University of Vermont

Vermont Quarterly

Funny Way to make a Living

John Fisch
John Fisch '94, photograph by Mindy Tucker

Departments / Alumni profiles

Funny way to make a living

JOHN FISCH '94   Armed with a degree in psychology, Jon Fisch ’94 moved to Boston after graduating to pursue a career in the field of mental health. But after four years of working in hospitals, Fisch tried his hand at a different way of making people feel better. Stand-up comedy was his new calling.

After cutting his teeth on the Boston comedy scene, the Newton, Massachusetts, native moved to New York City a decade ago. He’s now in the fourteenth year of his entertainment career and has become a fixture on the club scene while also making waves with his popular comedy podcast “In the Tank.”

Though he’s nearly two decades removed from graduating, it was a moment at UVM that made Fisch first consider pursuing stand-up.

“I remember seeing a show on campus. I thought to myself, ‘Hey, I can do this,’” he says. But that thought was put on hold while he took his initial post-college path. Another push sent him on his way. “At first I had never thought of it as a potential career,” Fisch recalls. “I would always try to be funny in every day life. And then one day in Boston, one of my co-workers told me that I should try to do it.”

A writing class followed, then the leap to performance. Fisch’s days are now framed around comedy. Every morning, he writes for thirty minutes. By the end of the day, he has usually spent at least two hours crafting jokes. Then it’s time to hit the stage.

According to Fisch—who says that he tries to perform around five nights a week—most of the material he delivers ends up coming from his personal life. “At first, I would only tell personal jokes every so often. But eventually, it was the only thing I liked to talk about,” he says. “These personal stories become very enjoyable to tell over and over again. They don’t lose their luster.”

From appearing at such prestigious events as the HBO Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen to performances on television to opening for Jerry Seinfeld, Fisch has made his mark on the national comedy scene over the past decade. Three years ago, he added his own podcast to the mix, and it has become a staple in the national comedy scene. Every week, Fisch will feature different comedic voices on his show, providing unique insight on the art form.

“I also thought it was interesting to hear the thoughts of other comics as they talked about comedy,” Fisch says. “Usually you would only hear the thoughts of huge names, like Carlin or Seinfeld. But I thought that a lot of comics that I know have these really interesting stories to tell. These are people that many others may not know yet, but they are working comics with a lot of insight to share.”

Fisch says that he has received very positive feedback for “In the Tank.” And the feedback has not just been from fellow comics. Fans of comedy in general have been drawn to his show, as well.

 “I get e-mails from all sorts of people,” Fisch says. “One night, I got an e-mail from this woman who takes headshots for a living. She said ‘You’re doing what I’m doing, but you’re doing it with words instead of with pictures.’”

—Andrew Clark

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