Sunday, March 23, 2008

Comedy Workout 3/22/08

Once again I performed in the "Comedy Workout" in Eugene, OR. This show is run by local comedian Leigh Anne Jasheway-Bryant. It's a fun showcase that takes place twice a month. The show is always fun and I tend to use the opportunity to test out new material. Last night, I went up with some jokes that were "almost" done, hoping to improv the remaining needed bits and cut the fat later on.

It was a success.

After the Bridgetown Comedy Festival I started a writing a lot of material and this was the first time I got to test a lot of it out.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Shitloads of NEW Stuff

To be successful in comedy, you must ALWAYS BE WRITING. Lately, I've been working on a bunch of stuff that doesn't necessarily fit with what else I have done in the past, but that's ok. Look for the debut of a new type of act coming next month which I will premiere at the "Hungry Tiger Too" open mike, which takes place Wednesdays nights.

More details to come.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Lonnie Bruhn Interview

Lonnie - Cleand Up - 300

Dirty. Funny. Filthy. Hilarious. Offensive.

Lonnie Bruhn has been called all of the above, and much worse.

I had a chance to sit down with the comedian and get to the bottom of a lot of things. He will be performing in Corvallis, OR on Friday, January 18th as a part of “The Fists of Rage Comedy Tour”.

Cody Cooper: It’s no secret that you speak about some very mature subjects during your act. Can you talk a bit about your experiences performing such material?

Lonnie Bruhn: I’m not one of those comics that takes great satisfaction in offending an entire room of people to the point where they all want to walk out. I don’t believe in that philosophy. The key is to perform the material that “I” want to do. My goal is to make the audience think to themselves, “Wow, he was really dirty, he was really not my normal comic, but some reason, I found him really entertaining. I enjoyed it, I laughed and I stuck around.” I think there’s more magic behind that.

I’m trying to get away from the “filthy” label because I hate that word. I’m not filthy, I think I’m honest, and it just so happens that my honesty is just a lot of stuff that a lot of people don’t want to talk about. Our country is really, really uptight and we don’t allow ourselves to do anything without feeling ashamed by it. It’s funny, because there are countries out there that if they listened to my material they would say, “Yeah? and?” If I was to do my set in Germany I might put the crowd to sleep.

I love to see comics be true to themselves instead of catering to a specific group of people, but they have to make it funny. When it comes to jokes being offensive, I have a rule about how I work on stage: I feel as if I take people on a journey. I take them on this trip, and that trip happens to be in a dark hole. If I take you all they way to the end of that dark hole, and I lead you out successfully, you as an audience member are going to appreciate that you followed me, trusted me and that I took you to safety. If I take you into that dark hole and lead you to a dead end and it ends up becoming a trap where you have to turn around and walk back out the way you came in, then you’re not going to follow me into another dark hole. So my rule of thumb is: If you’re going to write something really dirty then that punchline has to be a huge payoff. It has to be so funny that they think to themselves, “Wow, I didn’t know where he was going with this but he took me out. It was funny and worth me paying attention.” If you tell them something dirty with no payoff, then you’re not doing your job, which is to entertain the audience.

With that being said, I don’t think there is anything you can’t talk about on stage. It’s all about how you write and perform the material. Anything can be made fun of if you find a way to make it work.

CC: You’ve been banned from several clubs across the country due to your material, can you talk a bit about that?

LB: I have been banned from two major clubs; some others just refuse to book me. This is because I’m honest and stand behind my material. When talking to the bookers I am always very honest and very clear about the kind of material I do. A lot of comedians just step on stage and do the act they have written and package the product to make it seem palatable. The ones that have dirtier acts sometimes will either walk a good portion of their audiences, but that’s not my goal. If my type of show is advertised for what it is, then there won’t be an unpleasant surprise. They brought me in knowing full well what I do and then, after the fact, asked me to clean it up. They have a business to run, but I have too much integrity for my act to just compromise it at their will. So the two clubs fired me, but I stuck to my guns. A decision I will never regret.

CC: You used to have a cleaner act, what made you change gears and decide to perform the kind of material that you do today?

LB: There are so many things which lead up to it. At that time in my life I was ten years in, many of my colleagues were becoming headliners while I was merely floating along as a middle act. From the beginning I always believed we were supposed to write for the bookers and our audiences. I figured if our performances didn’t offend then everyone would be happy, and that was the type of comedian they wanted to close the show.

It has nothing to do with clean, dirty, offensive. It has to do with being so powerful and so funny, you are the closer because nothing afterwards compares. I was becoming bitter because I was being left behind. I wasn’t writing new material or attending the open mics. When I was on stage I was telling the same stupid ass material that no one cared about. Who cares about airplane food and the differences between cats and dogs? I was writing material for all the wrong people for all the wrong reasons. I needed to write for me. I despised my act.

It was starting to affect my performance too and audiences can see right through that. I was trying to please everyone at the expense of my own happiness and if I didn’t make some change I was going to quit comedy.

