Telling the stories of twenty-somethings to
inspire risk taking., motivate change., celebrate the defining decade., stir ideas., encourage fun., challenge apathy., illuminate the journey., ignite innovation.

Aaron

Aaron Chewning talks about life as a freelance creative, Atlanta's comedy scene, and the advice that helped break his inhibitions.

0 3416

Many twentysomethings are identifying with the title of a “creative.” The popularity and acknowledgement of the “creative” label in the professional world has opened up a whole new realm of possibility for those with passions and talents that seem just a bit too eclectic for a traditional job title.

Aaron Chewning is a freelance creative. He is orchestrating his skills in comedy, production, music, and writing into a collective career that breaks through the neatly stacked boxes of conventional occupations.

We connected with (sorta stalked down) Aaron at the recent Hive Gathering in Atlanta and discussed his unique career path.

Aaron, you are involved in several different areas of production and media – from freelance video production, to stand-up comedy, to a family wedding photography business. How do all of these fit together for you? How did you end up doing all of them at once?

When I began freelancing after college, I combined a few different revenue streams to make a living/not die. I joined forces with my sister to shoot weddings under the banner Achor & Eden, I created videos of all shapes and sizes, and I wrote music for several clients. After four years of freelancing, I’ve narrowed things down a bit… but not much. Comedy was always the ulitmate goal and I’m very thankful that a large majority of what I’m doing now is comedy/entertainment based. I still shoot with Achor & Eden and write music when a project calls for it, but comedic media is my primary work.

When did you first know you wanted to get involved in comedic media?

Lazy Sunday, SNL’s first digital short by Andy Samberg + team, came out when I was a junior in high school. No more than a week later, I made a funny music video (attempting to be funny at least) for the weekly chapel at my high school. My school gave me constant opportunities to host events, create videos, and really create a space for myself. I’d always loved making people laugh but it really wasn’t until then that I began putting comedy and video work together.

How did your very specific education at a niche post-secondary institution influence and benefit you?

I think Full Sail was a great fit for me. It’s a very hands on school that let me really dive in to all aspects of filmmaking. I see the fruit of that every shoot I’m on when I communicate with everyone regarding their specific role – be it the actors, cinematographer, grips, or producers. A lot of film schools that are more theory based wouldn’t have given me that ability. Also, getting a bachelors in 21 months wasn’t terrible either.

Do you find that your age (being a twentysomething) helps or hinders you in this industry?

My age hasn’t had much of an effect on my work. When it comes to getting video jobs, clients want to see things you’ve created in the past, not resumes. It’s not about where you went to school or your experience as much as it is about product you can produce.

Your first Atlanta Braves video had great success and launched a partnership with the baseball team. Tell about how the idea came about and the process of the video going viral.

I saw a few music videos about sports teams that were poorly done (and cheeeeeesy), yet still had a decent amount of views. I knew if we created something quality, Braves fans would be ready to watch and share it. I emailed about 100 people the night before we released the video detailing my plan of attack. I asked them to watch the video and link to it via their social networks at 10 AM. The idea was to create a foundation for virality and for the most part, it worked. The Braves front office called a couple hours after the video went live. They adopted it into their pre-game show rotation at Turner Field for the early part of the 2013 season. From there we built a relationship and I’ve had the opportunity to do a few music videos for them, as well as an interview series.

What is the Atlanta comedy scene like?

The University of Colorado-Boulder recently put together a scientific analysis to find out what America’s funniest cities were. Atlanta ranked 3rd behind Chicago and Boston. That study is actually a lot more credible than it seems (it seems like a bunch of made up garbage, I know). They factored in the number of comedy clubs per square mile and traveling comedians’ rating of a city’s audiences, among other factors. All that to say, Atlanta’s comedy scene is solid. We have some great, established clubs (Punchline, Laughing Skull) and a growing network of small bars and clubs that offer open mic nights. Atlanta has an exciting new class of comics waiting in the wings, and I can’t wait to see the ridiculousness that we create.

Where do you believe comedy is headed in the near future – in Atlanta and the U.S.? 

Stop me if you’ve heard this before… YouTube. Even the current cast of Saturday Night Live features a whole litter of cast members and writers that were plucked from the YouTube popular page. As easy as it is to get noticed, it’s also now easier to get lost in the sea of half-hearded comedic nonsense. Twitter and the other social media networks have been a great new way for comedic voices to be heard. I think recognizing opportunities to get content out there will be immensely important as people try to make a living in comedy.

What are your comedic influences – personalities, shows, etc?

Goodness. There are so many. I grew up watching SNL and I still watch it; both old and new episodes. I think people like Chris Farley, Dana Carvey, Bill Murray, Jon Lovitz, Fred Armisen, and Kristin Wiig, as well as many others, have had a big influence on me. The Lonely Island have had a big impact as well; not just because of their comedy but because of their route to success. They were pioneers of viral YouTube comedy and managed to turn that into brilliant careers.

Can you tell us about any current exciting projects you are working on?

I have a couple projects coming up that I’m really looking forward to. I’ll be getting the word out there about them soon, but for now, mum’s the word.

If you had a big group of your peers (twentysomethings) in a room, what is one piece of advice you would give to them?

It took me a long time to think any of my ideas were worth pursuing, or even sharing for that matter. In my mind, my ordinary, off-beige ideas paled in comparison to these ground-breaking projects I was seeing other people put out. It wasn’t until I began freelancing and had a client give me glowing feedback on a project that I thought was just OK, that things changed. I remember hearing someone speak on this idea early on in my career, and it shifted my entire creative process. It’s the thought that everyone’s ideas might seem obvious to them, but could be extraordinary to someone else. I once saw an interview with the Beatles where they talked about how some of the songs they thought were their worst, became their most popular. We’ve got to be ballsy enough to to put it out there, and let everyone else judge it. You can’t let yourself be the wall standing between you and doing big things.

