Wandering does often have its perks, particularly when the drift leads right into the spotlight. For David Cope, a rising stand-up comic out of New York, a once blind ambition is, just by chance, serving up to be quite the role of dreams.
His journey began with some soul-searching and experimentation. After college, Cope moved to Portland and on a whim started open mic-ing. He’d graduated from college in New York, connected with his family in Oregon, and moved West to figure out a game plan.
“I got the bug,” explains Cope of his first year on stage discovering the art form. “It was pretty fun, so I kept going. I moved to Seattle and continued to do comedy there, but I wanted a bigger scene and more of a challenge so eventually moved back to New York.”
Four years and one Wall Street day job later, Cope has managed to tackle the challenge of performing in the biggest city in America, hitting the stage circuit regularly, as well as doing commercials and taking part in the famed UCB Theater. Premiering first at the Comix Club, a comedy room no longer in existence, the emerging humorist stepped out onto the basement stage known as the Oh Cheese Lounge, testing the waters before completely taking the plunge. He came to Manhattan to hone his craft, but soon plans to move to L.A. for an even bigger market.
Cope describes he relationship to comedy like a longstanding love affair.
“It’s kind of exactly analogous to a relationship because the first two or three years are really fun and new. You get excited and feel the world’s ahead of you,” he describes. “But I’ve been doing it for six and a half years now… Even if you go on stage and kill it, you realize, ‘Okay, I’ve done this a couple times now but what’s going to happen next?’ The real challenge is figuring out how to make it in the long haul.”
While mastering the trade takes a while, potentially a lifetime, Cope has learned to capitalize on what’s unique about his style. He likes to write about his seemingly inadvertent observations, like recently he’s noticed a trend of overall “snootiness” or arrogance in this country, and has found a way to shed his own comedic spin on the attitude shift.
“I like making fun of or playing around with arrogance or entitlement,” says Cope, who tends to be more low key personally, so finds it particularly obnoxious when celebrities and public figures play up their larger than life personas. “In the end, America is responding to big personalities and attitudes; Donald trump is an example. I’m not sure how marketable my angle is, but that’s up to me to figure out.”
Cope has watched how stand-up helps many comedians to develop a core funny muscle and launch themselves onto greater platforms. In the future, he likes the idea of becoming one such commodity, allotting him the ability to thrive in the entertainment business while also returning to the mic, as an homage to his roots. He’s got a few more gigs left in New York before heading to California in the Spring or Summer, where incidentally, he’s also chasing a girl.
“You sit back and realize there is no guarantee in life that you’ll meet someone who’s supportive and into you,” he observes, when talking about his current flame, who recently relocated to L.A. “I feel like it’s the universe telling me it’s time to move. I can tell I’ll be a kid forever if I don’t make the decision to grow up.”
Thus, like his first foray into comedy, Cope packs his bags and heads to a new frontier for whatever awaits. His life motto reads explicitly, “A piece of gold in the hand is better than poop on the roof.”