Every comedian has their own style of stand-up they like to perform, but Luke Null takes his performances to the next level by adding music to his material.
A musical stand-up comedian isn’t a typical job, but in Chicago, anything is possible. Luke Null first started his pursuits in the comedy world by moving to Chicago shortly after graduating from Ohio University. Null started out by doing improv shows across various comedy clubs in Chicago, and it was there that Null started to lean toward musical comedy.
“Chicago has the biggest and best improv scene in the country, in the world honestly,” Null said in an interview with The Phoenix. “A lot of the shows that I was doing in Chicago would be like variety shows and I had always played guitar so in my mind I wasn’t really doing stand-up, I was just doing random songs and random bits, but then as time went on I was like this seems to be more my niche and more something that I am good at.”
Null said Chicago is a great place for him or any aspiring comedian to perform improv, but it’s hard making a living with just that. Despite this, Null still found a future in musical comedy — which for Null quite literally means regular stand-up with the addition of music.
“My music is just me and acoustic up there so it’s definitely singer-songwriter,” Null said. “And I like to write poppy-folky songs but my goal at the end of the day that would separate me from a lot of music stand-ups is that I try to make sure that it’s a good song.”
Null said the addition of music to his comedy sets elevated his regular stand-up and encouraged him to pursue something many comedians dream of — “Saturday Night Live” (“SNL”).
When talking about the audition process, Null said “it’s widely known as one of the most stressful auditions in the business.”
“The short version of it is that it’s a long process of them coming and seeing you,” Null said. “They’re having you out for drinks to vet you socially, they’re flying you to New York to audition on that stage, you’re meeting with all the producers and writers, there’s a lot of people that are interviewing you and vetting you.”
Null was one of the lucky ones and was cast as a member of the 43rd season of “SNL,” which aired Sept. 30, 2017, and in doing so joined the stage with famous members Kate McKinnon, Kyle Mooney, Aidy Bryant and long-time cast member Kenan Thompson. However, Null’s time on “SNL” was short-lived as he was only on the show for one season.
Null’s brief time on “SNL” meant he wasn’t in the forefront of many sketches that season, but his shining moments can be seen in sketches such as “Late for Class,” which featured celebrity guest Saoirse Ronan. Although Null got the opportunity to be on a show with such popularity and clout, he said he didn’t have the chance to showcase his musical comedy.
“I’m a musical comedian so every time I auditioned for them I’d do a little bit of music and it was certainly something I thought that when I got cast they wanted out of me, but never really got a chance to do on the show,” Null said.
Despite Null’s short time on the show, he said he took away some lessons from his experience. He still believes the experience helped him with his comedy today, and can apply to anyone who is aspiring to do comedy in the future.
“A big takeaway for anyone who wants to start doing stand up is that learning how to pay it forward and dealing with your failures,” Null said. “You’re not going to be 100 for 100 on every joke you ever try, there’s going to be things that don’t work and that’s okay that’s part of it.”
Musical comedy has been featured on “SNL” in the past with sketches, such as Adam Sandler’s “Chanukah Song” and as a featured member Andy Samberg’s group Lonely Island. Although Null couldn’t perform anything on the show, he still wants to popularize musical comedy and is still doing his own musical stand-up.
Shortly after his time on “SNL,” Null signed with the comedy label 800 Pound Gorilla, and ever since then Null persevered in the comedy world by doing musical stand-up sets. Currently, Null’s stand-up allows him to have more personal freedom with his comedy than he did on “SNL,” which means he can now sing and perform his material any way he wants to. Null also said he believes his comedy especially resonates with college students.
“I actually find that my act tends to do better with the younger demographic,” Null said. “It’s definitely more built for a millenial sensibility.”
Luke Null is currently on tour and will be performing his musical stand-up in cities like Cleveland, Boston, New York City and Washington D.C.