By Matt Levy
This was not an easy profile to write. I say that because there are so many excellent, bizarre and delightful stories about Los Angeles comedian Alex Stypula, the man with the MacGruber tattoo on his arm, that it was hard to choose just what to open with. He’s bursting with ideas. After careful consideration, I figured we should go with the story of his that made me laugh the hardest. In a tossed away aside, Alex informed me that toward the end of senior year, his high school in the suburbs of Pittsburgh sent around a questionnaire of fairly earnest questions. He did not take it seriously at all. One question asked, “What don’t people know about you?” and he wrote, “I am not actually a human, but a pineapple.”
That sets the tone for Stypula perfectly.
I’m still smiling imagining the administrator at his high school receiving that questionnaire baffled at his silly and poignant answer. Alex’s comedy is just like this — a gift that keeps on giving taking your imagination to a place it rarely visits.
Stypula is a man who has been marching to the beat of his own funny for a very long time. In high school, Alex, the son of a nurse and periodontist, wore a lot of “wild tracksuits and tried to be funny and sometimes I was funny.” You remember that guy from high school. The one that was funny in a way that felt underground and different and special. The one that introduced you to movies and music that were “weird and dark” like Catch-22 and Peep Show (two of Stypula’s favorites). You had no idea what this person was going to do but you couldn’t wait to see what it was. Well, as the kids hoped, Alex got into comedy.
He officially began performing standup in December of 2010 at the age of 25. Stypula told me, “The Upright Citizens Brigade TV show came out in my early/mid teens and had a huge effect on me, I loved it so much. It was great to see something as weird as I thought I was on TV.” Based on the show’s improvisatory background, Alex thought he would become an improviser and stuck by that. However, when he moved back home to finish college after studying overseas in Spain for several years, he finally said, “Fuck it, I gotta do something.” And standup was the easiest way for him to start. Alex summed up his humble stand up beginnings nicely pointing out that, “You just put your name on a list and they’ll hand you a microphone. I instantly loved it and it became my priority.”
Over the years, Alex’s comedy evolved to become something truly unique. Whenever he performs, the dynamic of the room completely shifts. He’s not doing your typical clubby set up and punchlines. He’s toying with the idea of what stand up can be and what makes us laugh and why. As noted earlier, he’s taking our brain to places that have never been awakened or remained dormant for years. To give you a clearer picture of this, I’ll try to do justice by explaining one of Alex’s wildly inspired signature bits. In said joke, Alex is watching Game of Thrones with friends and unprompted says, “Don’t mind me, I’m just here for the horses.” The joke is initially met with curiosity by the crowd. It’s a fun turn of phrase but seems more innocent than hysterical. However, by the time the joke has ramped up to its logical conclusion, Alex has the crowd in such a frenzy with equine details that the room is overflowing with joy. He’s a man that’s created his own particular brand of absurdity.
This brand of humor can be further exemplified in Alex’s debut comedy album “Dolphins Are Garbage.” The Pittsburgh native booked a tour, fine-tuned his act and reworked every aspect of the album until he was ready to record it. The title “Dolphins Are Garbage” was taken from a line in one of Alex’s favorite jokes he ever wrote and then he forgot to say the line the night of his recording. He was on a show at that same venue a few weeks later so he came back and recorded that joke once and inserted the audio into the album because he’s an artist that cares about his fans. He’s just a man that has a beef with dolphins and is determined to tell you about it. You have to respect that.
It should also be noted that Alex made the trek to Los Angeles last year to pursue the comedy industry to attempt to take the next step in his storied career. In fact, he’s already busy out there writing a pilot about the gig economy and food delivery as we speak from his Los Feliz apartment. In addition to that, it should be noted that Alex has dipped his toe into many forms of comedy other than stand up including a self described “Stupid, stupid, fucking web series” called Yeah, You Like This! The show (linked below) was made with his friend and collaborator Dustin Dowling. In the show, Stypula plays an odd, pseudo German idiot (his words). The initial idea for the series was “to make fun of all the videos that are just lists of things.” After a few episodes of just trying to do that the series started to evolve. One episode, Alex was on camera with a green screen and Dustin was behind him filming and in a moment of inspiration addressed him as “Friedrich.” Dustin insisted he was Dustin but Stypula refused to listen and proceeded to call him Friedrich. So, the plotless show, comprised of episodes under five minutes, developed into a weird relationship between these two people, where they were and why they never went outside. It’s a gem you’ll want to show all your friends and watch over and over.
What does the future hold for this joke anarchist? Well, in five years, Alex hopes to be in LA because if he’s still there it’ll mean he was successful in comedy. Otherwise, he’ll be happy in Pittsburgh because he’ll have accepted that it’s okay to have made comedy a very beloved hobby that he will never stop doing, while making lots of models of ships. As well as playing pinball. He said, and I quote, “Holy shit do I love pinball. Something about the physicality of it and the actual little ball bouncing around drives me wild. I play it as often as I can, I have an app that shows me where pinball machines are located all over the world.”
Alex Stypula is not a man but a pineapple. He loves pinball, MacGruber and bringing you the unconventional. He might call you Friedrich or expound on the majesty of a horse. I didn’t know how to open this profile but I do know how to end it:
Stop taking my word for Alex’s abilities and let the man speak for himself. You can do this by finding him on the web at these Alex Stypula domains:
Alex is on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AlexStypula
His album “Dolphins are Garbage” is on Spotify and Apple Music: https://open.spotify.com/album/42zX6ZV9ETP1GYU8pgvKxp?si=JXZ4cvwwTCSApWTeFdUYeA
Alex’s web series “Yeah, You Like This:”
And another bonus web series not mentioned before entitled “The Hard Dentist:”
Finally, I leave you with a choice quote of Alex’s:
I used to be really obsessed with death and mortality but not as much recently. But still, how the fuck does anything exist and where does outer space end? Shit’s fucked.