WEST PALM BEACH – Many comics define success by their ability to break down metaphorical walls between themselves and their audiences.
Josh Blue takes a different approach.
“My comedy is like building a rock wall, where the jokes are the rocks and the mortar is the improv,” Blue said. “And then you just kind of find what rock fits in where and at what time and place it in there. Hopefully it’s like a nice wall when you’re done.”
Winner of “Last Comic Standing” in 2006 and a third place finisher in Season 16 (2021) of “America’s Got Talent,” Blue brings his linguistic masonry to the Palm Beach Improv for five shows, beginning on Thursday.
Blue breaks many of the molds that so often define the comedic process. For starters, he doesn’t write down his material. Sure, when he started his stand-up career nearly two decades ago he followed everyone’s advice and wrote his jokes, but it didn’t take long for Blue to ditch the physical act of joke writing.
Part of the reason is muscular. Poor handwriting – likely attributable to his cerebral palsy – makes Blue’s handwriting nearly illegible even to himself. Blue also decided to trust his mental capability to recall, refine and deliver jokes.
“I have an idea, take it on stage and work it out there,” Blue said. “I just have faith in that.”
Skipping the process of writing jokes longhand frees Blue from the temptation to memorize each bit word-for-word, thereby allowing him to better deliver the lines based on feel.
“You know your dumb jokes,” Blue said. “You don’t need a piece of paper to tell you that.”
Blue takes the stage with a framework for the show in mind, but crib notes won’t dictate the flow of his show. It’s all in his head – which can be wild place to reside. The spontaneity proves both engaging and endearing.
“The idea of stand-up is making it look like it just came off the top of your head, so when it really is coming off the top of your head, then it looks really real,” Blue said.
Blue’s reality is different than most. Sporting long, sometimes out of control, hair and a matching beard out of the Woodstock era, he prowls the stage with the crazed energy of a homeless person searching for his favorite lost iguana.
The shows are fast-paced. There’s little downtime. It’s all entertainment.
“Once I hit the gas, it’s going baby,” Blue said. “Who knows what’s going to happen?”
Blue’s career isn’t experiencing an energy crisis. Along with the two reality shows and numerous late night television talk show appearances, his resume also boasts four one-hour comedy specials. He’s working toward a fifth.
Recently Blue was the feature comic for six Dave Chappelle shows in Denver. Blue also is part of a group that purchased the Mile High City’s iconic Skylark Lounge. Not long ago Blue performed there as the opening act for another of the bar’s new owners – Nathaniel Rateliff of Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats.
“To me those are almost cooler than being the headliner myself,” Blue said.
Blue’s Thursday night performance at the Palm Beach Improv begins at 8 p.m. He’ll perform two shows apiece on Friday and Saturday. The first show on both nights is at 7 p.m., the second begins at 9:45 p.m. Tickets for all shows cost $25 and are available through the PalmBeachImprov.com.
Nick Ciasullo is the feature comic, with South Florida comic Eric Rosenblum serving as host.
“I just feel like now would be a good time to come see me because I feel like I’m on fire,” Blue said.