of course—so it goes without saying that he enjoys the Austin foodie culture.
“I think a lot comics want to identify with musicians, but I just want to hang out with chefs,” says Palumbo. “I want to ask them so many questions and get drunk with them and hang out.”
Aside from eating some of the best food in town, Palumbo hopes to one day write and create a new show that he is really passionate about, something along the lines of Arrested Development
or Flight of the Conchords. In the meantime, he will continue doing standup and start touring.
Comedy has given Palumbo a real sense of purpose. Initially, he was quite intimidated by the whole process. He jokingly mentions that he has since learned to embrace the comedic process in a “self-deprecating and maybe even masochistic way.” Now Palumbo has a better grip on the ins and outs of each joke and knows what works and what doesn’t. For him, there is no way to bypass a bad gig, but to keep doing it.
“As a comic you have immerse yourself in the comedic scene and talk to other comics,” says Palumbo. “At first, I was just afraid to get on, but the more do it, the more I love it.”
Watch a clip of Palumbo performing at Austin’s Velveeta Room below.