The Washington Post

‘Ground Floor’ comedian Rory Scovel brings silly spontaneity to the DC Improv

"Ground Floor" co-star Rory Scovel performs stand-up at the DC Improv this weekend. (TBS) “Ground Floor” co-star Rory Scovel performs stand-up at the DC Improv this weekend. (TBS)

It’s hard to pin comedian Rory Scovel down. He’s weird. He’s silly. He’s reliably unpredictable.

Take any of his numerous appearances on “Conan.” In 2011, he told jokes simultaneously with friend and comic Jon Dore, each talking over the other. Last year, he did an entire set in a thick Southern drawl. In September, he donned formalwear and riffed on grocery store restrooms while a pianist played behind him.

Most of the time, the Los Angeles-based comedian isn’t even sure what he’s going to say when he walks onstage.

“I would love it if it was 100 percent [improvised],” Scovel says of his act, which he brings to the Improv this weekend. “That’s the goal.” (These days, his stand-up sets are about 40 percent unscripted.)

“I think there’s an element of 1: Me getting really bored with myself,” Scovel says, “and 2: I’m pretty ADD and lazy, so I forget how the joke goes. … People will say, ‘Oh, that joke was so different.’ It’s not really a choice. I couldn’t remember.”

The South Carolina native, who began his comedy career in D.C. in 2004, has had to stick to the script more than usual of late, thanks to his role in the new TBS sitcom “Ground Floor.” The comedy, from “Scrubs” creator Bill Lawrence, is about the divide between an investment bank’s top floor (the bankers) and its bottom floor (building support). Scovel plays oddball IT guy Harvard, a name he earned because, unlike his ground floor colleagues, he went to college (albeit community college).

“Ground Floor” is an old-school, multi-camera sitcom filmed in front of a live studio audience, a style that Scovel admits “seems so cheesy” on the surface.

“If you asked me at the beginning of the year if I could have ‘The Rory Scovel Show,’ what would I want it to look like, I would have never ever thought: a multi-camera show,” he says. “But having done it now, I really see why people like it and I also can understand why audiences are so drawn to them.

“It’s the simplicity,” he explains. “I like that the jokes carry so much weight.”

It helps that Harvard, who recently made his office crush a photo mosaic of her face using hundreds of images of himself, skews strange.

“I’m lucky to have this character not be too far off,” Scovel says. “When they were like, ‘Oh, he’s a weirdo.’ I was like, ‘Oh great, I can totally do that.’ ”

Jokes on Record

This week, Rory Scovel dropped his second comedy album, a vinyl-only, loosely improvised live set recorded at Jack White’s Third Man Records. The album (available at is unique because the track listings on the record’s sleeves and labels are in Braille. Why? You’ll have to listen to find out.

DC Improv, 1140 Connecticut Ave. NW; Thu., 8 p.m., Fri & Sat., 8 & 10:30 p.m., $17; 202-296-7008. (Farragut North)

Rudi Greenberg is Express' Weekend Pass editor and comedy columnist.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Video curated for you.
Next Story
Kristen Page-Kirby · December 19, 2013