Paul Welch is an aspiring stand-up comedian who currently lives in the ATL. He thrives off his ability to read people and know what kind of reaction he will get from them, positive or negative. He is sarcastic, a prankster and loves to troll. He uses Facebook and Craigslist in very interesting ways, but you need to read the interview to see exactly how. Continue reading to learn more about Welch’s style of comedy and influences.
Words by N. Sella
Mechanical Dummy: Who are you and what do you create?
Paul Welch: My name is Paul Welch and I make people laugh.
MD: When did you first realize you were funny?
PW: With me, it was always I’ve been able to read people really well. You’re either gonna end up liking me or hating me within a couple seconds. Through middle school I was a real quiet kid. And then ninth grade, as a joke, I ran for class president. And right before my speech, I smoked a blunt behind the back of the building and I was drinking. And I gave my speech – I don’t even remember what I said, but I quoted Kurt Cobain and a bunch of stupid shit like that. And I got a standing ovation and got 89% of the vote and won. And here I was, this kid wearing punk rock t-shirts and a Mohawk running for class president. And ever since then, I realized being able to read people, see how they tick, is a strength of mine. I can either get somebody to get really pissed off – which I’ve been doing lately online, or seeing what they like and getting them to like me. So just doing that.
MD: What kind of feedback and responses do you get from people?
PW: I get fan mail, which is weird. And I got 30,000 views on my website. So seeing that feedback and being able to make people laugh is something I really like doing.
MD: You made Huffington Post twice; does the feedback make you want to go harder?
PW: It definitely does, man. It started when I got a job up in Kansas City right after I graduated. My first corporate job. And they had a four-month backlog on training. So basically, for four months I was getting paid a salary to sit at my desk on the computer. I would just fuck around on my computer all day. Because they couldn’t train me yet, so I was useless. I would look at these Facebook walls of these companies and saw the most ridiculous complaints. I heard about that lady who sued McDonald’s and won because she spilled her coffee and it was hot and it burned her. I almost felt a sense of pity for these people manning these corporate accounts. And I looked at like Worlds of Fun for example, it is a theme park, and I looked on their wall and it was all these stupid fucking complaints. And so I wrote something saying someone has landed a hot air balloon near the park and told people it was a ride. And I got on and it took me off and I ended up in Idaho. Just fucking around, but it got a lot of attention and the theme park actually sent me free tickets. So after I got that, I just took off with it and just started fucking with every company I could. Like Johnny Rockets in Atlanta, I said I went to eat there with my Black friend and they made me sit in the White section. And they sent me a message immediately saying, “We’re so sorry. This isn’t supposed to happen.”
MD: So you like to do this kind of stuff on Craiglists?
PW: I respond to peoples’ ads and shit. One lady for example, she was looking for somebody to fix some holes in her wall. And I e-mailed her and said, “Hey, I’m a handyman for ten years and what I’ll do is put some plaster on it and then hang a picture of Bon Jovi over it.” And she said, “that’s great, we’ll give you a call.” The Internet’s a playground, man. There’s so many stupid people on there and it’s just so easy to read people just by the way they type and talk and you can find out something that will piss them off in a minute. And there’s total anonymity. Which is awesome because I’ve had people threaten to call the cops on me, I’ve had death threats, all just because of my trolling. It gets some people really riled up.
MD: What influenced your sense of humor growing up?
PW: I was always in to the off-brand British humor. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Sugar Happy TV, it’s like British comedians. That’s what prompted my interest in basically fucking with people. They just do funny skits in public. It’s not like Jackass where they’re hurting themselves, but it’s funny pranks and shit. I was never really into stand-up guys or improv actors, but as of late I’ve been getting kind of into it because a couple local comedy clubs have actually contacted me. One in Kansas City, they had seen my shit on the Internet and asked if I’d like to come do an amateur night or something. Just to see peoples’ reaction to absurd shit is what gets me going.
MD: What is it that you enjoy?
