“I want you to hate me and then love everyone else.”

Benjamin Colin Farrington Daniels is not just a man with a long-winded name, but the most hated or most loved person in the room. As a comedian, he teeters back and forth between negative, dry, and absurd to positive, reassuring, and communal. One moment, he’s on stage, offering passive aggressive, backhanded compliments to the people at the bar who can’t seem to quiet down, and the next moment, he’s playing his favorite game — the “Which table is my favorite?” game — giving different groups of people a pat on the back for being attentive or good sports when comedians tease them. Otherwise, he gives bad advice, but in as sincere a manner as possible.

“Online dating is stupid. You shouldn’t do it. You should just be alone for the rest of your life."

He tries to be topical —“So positive things. Ebola. Yeah? That’s cool.” — and even delves into the personal — “What else is going on this week? Oh, my ex-girlfriend and her boyfriend broke up. I’m super fucking stoked for that. Let’s give it up for that ... Told you, positive show, guys. Positive show.”

Daniels has been on the stage as a comedian at various locations around the east coast, including The Soundry, Breakers FX, Jammin’ Java, Epicure Café, Arlington Cinema Draft House, PA’s Lounge, Marco Polo’s, Finnegan’s, and Sully’s. He currently hosts two open mics, Jammin’ Java in Vienna, Virginia and Epicure Café in Fairfax, Virginia.

When going up on stage to make others love, Daniels said, “It keeps me alive. Sometimes, I think about it, and I’m like, ‘I don’t really want to go up and do it. I want to do something else.’ But there’s a feeling that you get when you’re on stage, and you worked on something and crafted it and people react to it on a positive way. I think every comic says it’s that high.”

While always curious about trying his hand at comedy as a kid, it wasn’t until he was 19 years old when he first starting performing at comedy open mics.

“When I first started out, I got bumped a lot ... I never actually got on stage,” Daniels said.

He put it off, not feeling confident, saying he needed to focus on work or his relationship. It wasn’t until he got out of a five-year relationship that he realized he was holding himself back the whole time. With his new positive “Fuck it” attitude, he’s put off worrying about possible outcomes and is now doing comedy for the long run, while hosting comedy open mics to provide others the opportunity to do the same.

“I wanted to give people the chance to try because I think anyone can be funny. Not everyone is going to be a comedian. Not everyone is going to be Chris Rock, or John Mulaney, or – I don’t know – Louis, C.K. But they can try at least,” Daniels said.

He added, “You know, something people cross off their bucket list. I think a lot of different people do it for a lot of different reasons, and I think just having the opportunity is sometimes the most important.”

Listing the best reasons: clinical depression, fear of clowns, mommy and daddy issues (preferably both), childhood abandonment, and fear of shower drains. He reiterated with, “I don’t know what the best reason would be. I think that’s different for everyone ... I think the best reason to do comedy is just ‘cause.”

“Drugs are drugs, and drugs are cool, I guess, but the high of performing and having people react to that — that really is the white horse you’re always chasing, I guess. I honestly think I’d die if I stopped.” 

See Benjamin Daniels on the stage at Comedy Open Mics at Jammin' Java the last Sunday of every month at 2 p.m. and Epicure Café every other Wednesday at 8:30 p.m..

About Michelle Goldchain

Michelle is a photojournalist who loves to live life by never sitting still. You can find her in art galleries in Dupont Circle, ethnic restaurants in Adams Morgan and comedy clubs in Arlington. In her spare time, when she's not typing away at a computer screen, she's probably listening to moody electronic music, watching cat videos or doodling.
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