SEATTLE — Some punchlines require a long delivery to earn laughs. For Seattle-based comedian Brad Upton, his comedy career is decades in the making and is catching a big break, thanks to the internet.
The former Pasco Washington School teacher says he never admitted his comedy experiment in the 1980s would have led him to where he is today — suddenly seeing new success at 60 years old.
“I was doing comedy way before the internet and cell phones so to be going viral is wild.” Upton said, who is well-known for his family-friendly comedy. Years as a teacher prepared him for stand-up comedy, he added.
“Entertaining a room full of drunks and 10-year-olds is the same job," he said.
Over the last year and a half, Upton has seen a dramatic shift in his following. The internet takes partial credit. YouTube, Facebook and other social media platform spread Upton’s comedy like wildfire.
In 2017, he taped a special for a brand new comedy platform Dry Bar Comedy. Clips were released in June of 2018 about millennials and quickly went viral in ways very few comedy videos have ever done. It garnered 12 million views in 48 hours, then 33 million views in 10 days. It sent his CD to No. 1 on the iTunes Charts and had him trending on Twitter.
The world became suddenly aware of this "new" comedian. That video today has nearly 90 million views and according to Dry Bar, is the most viewed stand up video ever.
The pandemic closures fizzles the flames a bit, but Upton's momentum kept climbing.
Shortly after taping his second comedy special, titled “I’m Not Done Yet," Upton suffered a serious heart attack in 2021, requiring three stents to open up his right coronary artery that was completely blocked.
Clips from that special were uploaded to YouTube and that’s when the world truly discovered Upton.
“I’ve heard from people in India who want me to come perform,” Upton said of his reach. His clips found fame online and Upton could hardly believe the size of the audience that was sharing his gently used jokes.
“That’s what’s so funny, I’ve been doing these jokes in the clubs for years, but one video had about 60 million views in 40 days," he said. Today, his videos have more than 200 million views.
“After 34 years, I finally got a big break and the last year-plus has been wild," he said.
Upton often shares the stage with fellow teacher Cory Michaelis, who says Upton went from mentor to megastar, thanks to the power of the internet.
“It’s all about that cup of tea. Not every comedian is your cup of tea, but that’s sort of Brad's thing. He can entertain from 18 to 88," Michaelis said, adding that Upton was his first big guest at a monthly show he produced in Everett in 2009.
“Plus, we both wanted to try out two the of the worst paying jobs in America and see if one sticks," he jokes.
You can follow Brad Upton and see his tour dates and specials on his website.