Student and veteran draws smart comedy from experiences

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When most comedians get on stage, they’re hoping for a laugh from the crowd. But when Eric Krug, history junior  and Iraq veteran gets behind the mic, he just hopes the show ends without anyone throwing
a punch.

“I realize that I’m darker and a little bit dirtier,” Krug said. “Most of the material I draw from right now is the election and making fun of people’s high level of political correctness in general. But I honestly don’t like offending people.”

While stationed in San Antonio in 2005, Krug began driving up to Austin on the weekends to perform his sets. After his service, he moved to Austin and established himself in the area, winning the “Funniest Person in Austin” contest in 2008.  Krug said his sets include jokes that come off as offensive but are never meant to be truly critical.

He recently stood on stage at the Velveeta Room, a comedy lounge featuring old-school comics and unpredictable audiences. As Krug was getting into his bit about his time in the war, an older gentleman stood up and warned him that he shouldn’t joke about Iraq veterans. Krug didn’t mind the criticism — he was used to it.

He recently did a tour in Europe and was booed for 20 minutes by a Wales audience that didn’t like the way he joked about its country. 

“Me and the audience, we just didn’t mesh. It wasn’t anything personal,” Krug said. “Comedy is a process of validation. When I started doing stand-up, I was playing to the reactions of other comics. If you’ve proven yourself to be a decent comic to them, you don’t mind certain reactions anymore.”

Matt Bearden,  a comedian who has been in the Austin scene for 20 years, saw Krug for the first time at an open mic night. He said Krug was the last person on the list — and the last people are
generally “scrubs.”

“I could tell he was green, but after hearing him, I knew he would be good,” Bearden said. “I think he offends a lot of people. You have to be a little clever to follow along, but that’s why we enjoy him. I’ve seen every type of bad comic, and it’s fun to see a good one.”

Krug has a love for the Austin comedy scene but plans to move to Los Angeles after obtaining a history degree to continue his comedy career. As a student and a performer, Krug said he often juggles passions for his education and comedy.

Brendan K. O’Grady,  who runs Sure Thing Records, the label that recorded Krug’s album at Austin Sketch Fest in May, said Krug manages to embed history in his comedy and do it pointedly.

“It’s hard to have a five minute joke on being a presidential historian,” O’Grady said. “But he manages it and is universally relatable and extremely funny. His comedy is time-minded and intelligent, and he always has a unique take on something that people aren’t talking about.”

Krug’s brand is his wit, and he continually produces new content to uphold that reputation.

“Stand-up comedy is an art form in itself,” Krug said. “I started all of this because I was interested in being a filmmaker, but I got into stand-up because you can create the whole show, start to finish, by yourself. It’s unique in its autonomy.”