The bartender at Brooklyn Star doesn’t know Seaton Smith. Perhaps he will someday soon, but not because Seaton’s been a regular for the past several months. Instead, maybe it’ll be because Seaton will be on TV. The 31-year-old comedian and soon-to-be sitcom actor keeps a low profile at the bar-restaurant he visits late at night after hitting the comedy clubs. On this night, he’ll perform two sets in Times Square. Then, he’ll likely do what he usually does: come back to his neighborhood and unwind here with his preferred drink, a Sazerac. Since a kitchen fire took out the original, this Williamsburg location is just over a couple years old. But it has quickly become a favorite go-to for late-night diners and drinkers.
After attending school at Howard University in Washington, D.C., Seaton moved to Brooklyn in 2011. He’s a self-professed former introvert and “black nerd” who came to New York to get better as a comic. And it’s paying off. He’ll soon be a regular on the upcoming () Fox show Mulaney, starring comedian and former Saturday Night Live writer John Mulaney. In his ten years telling jokes at clubs and colleges across the country, Seaton has had other illustrious gigs, like opening for the increasingly popular Bill Burr and being a stand-in for Chris Rock on a recent movie. “You stand in front of a camera while Chris Rock is busy doing something else,” he explains. “And right before they say, ‘Action,’ they say, ‘Hey you. Get the fuck out of the shot.’ That was my job for 35 days.”
Seaton has massive aspirations. “I want to be the biggest comedian in the world,” he says. “I want to be a combination of Charlie Chaplin and Richard Pryor.” So while he plays it cool at Brooklyn Star, don’t be fooled into thinking he’s just a mellow dude. Working the room at a comedy club or hitting the bars pursuing “a particular type of woman,” he’s charming, kinetic, and, naturally, very funny. Here, however, he goes back inside himself to read, write jokes, and plan total domination of the stage and screen.
I was writing all day, well, not all day: I woke up at 2. I was just writing jokes. I’m trying to record a half hour for Comedy Central.
I really don’t like to become friends with a bartender because I feel like now it’s an obligation. I’m just a fan of the atmosphere here. An “atmosphere regular,” I guess. And I live a block away.
I was just Googling “late night spots” at 1 a.m., like, Who’s still open? Who serves food? This was after a show, so I was hungry and tired. This place was open. And then they served me a Sazerac. After that, I’m in love. I love this place forever. I’m hoping I’ll live in this neighborhood forever.
It used to be my PR thing, to market myself as a “black hipster.” But that was like four years ago, and now I have a better understanding of marketing. There are things that I just know that I say that will make a hipster crowd love me. Like, “Yes! I’m going to laugh at that because that’s my responsibility as a liberal.” Pro-gay jokes. Hating on people who are ignorant. That shit. Or like really snarky veggie jokes. That shit will get them to love me.
I like a place that doesn’t give me the pressure to do anything other than drink. Every other bar I feel like, “All right, when’s the next vagina coming?”
It’s hard to be in a relationship as a comedian. There are good people who know how to tell their woman, “This is the way it is,” and then they take days off and find a nice balance. But I don’t know how to deal with the pressure of being mad I’m out every night working. Essentially, I like standup more than I like women. No one likes to hear that. I like working. So, I’m destined to be alone for a while.
I want to get laughs a hundred years from now. I know Charlie Chaplin right before he died had to think, “Yeah, mothafucka’s gonna be buying my movies and laughing at some shit I did.” Literally, Charlie Chaplin was discovered in 1914. His first short films were in 1914. That means, next year, somebody’s going to watch his shit for the first time and fucking laugh. A hundred years later. That’s great art.
I feel like there are bars to chill out and there are bars to be a whore at. I may bring a girl here one day. I don’t want to desecrate the space. Somebody whose company I enjoy talking to, like, if I enjoy her words. Because of the whore I am, I pursue a particular type of woman. So, when I meet a woman who doesn’t fit into that type, who’s actually legitimately interesting, I’m like, “Oh, shit. Tell me your story.” Once in a while you meet a girl who’s legitimately interesting enough to talk. That person I would bring here.