Thomas Crone highlights the standup comedians performing at the "Last Laugh Comedy Stage" at LouFest. Today’s featured comic: Chris Cyr.
Forgive the inclusion of the personal in this lead, but it’ll serve a storytelling purpose: on a lot of Monday mornings, I drive a cohabitant to the airport during the 6 a.m. hour. It’s strange to turn on the radio during that timeframe, knowing that we’ll hear the familiar voice of Chris Cyr. Stranger are the episodes in which he’s interviewing other St. Louis comedians we’ve seen, discussing their next gigs, their writing styles, their day jobs and their passions; that said, there are times when none of these topics are discussed and the pair just riff on the day’s topic of choice.
The strangest moments of all, though? Those are when Cyr discusses bears. Or robots. Or raising (not his) children. Or outdated social mores. And then, possibly more talk of bears or robots. He’ll do this for an hour, minus station/commercial breaks. During those 6-7 a.m. blocks, it’s Chris vs. Time, his one-man, hour-long monologues some of the most-unusual and delightful radio you’re likely to hear. If it’s even radio, at all.
“It’s funny that you call it a radio show,” Cyr says. “I call it a radio show. My parents call it a radio show. Younger people call it a podcast. Recorded live on the radio.”
From Monday-through-Thursday, Cyr arrives at the 920 AM studios for these coffee-fueled 6 a.m. sets, though he’s also prone to pre-record some episodes of the show, Impolite Company. Within hours, the finished products are loaded onto a variety of platforms, from Spotify to the impolitecompany.com homepage.
“I’m a storyteller at heart,” Cyr says, “who’s learned to tell jokes.”
Asked about his comfort level with the show, now that it’s being measured in months, rather than weeks, Cyr says, “I like it now. If you listened to the first 30 or 40 episodes, you’d hear me struggling with what I would do. I used to be terrible being alone. For those first 30 or 40, I felt I was better with a guest, even as I was learning to do live interviews on-air. I wasn’t terribly comfortable being alone for an hour. But I hit my stride and philosophize, or… I don’t know what you’d call it. ‘A stream-of-consciousness, with a point?’
“Interviews with comics,” he adds, “are no longer just comics-on-comedy interviews.That sort of thing works well in print, but on a podcast, I might just ask a questions and let tangents happen,” he says. “I’ll take a thread and fill that entire hour with the thread. That’s conversational and can be really cool.”
Impolite Company is the name of his podcast/radio show, but it’s also a name he’s used for a (mostly) monthly live show; it’s usually held at the Crack Fox, though it’s also travelled to other venues. On these evenings, Cyr hosts or does short guest spots, while allowing a showcase for local, regional and the occasional traveling comedian some mic time, inside a room that’s built for music, but works well for comedy, too.
While he’s been actively working stand-up slots at comedy clubs and indie shows for the past few years, a day job frequently takes him on week-long runs outta town. In those towns, he’ll try to spot-in a show, or two, during the week. And when back in St. Louis, he’s often cooking up a show that bends from the norm. In recent months, for example, he’s taken part in Aaron Sawyer’s two-person sketch/video presentation Boondoggle and he’s offered a “mostly unplugged rock opera” called Chris Cyr Presents: I’m Gonna Buy Cocaine, among other concepts.
“I’m doing more one-offs,” he says. “And I wanna throw more shows that aren’t strictly standup. Personally, I love doing standup, but I need other outlets, too, so I like putting together shows are a little different.”
That word, “different,” could speak to Cyr’s near-legendary ability to juggle workdays, his morning radio work and gigs at clubs. As example, his Thursday mornings come just hours after his co-created Wild Card Wednesday open mic at the Crow’s Nest, which ends not long after midnight. He’s pushing, always, for inclusiveness and diversity in the comedy scene, advocating for new voices, pushing web and promotional outlets for everyone, all while tending to his own upward trajectory as a standup.
It’s a balancing act best achieved when self-satisfaction’s in play and it sounds as if he’s found that place.
“It’s good, I can’t complain,” Cyr says, “I’ll tell you, I’m more-comfortable with what I’m saying on-stage now than I’ve ever been. I’ve had other people comment on that. Yeah, my politics and religious views are in there, I’m just not blatantly beating people over the head with them. I feel more like myself, with observations about life filtered through a mentally-healthy hedonism. I’m not a pioneer in that thought; America’s repressed in so many areas.”
The message, according to The Book of Cyr 3:14: “Don’t just go to work, go home, eat dinner, go to work the next day.”