CC: When you decided to change your act, how did your existing fanbase react?

LB: First of all, my show was horrific so I didn’t have a fanbase unless you count Mom and Dad. When I was little I made a clay ashtray that looked like a turd and they cherished it. So Mom and Dad love me, turd ashtray and all.

At that same time I was in this dark place in my career. I had just cheated on my fiancĂ©e with my best friend and got her pregnant. (Never fuck a best friend, it’s like friendly fire, someone you care about gets hurt.) So that relationship went very sour and I hurt many people. It was a defining moment in my life. It sculpted me into the person I am today.

I remember the moment very clearly. I was with a very close friend of mine, comedian and headliner, Troy Thirdgill. We were heading on a road trip up to Washington and he suggested that I come up with some new material, start hitting the open mics again. So I did, and when I got there to do my first open mic show, I decided I needed to start from scratch, a rebirth, otherwise I would quit. So I stepped to the stage and told one honest joke after another, I started sharing with the audience secrets most people would never want out. I felt so free. I had love and passion behind the mic again. For the first time in my career I found my voice and was I was so happy. Many comedians tried to talk me out of the direction I was heading in… many who can’t follow me now. And the audiences, they just want us to be honest up on stage, they want us to be funny and they love to see the passion. It has nothing to with being dirty or clean. I am a very lucky man and would never turn back.

CC: Do you think it is important for comedians to constantly evolve and not stay within their “safe zone” so to speak?

LB: If comedians don’t continue to work on their acts, they will evolve anyway, they will evolve into actors doing monologues instead of comedians. A comedian continues writing and should never depend on that one big joke that has always got the laughs because, we need to continue writing for the next big laugh. With that said, there is no reason to ever throw the old material away; audiences still like to here the tried and true. It’s like a favorite song. When they bring their friends to see you perform they are waiting for that one joke they love so they can nudge their friends and say, “You got to here this one.” In my case it’s, “You got to hear this one, it is so wrong but so right.”

CC: Is there any topic that offends you?

LB: The only jokes that are offend me are the ones that aren’t funny or stolen from another comedian. I believe any topic can be written into a joke. However,if you do a joke on abortion or something comparable, the punchline better take us to the promised land of laughter otherwise you’ll never have us on board to trust another offensive joke again.

CC: What advice would you give to amateur comedians?

LB: Write material that “you” think is funny. You are the comedian, the expert. Don’t write for the audience, it’s their job to laugh at the joke you wrote, so trust yourself. Look your audience in the eyes and don’t talk over them. You don’t do that at a party when you talk to someone, so if you want to gain their respect, trust and create a connection by looking them in the eyes. Lastly, write, write and write some more. It doesn’t matter if it is an open mic or professional show, get as much stage time as possible. As soon as you step to the stage, give it your all. Every crowd deserves it, and as an artist, it is your obligation.

CC: What kind of fanbase do you have?

LB: The fanbase I’ve built over the years are a devoted bunch. They appreciate what I do on stage. I’ve been so lucky to have the relationship I do with them and I try to keep in touch. I have invited them to birthday parties and special events just to hang out and have drinks and get to know me off the stage. Some have driven from as far as Medford to come see a show in Portland. So I try to give them the same devotion because without them, I would have an empty room.

CC: Is there a mistake that you made in your career that you wish you could take back?

LB: Sometimes I wish I wouldn’t have wasted the first ten years of my career being fake and shallow behind the mic trying to please too many people. The thing is though I just figure it took that long to sharpen the tools I needed to make the big change when I found my voice. If I didn’t have that experience, I don’t think the last eight years would have been so successful. Honestly I try very hard to never regret anything I do in life. I only regret mistakes I don’t learn from and continue to do over and over again.

CC: Who are your comedy heroes?

LB: Lenny Bruce and Gorge Carlin because of the paths they paved and the sacrifices they made for free speech in our art. Richard Pryor, with out a doubt, is my biggest influence. He told the truth up on stage, talked about his weakness and made them funny. I saw him back when I was in the fourth grade and even then I realized: this was something I wanted to do with my life. It wasn’t until later that I realized what an impact he had on me and my act. A lot of comedians try to mimic him by using the same type of inflections in his voice and the language he used, but that wasn’t what made him funny. It was the truth behind his humor that was the real literary magic. I try to be as honest as I can on stage and try to grab the same kind of connection with my audience that I believe is sorely missed in the comedians of this generation, with the exception of a few.

CC: Do you recall your first time onstage?

LB: I learned a big lesson my first time on stage and it was one of the worst shows I had ever had. I was wearing a leather jacket with fringes and a cowboy hat. I looked like a short Richie Sambora. An audience member yelled to the stage, “Take off your hat, we can’t see your eyes.” I never put on a hat again because it hides expressions.