Photo credit: Andy Brophy

Aaron | Aaron’s Website

Freelance Creative • 24 • Atlanta, GA

Bookmark and Share

Travis & Stephanie

Twentysomething comedy couple talk about getting in the business of making people laugh

0 2266

Find someone who will make you laugh – the age old (well, at least older than us twentysomethings) relationship advice given by every one and their mothers.

Twentysomething couple Stephanie and Travis took that advice when they met each other, and now they’re turning their comedic talents into careers. It all started when the couple, both grads of the University of Georgia, was looking for a fun creative outlet aside from their real jobs. They began taking classes at Automatic Improv together, and loved it so much that when they ran out of classes to take, they formed an improv troupe of their own named Church Socks.

Church Socks is comprised of other local comedians they met while taking classes and now meets once a week for a couple of hours with a coach. The troupe has moved from short games and workshops to longer, more technical scenes and gigs once a month. While improv is what brought out the couple’s love for comedy, they realized quickly that they each enjoy different aspects of the industry. Stephanie thrives most in writing sketches for film and online media while Travis enjoys creating and performing stand up routines.

Stephanie currently works in film production. Since before graduating college with degrees in Mass Media Arts & French, she has worked on film and television projects. She has moved vertically in the level of administrative and logistical jobs in the past 2 years, from Office Assistant for indie film “A.C.O.D.” with Amy Poehler & Adam Scott to currently Assistant to the Executive Producer on a Vince Vaughn feature film. She has also worked on Christopher Nolan’s new film “InterStellar” and Academy Award nominated “Prisoners.” She hopes to take on more producer roles in the future.

For now, she gets lots of practice while producing her sketches online and onstage with Church Socks. While the troupe has grown out of just doing workshops together and is performing more gigs, it still serves as the perfect creative outlet for the couple.

“Honestly, it is such a relief for me to just sit down and start writing,” Stephanie said.

The couple believes their sketches will help them have a competitive advantage with the plethora of comedy out there right now, especially in Atlanta, which was recently named one of the top funniest cities in America.

“Everyone and anyone has the ability and the medium to share what they do with the world,” Travis said. “You have to make sure you have a unique voice.”

Part of that is reflected in their edgy style, which overflow into Travis’s standup.

“I also realize that every time I do standup in Atlanta, I’m just one of 12 white guys with a beard who walks onstage,” Travis said. “I have to develop my own unique style to stand out.”

Travis makes a point to engage with the audience through conversations before or even during his routine. He also includes Stephanie in his creative process to help find the balance in what is natural and funny to him and what will translate to others.

“Whenever I think up a situation or joke I think might be funny, I bounce it off Stephanie and she is able to tell me if its just funny in my head or not,” Travis explained. “Of course, sometimes we both agree on a joke and still doesn’t go over well with an audience. That’s just part of the process.”

Stephanie’s dreams for the future include following in the footsteps of many SNL comedians, writing and acting on the show before being the showrunner of her own show. She is reading all of the recent autobiographies of female comedians, like Tina Fey & Mindy Kaling, who have done the same.

Travis also wants to be able to eventually make a living out by doing his comedy full-time, though right now he is satisfied with his day-job in marketing and his frequent gigs at comedy clubs and bars in Atlanta. He has hosted several comedy festivals in the past year, including the recent Black Box Comedy Festival, performs gigs on average three times a week, has been featured in Aaron Chewning‘s first Braves video, and even headlines at shows now and then. He has recently gotten enough material for a killer 30 minute show (according to Stephanie, who has seen his routines and jokes many times), and hopes to be headlining more in the upcoming months.

When asked to give a piece of advise to their twentysomething peers, they both agreed that taking advantage of your twenties decade is extremely important.

“You don’t have to have it all figured out,” Stephanie said. “We’re so afraid of failure sometimes that it makes us afraid to do what we really want. If you love it, just do it.”

Stephanie described the panic she faced right before graduating college because she didn’t have it all figured out with her career or her future. Looking back, she sees that the panic didn’t help motivate or move her forward at all, but her going out and taking action propelled her to more opportunities than she could have dreamed.

“Now is the time to do things,” Travis said about about the twenties decade. “I see people who are just starting standup comedy at 38, and that is great, but they missed so many years of doing what they love. I started at 23, and I still wish I had started years ago.”

UPCOMING SHOWS:

Church Socks:

May 10th: Down in the Basement Improv Show at The Basement Theatre (Show at 8:00)

Travis Stand-Up:

May 1st: Stand Up (Hosting) at “No Cover Comedy” at The Pointe in Conyers (Show starts at 9)

May 7th: Stand Up at Laughing Skull Lounge in Midtown, Atlanta GA (Doors open at 7:45)

May 8th: Stand Up (Hosting) at “No Cover Comedy” at The Pointe in Conyers (Show starts at 9)

May 13th: Stand Up (HEADLINING) at Laugh Your Balls Off at The Cockpit in East Atlanta (Show starts at 8:30)

May 17th: Stand Up – Opening for the Pretty Late Show with Salon du Shoguns show at Village Theatre (Show starts at 10:30)

Stephanie |

Producer’s Assistant, Writer & Comedian • 24 • Atlanta, GA

Travis | Website

Account Manager, TwentySix2 Marketing & Comedian • 25 • Atlanta, GA

Bookmark and Share