Laugh It Up
America’s Got Talent Fan Favorite Drew Lynch Blends Authentic Comedy with Home-Grown Humor
Drew Lynch’s parents were no different. Though they fully supported their son’s vision, they also encouraged him to develop a Plan B. Raised on the west side of Indianapolis, Lynch’s only aspiration was to act, and he was phenomenal at it, as evidenced by the 24 college scholarships he’d been offered by his senior year of high school. The plan was to perfect his craft in college and then head to Hollywood. Two weeks before classes were to begin, however, Lynch, 19 at the time, announced to his mom and dad that instead of pursuing a degree, he was moving to Los Angeles because, with his baby face and small stature, he could pass for 15, which meant that he could audition for child roles as an adult.
Though his folks were anxious about his choice, they couldn’t argue with his reasoning.
“It was unnerving to move our firstborn to a city of 12.9 million people when he didn’t know a soul,” says his mom Chris, an Avon resident. “It was sink or swim.”
Though he tread water for a bit, ultimately he began landing small roles and auditions for Disney shows and Pixar movies. To make ends meet, he worked nights taking tickets at a comedy club.
Still, living in L.A. was brutal. His rent was $750, and he earned roughly $830 a month—“and that’s if I really saved,” says Drew, who sustained himself on oatmeal, orange juice and a can of tuna daily.
“I had the starving artist thing down,” says Lynch, who refused to create a Plan B for his life because he didn’t want anything to derail him from Plan A— his only plan.
After a year of living in L.A., momentum for his career began building. It was the night before he was to audition for a role on the successful television show “How I Met Your Mother” when a freak accident changed the trajectory of his life. He got hit in the throat with a softball, an injury that caused an incurable stutter. Lynch’s agent and manager promptly dropped him.
“Nobody wants to represent an actor who doesn’t have control over his motor skills,” he says.
While he was still recovering from the accident, Lynch scribbled down some thoughts on hospital napkins.
“I needed to decide whether I was going to embrace this new me — this guy with a speech issue — or if was I going to settle into being a failed actor who took tickets,” Lynch says. “I decided I wanted to reprove myself in a whole other light.”
Two months later, Lynch performed stand-up comedy at an open mic night. Ultimately, his stutter proved to be his niche for his act. Not only that but joking about his situation proved therapeutic.
Prior to his accident, Lynch used comedy to belittle others so as to not shed light on his own insecurities.
“I was trying to protect my ego, but really that was a form of bullying,” says Lynch, now 27.
The accident, however, changed his perspective.
“Now I use comedy to empower myself and show others that they can do the same,” says Lynch, the oldest of four children.
The public identified with Lynch, viewing him as a source of inspiration.
As for Lynch, he set lofty goals, making a promise to himself to perform on 101 different stages in one year.
“I went to the Mongolian Grill, the Korean BBQ, Whole Foods, women’s book clubs, senior centers, the chemo unit at the hospital. I performed anywhere for anyone,” Lynch says. “I’ve done shows with just one or two people in the audience.”
Regardless of crowd size, every show taught him something. Mostly, he learned to feel comfortable performing in any environment. He sprinkled in some gigs at college campuses and clubs and met his “101 goal.” Then he upped it, over three-fold, vowing to do 500 sets in 2014, which breaks down to performing at least once a night, often twice.
“I ended up doing 592 that year,” Lynch says.
Two months later, in February 2015, he auditioned for America’s Got Talent (AGT) where he won over the judges, particularly Howie Mandel, who hit the Golden Buzzer, sending Lynch straight through to the live show at Radio City Music Hall.
Lynch appreciated how Mandel addressed him on such a human level.
“He wasn’t just speaking to me as a comedian,” Lynch says. “He understood what I was going through because of his own mental barriers, neuroses and anxieties.”
Following the show, Mandel became Lynch’s mentor, encouraging him to “just do it” whenever he was offered an opportunity rather than allowing mental anguish to rationalize why not to do it.
“I wanted so badly to be the first comedian to win the show,” Lynch says.
Once again, he put his ego in check and counted his blessings.
“Comedy has taught me that failures shape us and make us better,” says Lynch, who did several impromptu performances last spring when he was back in town at Avon’s Red Curb Improv Comedy Club. He enjoyed the intimate experience of just having 50 people in the audience, though honestly, he likes mixing it up.
Following AGT, Lynch went on to book roles in movies and other standup specials. Last year he also appeared on Conan O’Brien, which he found far more nerve-wracking since he was performing in front of his comedic peers.
Lynch also has an impressive YouTube following with 80,000 subscribers who watch Lynch with his 5-year-old Vizsla named Stella. In his hilarious “Dog Vlogs,” Lynch recounts silly stories while Stella sits beside him, donning a deadpan expression as funny captions float above her head.
“It’s a simple format, but people like it,” Lynch says.
And they like Stella. In fact, when Lynch does “meet & greets” following shows, fans are often just as excited to pet his pooch as they are to shake his hand. Some wait in line for several hours to do so. Though his agent has encouraged him to charge for these interactions, Lynch refuses.
“I want to give everyone the same opportunity, regardless of their financial situation,” says Lynch, who is currently on a 150-city tour.
He maintains a busy schedule, typically flying out of L.A. on Wednesdays, doing gigs on Thursdays through Sundays and flying home on Mondays. Last year he was gone more than 200 days.
“It was the sickest and most exhausted I’ve ever been,” he admits. “But I know the way my mind is wired. I have to always be doing something to actively move my career forward.”
Despite a modified Plan A in a “sink or swim” town, Lynch is doing swimmingly.
Four of Drew’s Favorites
Favorite comedy club: The Comedy & Magic Club in Hermosa Beach, CA
Favorite comedian: Dave Attell
Favorite charity: Any organization that helps animals
Favorite way to handle a heckler: Address the person with humor and do it in a way that doesn’t make them feel awful.