Atlanta comedian Joe Smith pokes fun at the absurdities of life with clever commentary

Atlanta-based comedian Joe Smith hosts a comedy night at Limerick Junction on Tuesdays and hosts an open mic on Wednesdays at the Laughing Skull Lounge. (Lola Scott)

On the “City Lights” series “Speaking of Comedy,” Atlanta’s funniest locals share insights on the perks and perils of their profession. Featured on this edition is Atlanta comedian Joe Smith. He stands as proof that comedy doesn’t have to be a young folks’ game; Smith entered the industry in his 40s. “I used to tell myself that I was trying to prevent a mid-life crisis by doing it,” he said, “But really, stand-up just was the mid-life crisis that I happened to fall in love with.” 

Through comedy, Smith says, he can make sense of the absurdities of the world while satirizing them, address his anxieties and find validation and solidarity in his audience. “Perhaps most important, what I wanted out of it was to be among a community of like-minded people — not people who thought like me, but people with similar sensibilities trying to challenge, and make each other laugh thinking about the world differently,” he said. 

But first, Smith had to overcome the common squeamishness that attends speaking in front of strangers about oneself. Once this was mastered, he said, “the only other challenges that I perceive are of my own making. Do I have enough balance with my family? Do I have enough money? Do I have a day job? … How much nonsense am I willing to put up with to get what I want?”

Smith’s comedy, following in the tradition of comedy giants like George Carlin and Bill Hicks, focuses on highlighting hypocrisy and challenging conventional wisdom. But though he keeps the content smart, he doesn’t sacrifice laughs. “It has to be funny first. It can be smart and clever commentary, but if it’s not funny, no one cares,” he said. A featured clip finds him joking about a popular Georgia beer, Three Taverns Brewery’s “A Night on Ponce.” “It tastes like chlamydia and getting arrested,” Smith quipped. “You know what normally pairs well with a night on Ponce? A morning at Grady Hospital.” Smith, however, was quick to attest to Three Taverns’ great sense of humor, who promised him free beer any time he visits the brewery.

Every Tuesday, Joe Smith hosts a comedy night at Limerick Junction. On Wednesdays he hosts an open mic at the Laughing Skull Lounge. Smith also hosts the comedy podcast “Getting My Act Together,” and he’s on Instagram at @yesjoesmith