Miami New Times' Mastermind Awards honors the city's most inspiring creatives. This year, we received more than 100 submissions, which our staff narrowed to an elite group of 30. We'll be profiling those honorable mentions, and eventually the finalists, in the weeks to come. This year's three Mastermind Award winners will be announced February 28 at Artopia, our annual soiree celebrating Miami culture. For tickets and more information, visit the website.
Stand-up comedian, writer, and podcaster, Daniel Reskin, host of the monthly comedy showcase Casa de Haha, lives for laughs. The 27-year-old Miami native has been standing up in front of audiences for five years, dedicating himself to "exploring this expressive and illusive craft and the people drawn to it... plus in the past several years I have finally stopped feeling guilty about selling myself, so that's nice."
He waxes comical about South Beach princesses and queers, being a server at an upscale restaurant, and pretty much everything that makes Miami, well, Miami. And although he does poke fun at the 305, Reskin is all about making audiences "laugh with, not at Miami."
Although most his gigs are unpaid, he knows that comedy is truly an art. Says Reskin, "Stand-up as we know it is a young, uniquely expressive and evolving art form. And I'm just excited that calling stand-up comedy an "art form" almost doesn't sound pretentious. The conceptualization of a joke is like the seed of any artist's idea, except sometimes it leads to a laughing fit during a moment of silence. A truly great stand-up comedian must have mastery of their mind; the craft never allows it too much comfort. The art is in the creation and the relation; you have to paint the picture every time. You're a storyteller, debater, actor, social scientist, orator, and above all, jester."
So what makes Reskin a good artist? "My face naturally looks like I'm wearing a pair of novelty Groucho glasses."
Cultist: In first grade, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Daniel Reskin: First grade Daniel knew that he was moving to Redmond, Washington, to work at Nintendo of America. A lofty goal, but I wasn't naive. I realized I would have to work my way up to head game designer by becoming a tester stuck playing video games all day. What a work ethic.
Favorite male comic of all time?
Has to be George Carlin. Prolific, creatively unhinged, and courageous. Add in his evolution, role in free speech legislation, and beardiness, and he is The Beatles of stand-up.
A current one, Maria Bamford. Her characters and concepts are bizarre and brilliant. Her material and performance gracefully breaks step with what an audience expects. She is a delight.
Name three comics you wouldn't want to share a tour bus with.
Wait, you have work for me? I will share a tour bus with anybody! There isn't a comic too egotistical, neurotic, or destructive to keep me from trying to learn something (if only how to avoid their fate). Usually, the truly unbearable comics are hobbyists, and will always be coming and going.
Favorite thing about Miami?
Miami's stand-up scene is large enough to be exciting and rewarding, but small enough to try anything. Put on a showcase for dogs, bring a violin onstage, plant hecklers in the audience like Andy Kaufman. Miami has nothing but time/space to explore/grow.
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Least favorite thing about Miami?
The double-edged sword of the last answer. Because there's so much open space, any yahoo can start a poorly-run comedy night that detracts from the overall scene. Or you may run a masterpiece of a comedy showcase, cough, CASA DE HAHA, cough, every second Tuesday at Sweat Records, weird cough, that doesn't reach a wider audience. The gravitas of comedy towns is lost.