When a person decides to to be a comedian, there are some pretty well-known but ambitious goals many shoot for: Perform on an iconic stand-up stage. Film a stand-up comedy special. Become a cast member on “Saturday Night Live.”
Politicon, a yearly politics-meets-pop-culture convention that was held in July, might not be what immediately comes to mind as an “I made it” career milestone. But Jordan Carlos was certainly happy to be there.
“Politicon is like Comic-Con but, if you can imagine, even nerdier,” Carlos said of the event, where he recently performed.
Politicon is certainly not a place the 39-year-old comedian, writer and performer thought he would have ended up. Then again, he didn’t expect many other opportunities that have come his way.
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The New Yorker by way of Dallas grew up on a healthy diet of comedy, watching “SNL” reruns, British comedy stars like John Cleese, and “The Carol Burnett Show” with his mom while admiring stand-up iconsRichard Pryor and George Carlin. After getting on stage, with the encouragement of his friends, he went from working in advertising and doing stand-up sets at night to taking a chance on comedy full-time.
“At some point, you can’t ride two horses on one ass,” he said. “I was like, I’ve got to try.”
Carlos got plenty of stage experience, but he almost went broke until he lucked into a commercial audition for a heart medicine.
“I wanted it worse than the next guy,” he said. “That was the best blood-thinner audition you’d ever seen in your life.”
Carlos’ commercial put him on the industry’s radar, which led to him becoming a contributor to MTV2 lifestyle and relationship comedy shows “Guy Code” and “Girl Code,” along with similar chances to get his comedy on camera.
“Logo (TV network) came calling and was like, ‘You seem cool. Do you want to do ‘Gay Code?’ I was like, ‘Yeah,’” Carlos said. “I did all the ‘Code’ shows.”
Carlos’ comedy shifted more toward the political realm when he wanted to write for “The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore” on Comedy Central, and he practically “stalked the producer of the show.” Luckily, preparation met opportunity when he was invited to perform at a Comedy Central showcase for stand-up comedians. He stole the show, got the job as a writer and on-air contributor, and soon found himself submerged in the political topics of the day.
“It’s like I went from the funny papers to the politics really, really quickly,” he said. “I always had that in me, but it definitely was awakened when the opportunity presented itself. It came out of me, and I didn’t know how much I had to say.”
“The Nightly Show” was cancelled, but Carlos keeps getting chances to showcase his talents, as an actor, as a writer for his upcoming show for TBS (“Citizens”), hosting Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week” on the network’s Snapchat, and performing for fellow political comedian Samantha Bee’s “Not The White House Correspondent’s Dinner.” He also is seeing more of the country and doing more stand-up than ever on his current Whale Sex Comedy Tour, which comes to Lexington on Sunday at Al’s Bar.
For Carlos, the opportunities continue to be wide-ranging and often unexpected. But whether it’s at a typical comedy venue or being invited to Politicon in consecutive years, performing in front of 1,000 people, he’s doing well.
“Once you get invited to an event like this, and this is the second year I’ve gone, it feels good, man,” he said. “It feels like you’re definitely headed in the right direction.”
If you go
When: 9 p.m. Aug. 13
Where: Al’s Bar, 601 N. Limestone
Tickets: $8 advance, $10 at the door
Call: 859-309-2901 or go to Alsbarlexington.com