For the past three years, standup comic Paul Julmeus has been busy making a name for himself throughout Miami, most notably as the host of several unique comedy experiences including Gringo Bingo at Wood Tavern and Just the Tip at Yo! Space.
And now he’s leaving us for the bright lights of New York City.
This Sunday will be his last Just the Tip, a free event where the audience can tip the comedians – or not. New Times spoke to the 27-year-old about his decision to move away from home, the less-than-glamorous beginnings of his career, and how rough Miami audiences have prepared him for whatever comes next.
New Times: How did you get into comedy?
Paul Julmeus: I have a friend, John Gregory, he does comedy too. We went to school together since I was 3. I asked him, "Hey, should I do comedy?" And he said, "Yeah, you should definitely." I started doing open mike, and that was it.
How was it when you first went up onstage?
The first time I went up there, I pretty much ran offstage. I think I said one thing, and I was like, OK, guys, this is it. I went up like once a week. I almost thought of quitting every other week. I was really struggling to get up there. Then I started doing more mikes and got more comfortable with how much I was bombing. There was a point why I kept going.
Did you ever figure that out?
I don’t know. I guess, in my head, I kept going, I can be funnier than these people. I just don’t know how to write a joke. [Laughs] I’m also competitive. Like when you get offstage and people give you that look like, ew, you stink. Like, you’re not funny, you have AIDS, it was like, I just had to prove them wrong. The moment you get that laughter, it’s pretty addicting.
You’ve done a few Florida comic cons the past couple of years. Do you consider yourself a nerd?
The comic cons are always a good crowd. If I bomb, it’s my fault. Maybe I tried too many jokes or I’ll just not be taking it seriously. Do I consider myself a nerd? I’m a nerd, but I don’t really have the memory to be a nerd. Like as a kid, I used to watch a lot of Star Trek, but I just can't remember anything. That’s a nerd quality, to be able to remember the episode and the name of it. I just can’t. The thing about me is that I feel like I don’t fit in anywhere. The fact that I don’t fit in means I fit in everywhere. Also, I didn’t grow up with the generation knowing about comic cons. I used to have a Star Trek trading card game, but I was really the only person who had the game. I didn’t know how to connect with other people who had the trading card game. If I had, I would’ve played with them.
So you’re leaving Miami and moving to NYC? Why now?
A lot of reasons. I’m originally from Miami, so I felt like it was good to move for the opportunities that they have in New York for comedy. I feel like there’s a lot more room and open mikes and the connections and networking I’ll make. I mean, I love Miami, but I feel like I hit a comfort zone here, and it’d be good to start something new.
What’s it like doing comedy in Miami?
Crowds in Miami are rough — rough as in they don’t care or they don’t wanna care. Most of the shows, like Last Call, people know there’s a comedy show, so they’ll come, they’ll sit, and they’ll watch because they want to watch comedy. But a lot of the shows, you’re walking into a bar, and people are trying to talk, and you’re trying out new jokes in front of them, and they’re like, "Ill, what the hell, man?" They really don’t want you there at all. You really have to talk to them or pull it out of them. There’s a few good rooms, but not many.
Does Miami have a problem with support for comedy?
Support? There’s a lot of problems. [Laughs] I think one of the main things is that not many businesses support comedy, so when you find a business that’s really cool and I think they realize your desperation, they don’t actually compensate the comedian for putting on a show sometimes. I don’t know if it’s cultural or it’s abrasive, but here they’re not really into standup. Maybe it’s generational. Wynwood always has a really good response.
What’s been your best show?
Last Call. It went really well. I had a dude afterwards offering to give me a tattoo. It was the first time I felt cool doing comedy in Miami.
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And what about the worst show?
I mean, I do a lot of bad shows a week. [Laughs] It’s usually one out of eight. One out of eight shows is pretty painful. To give you an example, they have a show where people can throw plastic tomatoes at you, the audience, just to keep them watching. It’s at Churchill’s, and what happens is they throw tomatoes at you if they don’t think it’s funny. But, see, it doesn’t bother me because I know it. Last time I was dodging them, making fun of this girl doing poetry, and she got even madder, and I told her she couldn’t do what I do. So dodge tomatoes, bomb, and deal with humiliation. [Laughs]
Just the Tip
7 to 9 p.m. Sunday, August 7, at Yo Space Gallery & Studios, 294 NE 62nd St., Miami; yo-miami.com Admission is free.