Driving Ambition – Eugene Weekly
Comedian Sam Miller is set to pick up another comic in Federal Way, Wash., Rolling the stand-up a few hundred miles from Miller’s hometown of Olympia for a show later that night.
Constant driving is what Miller dislikes most about his new full-time job as a stand-up comic – that, and the constant emailing and browsing between different producers and agents, booking DIY comedy tours throughout Washington State and the West. Rating. One of those shows will be on December 30 at Big Dirty in Eugene.
The time on stage, of course, is what Miller likes.
âI respect the art form of standing comedy,â he said, speaking on a hands-free device in the car. âI love stand-up so much because it’s the most accessible form of performing art there is. I like the idea that it’s so simple, but so hard at the same time. You’re basically all alone up there. All victory is your victory; all failure is your failure.
Married with two children, Miller has been acting for about eight years – however, as a means of subsistence, only since July of this year. He was recently a finalist in the Seattle International Comedy Competition, a prestigious month-long event where big names have performed and won in the past including Mitch Hedberg, Christopher Titus and Ron Funches. Miller’s respectable second-place finish is expected to boost his profile on the comedy scene considerably.
Miller came to acting after rehab, having spent some time homeless and with a criminal record.
âPeople were saying I should try acting. I was like, it’s stupid, âhe recalls. âThen I did it and ended up loving it. I am impulsive. The minute I did it, I thought, I’m going to do it for the rest of my life. I was afraid of getting a divorce. It was my first thought when I stepped off the stage, âhe says.
âI believe that for a lot of people, myself included, humor is a survival strategy. When I was incarcerated or in rehab, or when I was on the streets, I could lose a lot of my life anytime, bits of myself, but I could still say shit – I could still say my mouth. I’ve done it so much, I’ve become good at it.
In addition to listening to podcasts, Miller works and reworks material on those long, late night rides after shows, drawing mostly from his personal life and history of substance abuse. He brings free concepts to the stage, where he ends them, letting it flow, and without much setlisting.
Making it into a full-time comic is tough, Miller says, but it’s nothing compared to parenthood.
âBeing a dad is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,â he says. âWhen people hear that I used to smoke meth and fight cops and been in jail, they’re like – it was hard. No, I’m good at it. It’s hard when I get a call from a teacher at my child’s school and don’t know what to do. Smoking meth and being wild – those are things I regret, but I was pretty good at it.
Beginning with new tracks, Miller’s Eugene show is the first stop on a short tour. âMy new stuff is awesome,â he says. âI’m going strong. It’s gonna be wild. I have some new shit that’s pretty dark but pretty good too. And so dark and beautiful is your favorite genre of stand-up comedy, Miller says, “I got you, bro.”
Hosted by Eugene comedian Jamie Colson with local comedians Rudy Tyburczy, Seth Milstein and Chadhurst Sharpe, Sam Miller performs at 8 p.m. on Thursday, December 30 at Big Dirty; $ 10, 21 and over, masks required.