Friday, March 25, 2011

The Back Page: Shawn Donovan On His New CD, Few Mourn

Shawn Donovan's comedy CD,
Few Mourn
Shawn Donovan doesn’t have much faith in his friends. That’s why he named his self-produced CD Few Mourn and made the cover look like a cheesy tribute for a fallen friend you didn’t know that well on Facebook. It’s a shame – he looks so young.

But that also sums up Donovan’s comic point of view. He would be pessimistic, if it were worth the energy. Over the past year or so, he has been hitting a stride, telling more personal stories onstage that sometimes roam a little. You can catch him tonight out in Lowell at the new Back Page Jazz & Comedy Club on a show with Brian Brinegar. And you can find the CD on CDBaby.com.

I spoke with Donovan by e-mail this week.

So how many people do you think will actually attend your funeral?

No idea. Probably a few enemies coming by just to make sure I'm really dead.

Will any of them be from the audience from this show?

In reality, I don't even want a funeral. I feel the same way about funerals as I do about weddings. What's the point? It seems like a big to do when only a handful of people actually care. I don't want to be buried anyway. I take up enough space as it is now, no need to continue taking up space for eternity. I rent now, so maybe it'll be my only chance to be a landowner. Still, I'd prefer my body to be left to rot in the ocean. Can this blog act as my last will and testament?

More than anyone, Doug Stanhope seems to have been a huge influence on you. Is that something you're aware of as you're writing and performing? Is there anything specific you've learned from listening to him?

Doug's great and obviously a favorite of mine. I've always been drawn to ranty comics like him, Bill Hicks, Marc Maron, Bill Burr, Chris Rock. Ranty social satire is my favorite kind of comedy - don't know why, just a personal preference I guess. In terms writing and performing, something either happens to me that I find funny or I read something that pisses me off then I take it to the stage. I do nearly all my writing on stage. I don't know how effective of a process it is, but that's what I do.

How did you go about producing the CD? Who handled the technical end?

My friend Rob Hughes handled the recording, production and technical aspects of the album. He's a musician in a band called Fishing the Sky. Yup, that's a plug. I think he did a great job. He's recorded bands in studio before, but it was his first time recording a live comedy event like this. I think he did a great job.

How did you decide on Grandma's Basement to tape?

Ha...probably because they're the only ones who would have me. Benny was really on board with me recording an album and it was something I had been thinking about and working towards. That room is small enough where I could actually fill it and if I totally ate my cock, it wouldn't have mattered. It's not like I'd have to answer to anyone afterwards. Total no pressure environment. A perfect setting for a coward like me.

How hard is it to promote a self-released CD like this for a comedian? Musicians can send out to radio, but outside of satellite radio, comedians don't really have that option.

It's nearly impossible. CD Baby is a great resource though. They handled the distribution and provide a lot of resource for independent artists, it's really a great site. I'm the worst at self promotion though. I have no idea what to do. I plug it at shows I do and comics and friends of mine have been really great about passing it around. I think the only hope for something like this is word of mouth. Maybe it'll slowly gain momentum and something good will come of it. Probably not. That's just a pipe dream.

How has it sold?

Sales have exceeded my expectations. I hate myself and have very little self esteem, so the fact that one copy sold is great. I don't know an exact number. I keep getting sales reports every month from the online distributors and I've sold a few download cards after shows. I've made a profit and I consider that a victory at least for me. The consumer is probably losing out.

The CD is under comedy, and also "moods: mood: brooding" on CDBaby. How big do you think the "moods: mood: brooding" crowd is? You seem to be in there with mostly metal and synth bands.

Comedy has such a small market anyway. Is Bauhaus still a band? Maybe I can tour with them.

How is the Back Page as a venue? How did you find out about that?

The Back Page is a cool, little jazz/comedy venue that just opened in Lowell. They're running a comedy open mic on Tuesdays and I believe they just started doing weekend comedy stuff. Nick David, who's a bluesman in the band Mr. Nick and the Dirty Tricks - yup that's a plug - runs the comedy shows. He also runs the comedy open mic up at the Shaskeen in Manchester NH. I met him there and he's had me on a few shows that he's booked. How 'bout it!

The standard overly general closing question -- what'd I miss?

I feel like this is an opportunity for me to make a joke. I got nothing.

Brian Brinegar: 9PM. With Shawn Donovan, Kevin Cotter, Nick Lavallee, Alana Eisner, and Kate Nee. The Back Page, 15 Kearney Sq Lowell, MA. 978.455.4418

2 comments:

EBryan said...
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