When area stand-up Pat Sievert first started out in comedy, most of his friends, family and coworkers were completely surprised.
Always quiet and reserved, Sievert brought a different energy to the stand-up stage than most in-your-face comics or extroverted performers.
“I had someone tell me early on, ‘When you step onstage, sometimes people don’t think you’re going to be funny, and then when you are, they’re at ease and they laugh,’” Sievert said. “So if that’s what people think when I step on that stage, how do I work that to my advantage? And how do I get away from that, because I don’t want to start as a deficit.”
Despite not being a comedy natural, Sievert had always been a fan of stand-up, back to his days of watching Comedy Central after school, growing up in Mason.
He first tried his hand at stand-up during a college talent show, where he won first place. But he didn’t begin his comedy career until he turned 30, just over eight years ago, and went to an open mic night at Connxtions Comedy Club in Lansing on February 15, 2012.
That date is doubly significant now, as he just released his first comedy album last month, to the day, in celebration of his eighth anniversary as a comedian.
Recorded at Mac’s Bar in Lansing last November, I Do What I Want Now finds Sievert compiling many of his best jokes over the years, and overcoming one unexpected obstacle to earning laughs — unseasonably early snow.
“I made the announcement on Labor Day, because I wanted to give enough notice for people who wanted to be there to make plans, but I also didn’t want to talk about it for six months,” Sievert said about the build up to his live album show. “So as soon as I announced it, the pressure was on, and I got all my material organized. I listened to a lot of sets going back years to find the best version of a joke, or maybe find something that I hadn’t done in a long time, and try to get that all set up.
“So I thought that was going along pretty well and then the day of, we had that huge blizzard for the first snow of the year. I took off work that day to just get ready and get in the right headspace for the show, and I just kept watching the snow fall.”
He emerged from the blizzard triumphant, with friends and fans still coming from far and wide, alongside newcomers, who all joined in on the laughs.
It’s not the only time he’s emerged victorious despite the odds. Last year, he won the 2019 Funniest Person in Grand Rapids competition held at Dr. Grins Comedy Club.
“There’s a lot of funny people from Grand Rapids, so I hope there’s no hard feelings from any of them,” Sievert said about being named the funniest person in Grand Rapids, despite not exactly living there.
Sievert took home top honors at the annual competition last April, beating out more than 80 other participants. It was actually his sixth time competing, and he was shocked when he won.
“I just tried to have a good set and see how I did,” he said. “(Winning has) made me want to go and perform in the city more, because I live in Lansing and I guess that’s the primary place I perform. I’ll travel wherever, but once I won that, I was like, ‘Well I can’t be the guy who just shows up every six months and does comedy there.’ So I’ve tried to step up my presence and try to support everybody over there however I can.”
Sievert returned as a special guest of this year’s competition last month, and will do a weekend back at Dr. Grins in May.
Crediting his love of podcasts for getting him back into comedy in his 30s — and his lifelong fandom for things like sci-fi and comic books as unexpected inspiration for his unique brand of comedy — Sievert said he’s working on new material now that his album has been released. He also hopes to one day use his history degree to create a comedic history podcast of his own.
“I’m hoping that maybe the album will get heard in places that I haven’t been yet,” he said. “Maybe people will want to book me because they’ve heard it, or people will be able to go, ‘Hey, you might like this guy, he’s coming here in a couple weeks, check this album out,’ and build that reputation from there.”
Find Sievert’s work at instagram.com/patsievert.