An aspiring and successful actor, Che is deeply immersed in the Rochester cultural scene. So much so, we’ve named him Che of The Town!
Exclusively for Talker, Che has solicited and is conducting interviews from about 100 Rochestarians working in a diversity of creative fields.
For the full series, see Che of The Town: Interviews
You first met Malcolm Whitfield in Debut of “This Iranian-American Life” at Boulder Café. Malcolm was the MC when Shadi bravely went up on stage for Open Mic at Boulder Café. Malcolm did a great job soothing any of Shadi’s debut jitters.
So I am excited that Che is featuring this very funny comic.
Malcolm Whitfield; A Superb Comic Fortifying His Legacy In Stand Up
Tell us a little about yourself, where your from, grew up, what H.S./College you attended etc.
I was born in Atlanta and moved to Rochester when I was 7 or 8. Everything I know is in Rochester. I was raised in the city but my parents put us in suburban schools, which was different. Even though I was a city kid I talked “too white” for the black kids. So when I went to the suburbs, it seemed like I would fit in better there, but I was still a black kid from the city who didn’t know shit about the suburbs Like I had never seen a horse till I met white people. And then my best friend at my new school owned 3 horses! Dude I literally had never seen a wheel of cheese till 5th grade. I straight up just thought it was all Kraft Singles before. Anyway the suburbs were hard to get a hang of. Like I was still black, so early on there was shit about my life I had to try to explain to them that I had never thought I’d have to explain. I brought a hairbrush to middle school to keep in my locker, and I swear to you all of these kids kept asking me if it was a HORSE BRUSH. I don’t know what it is with white people and horses dude.
High School and college were a little easier, (Aquinas Institute and Syracuse University) I had gotten better at using humor to make friends, since I basically just embraced that I was different and couldn’t change that. What I made sure to do was make diverse friends as I got older. It’s easier to find people like you if you have a wider lens than black and white like I grew up with. Not to toot my own horn but I make friends super easily (Like you my dude!) That’s one of my favorite things about myself, being able to talk to and relate to so many people from a million different walks of life.
I do comedy because I’m not good at anything else really! My whole life the only thing I know I’ve been great at is making people laugh. Like school wasn’t a good student feeling myself fall behind because I’m focusing so hard on trying to focus that I’m not paying attention to the actual class. There was no sign more clear to me than the fact that freshman year at Syracuse I took a class called “College Learning Strategies” and dropped it after 6 weeks. The only thing that got me out of bed in college was performing in my school’s improv troupe, Zamboni Revolution, and joining the campus satire news organization, the Kumquat. I basically paid $56,000 dollars a year to do something I could have done for free at a rec center. But it was the only thing I took seriously. So I do comedy because It’s the only thing that makes sense to me. It’s just out of necessity.
Talk about a time where you have faced adversity/conflict and have triumphed.
Have you ever bombed on stage in front of over 100 people, including your family, to the point where the next 3 acts each take time out of their acts to talk about how horrible you were, while the audience laughs and applauds in agreement? Then had to go do the same thing the next night? I don’t recommend it. Stand up is the easiest thing in the world to quit. So easy, especially when you bomb like that. The triumph is when you go back on stage anyway. Well, triumph or stupidity. I’ll let you know when I figure it out.
I’m OBSESSED with originality. When I think of a joke I google it in every type of phrasing I can think of, just to make sure I’m the first person who thought of it. And I make sure I don’t lie. On stage is where I’m most authentic, it’s really the only place I’m 100% truthful. I think stand up suffers without honesty, if that makes any sense.
Do you have other interests or hobbies?
Yeah! I do some radio production, broadcasting, sound, things like that for 104.3 WAYO. I’m a producer for Almost Tuesday with some other comedians around Rochester, and it’s just another excuse for me to just laugh with my friends and get to do what I love. Also I’m the biggest fan of local bands. If I’m not on stage, I’m 100% at Bug Jar or Skylark or anywhere to hear Rochesters finest Rock out. Right now my favorite bands are Kids in The Basement, Oh Manitou, and Pleistocene, and all I do is add to that list!
Any projects you have out or currently working on?
Yeah I’m making a concentrated effort to travel more. I want the rest of 2017 to be my year of making moves. I just checked out the comedy scene in Boston, next up is DC Area. also like if I can get it together enough, I want to record an album! Nothing big, just a milestone for myself. Plus whenever I do road shows every other comic has merch and I feel left out. I avoided it for a while because I was trying to be all punk rock and not sell out, but this is still a business. It’s something I have to keep reminding myself, especially caring about comedy the way I do.
In 5 years. I want to be on the road. I LOVE traveling and doing road shows, even if it’s just some tiny farm town in Pennsylvania or something. I know its really cheesy but I’m enamored with the thought of being a road comic. I’m heavily romanticizing this by the way, it’s more crappy motels and continental breakfasts, but when I imagine my future it always seems to come back to that.
What advice can you give to aspiring comedians/entertainers?
My advice to comics is DON’T LISTEN TO ADVICE FROM COMICS. If anyone tells you how to do a joke, it’s just them letting you know how THEY would tell it. Just do you, and be real. Now, to be honest, I got that advice came from another comic, and I know I’m a comic also giving that advice now, but don’t think too hard about it, ok?
How can we follow along in your journey? Social media?
So the website is malcolmwhitfield.com, or Malcolm Whitfield Comedy on Facebook, @marvelous_mal on Twitter and IG and like everything else. Thanks in advance! Also, sorry in advance if you don’t like jokes about 2000’s MTV shows or breakfast cereal mascots!