PW: My thing has always been, you ever seen Fight Club? Tyler Durden is in a basement and the guy comes down and starts beating the hell out of him and he just keeps laughing and asking for more. The guy just beats the hell out of him, gives him everything he’s got. And Brad Pitt just keeps laughing and asks for more. That’s my thing, man. Just being able to push somebody to their limit, them throwing their everything at you, all their logic, all their anger, and you just being able to laugh at them. You win every time. You can always win an argument every time just by throwing curveballs at their logic. Maybe about ten percent of the stuff I do people actually respond to on these corporate websites or these Craigslist ads. But when I do get a response, I get the jitters, is start to get laughing, I think about where I can take this. How absurd I can push to where it’s actually believable.
MD: What’s your ultimate dream? Acting, stand up?
PW: I want to do stand-up. I’ve been working on my wit. It’s easy when you’re sitting at a computer to think of something funny and type it out. Because you’ve got all the time, you’re not sitting face-to-face with somebody. But actually getting up there and being able to banter back and forth and think on your feet is quite a challenge. I’ve been trying it. I can do it. But you gotta be on the flow all the time, you gotta be nimble. You gotta think quick and you gotta act quick. Just doing stuff in front of the mirror with friends and stuff like that is what I’ve been doing lately. I already make money off my website through ad revenue. I have Google ads posting ads on my page and for every thousand views I get like a dollar or something like that. I’ve actually made a living off my comedy. Which is hard in the Internet age because so many people do it. But the first couple times I posted on Facebook I got some likes. And then a couple weeks later I had something like 300 friend requests from people saying, “Hey, I’m friends with so-and-so. I saw that video, it was funny.” That shit’s gratifying within itself.
MD: So you use the Internet as a tool, this playground to sharpen your craft on?
PW: The Internet, it can make you wise, but it can also turn you into an insufferable fucking prick. There’s so much information, so many different types of people. And it’s just so easy to pick a group and see what makes them angry. Everything is out there. Every type of person, every type of thing. For example, I wrote on Taco Bell’s wall the other day. And I said, “I lost my wedding ring seven years ago. And today, it was handed to me embedded in a cheesy gordita crunch. Like, thank you so much.” And people were like, “Wow, that’s really scary. I wonder what else the processing plant misses.” Just to see the people that actually believe what I’m writing, because some of it’s so absurd I can’t imagine someone reading it and saying, “That sounds like it actually could have happened.”
MD: So explain what happened with Taylor Swift, and how you got $10,000 donated to a deaf school?
PW: (Laughs) exactly. I started that. The stupidest thing a company can do is let the Internet decide something. They said Taylor Swift, whatever school gets the most votes, she performs at. And they listed schools for the deaf. So that’s obviously what I’m gonna do, being the dickhead that I am. It was a voting thing online. I was just fucking around on the Internet, bored as shit at my job, and I was going through the schools and I saw Horace Mann School for the Deaf. So I made a Facebook page saying, “Horace Mann’s School For the Deaf” wants Taylor Swift to perform. I started voting on it, I told one person about it, someone posted it on Reddit, and it just blew the fuck up and it won. I never actually expected her to actually perform at that school, but she ended up donating all this money and shit. It wasn’t the goal, but in the end it actually turned into a good thing, which is interesting.
MD: Talk about your website, and how you’ve got some many views?
PW: 30,000 views in about seven months. I don’t actively promote it. The best thing on the Internet is the hidden gems. Once in a while you’ll pop up on something that’s just awesome. That’s what I kind of like my site to be. Someone just Googling something or looking at something stupid and then they come across my shit. I like it being a hidden gem, but with the response it’s gotten, doing press like this I think a lot more people will hear about it and read it and pass it along to their friends.
MD: What are your plans for taking your career forward?
PW: I’m just going with it. I’m doing amateur night at a couple local comedy clubs. I’m just trying my stuff to see how much interest I can garner and how successful I would be at actually getting up in front of people and doing my shit. You can’t fuck with companies when you’re standing in front of people. But you can fuck with people. That’s my thing, man. That’s just where I think I excel. Just being able to get at people.
MD: What’s the best tool you use to come up with material?
PW: My biggest tool is boredom. Just sitting around not doing shit, fucking around on the Internet. That’s when I come up with my best shit.