“The main things to remember if you want to become a standup comic is to have lots of confidence in yourself and believe in what you’re doing,” said comic actor and Saturday Night Live alum Chris Kattan, set to appear Thursday to Saturday, Sept. 26-28, at Helium Comedy Club, 2031 Sansom St. in Center City. Of course, talent doesn’t hurt either, which is obvious in Kattan’s case. And for now, after decades of doing television and film, Kattan, 42, is concentrating on showing those talents as he does standup comedy in front of live audiences.
“My preference is to make people laugh, even stand in front of them and watch them laugh,” he explained. “There’s enough seriousness in the world, so I like being one of the few people who can make others feel good about themselves and enjoy life. Not many people get that opportunity.”
In fact, Los Angeles native Kattan admitted he was practically born to make people laugh. The son of Kip King, actor and founder of the renowned comedy troupe The Groundlings, Kattan remembers standing backstage to watch his father and others perform.
“For a young boy, it was great,” he said. “I’d watch my father and people like Paul Reubens and Phil Hartman and some of the other great sketch comedians of the day. And it all made a terrific impression on me,” he said.
That, he added, was the start of making him want to follow in his father’s footsteps. “You know, anything that helps you can also work against you, especially trying to join The Groundlings. Just because my father was one of the original members and a founder didn’t mean I was funny and would be accepted on those grounds alone.”
But the young performer had no trouble eventually proving himself, as he did later when he moved to New York to join the cast of SNL in 1995. Before he left that show in 2003, Kattan had created many memorable and quirky characters, including Mango, Mr. Peepers, Gay Hitler and, most notably one-half of the Butabi Brothers with fellow SNL (and Groundlings) cast member Will Ferrell.
Kattan said most of his characters came from “anxiety or an alter ego. Seriously, most came from whatever I thought would make people laugh. I think they did and still make people laugh today. They are not temporary. I have always felt that humor that lasts forever is the best, which is why I stay away from political stuff for the most part because that humor doesn’t seem to last too long.”
He added that inventing those characters and just being on SNL was a great experience for him. He said, “Over the years, there were challenges on the show, but challenges are what make you feel stronger, although maybe not at the moment they’re happening to you. Being on that show also created many great friendships so that SNL is still like my home base no matter where else I go and no matter what else I do.”
Today, as he tours comedy clubs around the country, he said that much of his material is improvised and depends on how much space he has to jump around.
“I do a lot of characters in my show, but I also like to improvise a lot because that’s what I’ve been trained to do. And I might talk about personal things like the loss of my father or do some tap dancing. Whatever. And through it all, I love getting involved with the audience.”
For times and ticket information call 215-496-9001. ••