Reporter by Day, Improv Comedian by Night: The Life of Paul Detrick

 

Detrick_Paul_Headshot

D.C. wasn’t ready for his flip flops and bright red hoodie as oppose to penny loafers and button up suits. So, he ditched the political world and snuck his way onto the stage, well, mainly on Tuesday nights.

Paul Detrick is not your average investigative journalist.

For the past six years he has been a reporter and video producer for Reason Magazine and Reason TV.

Detrick has a passion for writing stories on police use of force, drug wars, civil liberties and rights.

 

His hard work paid off when he was selected the winner of the 56th Southern California Awards of 2014 for his article ‘LA County Sheriffs Hassle Photographer, Trample Constitution, Get Lauded by Bosses.

Detrick completed his undergraduate career at University of California Irvine. There he majored in political science and minored in english.

After college, he spent his time working for a conservative nonprofit organization called the Media Research Center in Washington D.C. After a day of working there, he realized he didn’t fit in.

” I called my Dad that night tearing up, telling him how much I hated it. But I stayed with the job because I wanted to work in DC. It covered my rent and I thought I was cutting my teeth for something better,” said Detrick.

After Detrick left the political world, he began freelancing for aviation magazine ‘Flight Journal’. 

Before freelancing for the aviation magazine, Detrick had never edited or reported or didn’t have a passion to be a journalist.

After a financial crisis that happened in 2008, he decided this job was the last place he wanted to be when the world ended.

“I applied to Reason Magazine thinking they may need someone to answer phones or do research, but they didn’t,” said Detrick. “They asked if I was interested in applying for the Searle Freedom Film Fellowship and I told them I was even though I had never touched a professional camera or edited much of anything.”

The Reason Magazine journalist true passion is the research behind journalism.  This is one aspect about the field that he likes to pour into his stories.

One special moment Detrick will never forget in his career is the article he wrote ‘Cops vs. Cameras: The Killing of Kelly Thomas and The Power of New Media.’ The article discussed an incident involving a schizophrenic man named Kelly Thomas who was beaten to death by the police.

“It was a special moment in my career because it showed me everything I needed to know about government power,” said Detrick.

When Detrick heard about the incident he decided to call the police department to get their side of the story.

“Government officials will give reporters information that make them look good; they won’t give reporters information that makes them look bad,” said Detrick. “It is not supposed to happen that way, but unfortunately it does. It’s up to reporters to sift through the facts and figure out what really happened.”

One of the biggest takeaways Detrick wants readers to get from his articles on police force is to always question authority.

When Detrick isn’t reporting and filming serious and heavy news pieces you can find him at the ComedySportz LA, iO West Theater with his group HMS Death at the Miles Stroth Workshop.

“As a person Paul is a snarky, smart, tenacious and good at following a lead and digging up information. This shows in his work which is usually complex, layered, and has a lot of depth. His work if often very serious but his personality is the opposite,” said colleague video producer and reporter Zach Weissmuller.

The improv comedian has been performing at comedy festivals for eight years now. So far, he has performed at the Moontower Comedy Festival in Austin, Texas and the Del Close Improv Marathon in NY just to name a few.

Paul Detrick performing improv skit

“I started performing in Washington, DC, because I wanted an outlet from my button up life,” said Detrick.

The performer took classes at the Washington Improv Theater and later began performing locally in DC.

“I made friends outside my own bubble and I began to learn more about the world. Also, it’s an adrenaline rush to go out on a stage, not know the lines or the blocking and make up a show,” Detrick said.”

 

Reason TV video producer, improv comedian and friend of Detrick, Alexis Garcia has known him for little over a year.

“He is a character, very funny and always makes me laugh. He is willing to help and give feedback. He is a stand up person and always wants to help everyone in the office,” said Garcia.

The five biggest pieces of advice Detrick has for upcoming journalists are:

  1. Ask dumb questions in the reporting process
  2. Think like the person you are interviewing
  3. Back up everything with documents
  4. Go out of your way to get both sides of the story
  5. Be careful of the bias towards authority
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