Comedy: Brandon Vaughn wants the truth

Louisville native Brandon Vaughn first took the stage many years ago at the Comedy Caravan when the revered “Louisville Comedy Underground” show was still a regular fixture. He honed his stand-up with some of the most recognizable names on the Louisville scene — and he started the mass exodus. Not in any sort of rats-from-a-sinking-ship way, but rather, he was the first to take the next logical step when he moved to Los Angeles. And since then, he has proved success is possible for small-town kids in big-time markets. Vaughn returns to Louisville this week for a progress report.

LEO: So you’re coming home …
Brandon Vaughn: Yeah, I dig it — I’m getting kinda homesick. People always ask what Kentucky’s like. They think it’s all hillbilly, but the Highlands is just like the neighborhood I live in now. Silver Lake is pretty much just a bunch of bars and tattoo shops … just like Bardstown Road.

LEO: Is there a unique perspective that being from the South gives you from other comics in L.A.?
BV: I don’t know, we’re a little more relaxed … I don’t wanna say “Southern charm,” but we’re a little more endearing to the audience.

LEO: Who influences you the most?
BV: When I was in college, I really got into Patton Oswalt, Maria Bamford and those guys. But in more recent years, it’s been guys like Kyle Kinane and Rory Scovel. They’re really great comics. There are a couple of guys, and Rory’s one of them, I can’t watch him — I just literally laugh too hard.

LEO: The most common answers I hear are Carlin and Pryor. Why do you think they’re so universally influential to comedians?
BV: Well, Pryor in terms of truth-telling — being incredibly honest about who he is, where he comes from and bringing real honest opinions about things. Now Carlin, for me personally, he was kind of an awakening. I mean, everything he said was a new idea I’d never heard. When I first heard Carlin, it was like my first experience with a cool adult. Don’t you remember being a kid and looking at somebody like: That guy, I wanna be around that guy — because you’re looking for someone to mold your brain.

LEO: You mention Pryor and truth. Is truth necessary on stage — or can you be Larry the Cable Guy, where you’re projecting someone else’s truth?
BV: Well, both are valid, I guess. In terms of the character thing, and not just the mainstream Larry the Cable Guy stuff, there’s a lot of alternative character-based stuff, and it’s not for me. I only have a certain amount of attention span for it. I don’t mean that in a negative way, because for 10 minutes, I’ll find it hilarious. I just can’t imagine watching it for 45.

LEO: But if they’re open with you, you can watch them for hours?
BV: Yeah, once you instantly connect to what you’re watching, you can just sit back and go with it. You don’t even have to be laughing as long as you’re engaged with it. Honesty can go a very long way.

‘The World’s Finest Comedy Show’
featuring Brandon Vaughn, Raanan Hershberg and Craig Williams
Thursday, Dec. 27
The Bard’s Town
1801 Bardstown Road
$5; 8 p.m.