PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – On July 26, I had the opportunity to interview Portsmouth Comedian Hatton Jordan.
Jordan has had 30 years of experience in performing stand-up comedy in the Hampton Roads area. The 54-year-old comedian, whose day job for the past 15 years has been working in elementary education, has performed professionally in 17 different states. He has worked in Virginia, Ohio, Texas, and all spots in between. His entertainment career includes selling material to Mad Magazine and acting on the Discovery ID Channel.
It all started with open mics and now Hatton Jordan has had his busiest two years of paid gigs.
Along with performing, Jordan also helps produce several stand-up shows within the Hampton Roads area. These shows are located at MoMac Brewery in Portsmouth, Nansemond Brewing Station in Suffolk, the Wyndham Hotel on 57th St. in Virginia Beach, and Push Comedy Theater in Norfolk.
His stand-up comedy act is upbeat and clean. It primarily delves into observational comedy and focuses upon projecting fun and enthusiasm.
His upcoming comedy events include –
- Headlining the Wyndham hotel on 57th St in Virginia Beach on Thursday, August 10.
- Featuring at Cozzy’s in Newport News Friday, August 25 and Saturday, August 26.
- On Sunday, October 29, Jordan will begin teaching his “Stand Up Comedy 101” class at Push Comedy Theater. The class involves six comedy workshop meetings that ultimately lead up to each participant in the class to perform their original stand-up material in front of a live audience at the Push Theater.
Getting to know Hatton Jordan’s heroes
I began the interview by asking Jordan who his comedic heroes are.
When you’re a teenager, that’s when most people get influenced. When I was a teenager, it was definitely Richard Pryor, Bill Cosby (I mean that’s a weird thing to say, because we did not really know the full story), George Carlin, Mitch Hedberg, and Eddie Murphy. I was able to see Eddie Murphy perform live at the Norfolk Scope in the 80s during his Raw tour. Those were the comedians that left an impression on me. But of those five comedians, Mitch Hedberg stood out. I think Mitch did some things so differently. Unfortunately, Mitch passed away, but he’s still a legend. His uniqueness was something I’d never seen. He made it cool to be imperfect onstage. He made it cool to flub a joke. He had embraced his personality of being a vulnerable human up there. He made it fine to stumble and fumble. And along the way, he had some epic jokes. He was an incredible joke writer.Hatton Jordan
What makes someone great at stand-up?
I asked what the key was to become a great comedian.
I think the key is you have to keep doing it. The great comedians don’t get thrown off by bad shows. You have to have tunnel vision. To just want to do your best. And if people don’t come to your shows, who cares? It’s all about you. You can’t be mad when people don’t come to your shows or can’t make every show. People have lives. All you got to do is get the job done. Focusing on your jokes, getting onstage, and rewriting your material.Hatton Jordan
How does Hatton make jokes?
I asked what his process was in creating comedic material.
I try to train my brain to look for comedy. That’s part of being a comedian. If I see things that strike me as funny, I write them down, and try to workshop each word. If I think of a premise, I write it down quickly. Because, if you do not write it down, you will forget. If I’m driving and a funny premise strikes me, I will text it to myself as fast as possible. I don’t care if I run over someone’s vegetable garden or knock over someone’s mailbox. I want to get these jokes down.Hatton Jordan
What makes stand-up difficult?
I asked what the hardest part was of doing stand-up comedy.
I’m not a big baseball fan, but it’s kind of like going up to bat. A batter doesn’t get on base every single time. Every joke you try is not going to be a homerun or even get you on base. It’s a numbers game. You have to test out a whole lot of stuff. Once you get jokes that get good laughs constantly, then they are placed in your official comedy act. That process is tough, but if you get a good joke, then it can be in your act forever.Hatton Jordan
I asked if he has a favorite show that he has ever done.
I would say the best show was this past winter. I got to open up for Demetri Martin. It was in front of a thousand people at the Sandler Center in Virginia Beach. I was ready. I got there about two hours before the show. I was able to get on the stage before anyone got there and work with the microphone. The sound people helped check my voice level with a mic. I also got to meet the great comedian Demetri Martin. He was a cool guy. He was super friendly. I told him how I thought he was a great comedian. He was really appreciative of my compliments.Hatton Jordan
Thoroughgood Inn Comedy Club
I asked what his first time on stage was like.
I took a comedy writing class at Old Dominion University in the 90s. The final exam was to get up on stage at the Thoroughgood Inn Comedy Club on Independence Blvd in Virginia Beach. It’s not here anymore. It sounds like a hotel, but it was actually a comedy club. It was a packed house. And I did well! That gave me the confidence to continue to do open mics. I wasn’t perfect, but I kept working on getting better.Hatton Jordan
Is it all an act?
I asked if he acted the same way on stage as he did in his day-to-day life.
No, I’m much more animated and vocal on stage. Offstage, I’m pretty chill, pretty low key. I’m definitely not the life of the party. I’m also not a wet blanket in the corner offstage. But on stage, I definitely project and become energetic. I’m definitely an upbeat comedian. I want to bring energy. I want to bring fun. I’m bigger and more animated.Hatton Jordan
The effects of COVID
I asked how the pandemic affected his career in stand-up comedy.
Strangely, right as the pandemic was hitting, I had lost some confidence with comedy. I wasn’t writing new stuff. I just was in a little bit of a comedy funk. When the pandemic shut everything down, it kind of gave me time to refocus my relationship with comedy. Being forced to step away from it actually rejuvenated my comedy brain. The forced break gave me the downtime I needed.Hatton Jordan
The end of the pandemic
I asked what it was like when venues opened up after the pandemic.
People appreciated live performances more than ever. Whether it was comedy or music. A lot of the performers were itching to get back and the crowds were itching to be entertained. Performers came back with more focus and more enthusiasm. It was such a great time.Hatton Jordan
Favorite place to perform?
I asked what his favorite venue is to perform.
Well, there’s three. The Sandler Center in Virginia Beach, Push Comedy Theater, and Cozzy’s in Newport News. The Sandler Center was so cool to perform at. Now I am totally ready to perform at big venues like that. Big stages. My act is tight. It’s sharp. That is why I like it. Push Comedy Theater is cool because they teach improv, sketch, and stand-up there. That is where I teach my stand-up classes. So, they have a very diverse group of performers. Cozzy’s in Newport News is cool because of their longevity in the business. They are the longest running comedy club in Virginia. And the fact that they have a true comedy open mic on Thursdays is essential for the comedy scene in Hampton Roads.Hatton Jordan
To those who want to get into comedy
I asked what advice he would give to anyone trying to start doing stand-up comedy.
First thing is you need to go watch a lot of live in person comedy. You learn a lot that way. You need to watch the pros do it. You also have to be patient. Your success is not going to happen overnight or even within the first year or two. It’s going to take years or decades to get your act good. So, you need to be patient, but you also need to have that drive. But it takes time. The more you work, the more your comedy brain gets smarter. I also think you need to know that quality is better than quantity. Jay Leno said it best. He’d rather see a comedian kill for twenty minutes than see a pretty good comedian for forty-five minutes.Hatton Jordan
Wanna try stand-up comedy?
Hatton Jordan has learned a lot from years on the comedy road. To learn more about the process of performing stand-up comedy and to enhance your public speaking skills, check out his “Stand Up Comedy 101” class starting Sunday October 29. It is an all-ages class with six class meetings designed to help each student edit their comedy thoughts and to perform their set at a packed “Grad Show” at the Push Comedy Theater in Norfolk. To register, go to: www.pushcomedytheater.com.