The back story to that night was I had just got into a huge fight with my parents. I was only seventeen and they kicked me out of the house. It had been a huge night emotionally. I decided to put all my personal issues behind me and go up anyway. I managed to pull off a horrible death but I told the audience at the end of my show that even though I sucked I would keep returning until I got it right. Two years later, I won the Portland Laugh Off and was the youngest person ever to do so at the ripe old age of nineteen. So one bad night led to one of my favorite moments in my comedy career.

CC: How do you deal with hecklers?

LB: I try not to, but if I do have to engage them, I try to never show my anger. Never break the mood. I also try to always repeat what they say for everyone to hear before I respond. It gives me time to think of something, and in a sense, what they say becomes the set up to the joke. All they want is to be apart of the show. If they come up with a great laugh, I give them the respect of weaving a good joke. After all, the audience is laughing and they don’t think about who is really causing it. In the end they think I’m the one weaving a great comical moment.

CC: What was your worst experience at a show?

LB: There was one show that haunts me to this day. I was doing a show with my regular feature act and one of my closest friends, Joe Fontenot. The crowd decided to get me really drunk. Well, a better way of saying it is, I decided to let them. I never really did my act, I just fucked off, forgot bits, pretty much train wrecked the entire show. I’ve been known to run if I have too much to drink. This crowd knew this and they chanted for me to run around the room. So I did, like an idiot. Sure it was funny to some but I know I also let down a lot of people that night. I felt like I cheated them out of their money. I was so ashamed and disgusted with myself the next day; I wanted to refund their money. Nothing like that has happened since and it never will. I don’t regret it though, because I learned a huge lesson that evening.

CC: What is your ideal situation for writing comedy?

LB: I love to take a premise and have an idea or a direction I want to go in with it and flesh it out on stage at an open mic. I’ll work on a bit during a regular show too but mics are better for that sort of thing. I just write better behind a microphone then I do with paper and pencil. If I hit on something good, I’ll take notes after the show. I keep fleshing it out until I get the big laughs and it is tightly put together.

CC: It has been said that, “comedy comes from pain”. What do you think about that statement and how does it apply to you?

LB: I think comedy comes from truth and sometimes the truth is painful. I have had some very hard moments in my life. I have been challenged physically, and at times been in dark situations. I don’t think anyone can say they haven’t, but comedians use comedy to deal with it. At least the good ones do.

CC: What do you do in your spare time?

LB: I spend almost every day working on putting together the tour I’m launching, so I don’t have a lot of spare time. At the end of the day I put together a set list, go to the open mics and work on material. When I do have a moment, I have a hobby of simulation aviation. I do real world flights by real world rules in a flight simulator with charts and everything. I guess I love it because of the procedures. It keeps me so busy I don’t have time to think about all the crap going on in my life. It is a real stress reliever. I would take my pilot license test but because of my epilepsy I don’t believe I would pass the physical. Weird I know, but I love it, and I would talk about it for hours if I could.

CC: You will be embarking on a national tour starting next month dubbed, “The Cripple xXx Comedy Tour”. Can you give us an update?

LB: Putting together this tour has been one of the hardest undertakings I have ever worked on. It has been rewarding but also I have had many discouraging moments. The tour was originally launched to show club owners and bookers that dark humor is still apart of comedy, and if it’s marketed correctly and written well, it can be very rewarding for everyone involved.

CC: During your touring you also raise money for cerebral palsy, can you speak a bit about living with it and how it has affected your life and comedy career?

LB: When we tour, Joe Fontenot and I try to help raise money for The United Cerebral Palsy Foundation. Not all fundraisers have to be boring. Most people that our show will feature humor based on CP, but that couldn’t be any farther from the truth. I have about ten minutes where I discuss it and it isn’t cute and fluffy, it’s brutally honest and edgy. The rest of the show is about our lives. CP just happens to be apart of mine.

Having Cerebral Palsy has never been a disability. I know that sounds clichĂ© but if I didn’t have the opportunity to slow down in life, I would have never seen the small threads of humor within it. I have had very challenging moments, some that made me shake my head and swear to God. When I would pick myself up out of the darkness, I would look back, see the humor in it and bring it to the stage with me for everyone to appreciate. While all the other kids were running, climbing trees and all that stuff, I was on the sidelines observing absurdities of it all. That isn’t a curse; it has made me who I am. There is a fine line between a curse and a gift and some days when it is difficult to find the joke, I think they are one in the same. I’m a man, not a super-hero. I just feel like one on stage.

CC: You will be performing in Corvallis, OR on January 18th, is there anything that you would like to say the fans?

LB: I’m sure a lot of the people reading this have a morbid curiosity or some pre-conceived notions of what my act is like. When I’m on stage I forget about all of my challenges (physical or otherwise) and the audience goes blind to them. We are all together in a small window of time where all that matters is the power of laughter and the ability it has to make us forget the little pains we fight in our daily grind. The truth is I love the stage and my audience more than anyone can imagine. I may be considered filthy by some, but to me it is more honesty. It is the comedy of human nature.

My job isn’t to shock people in to walking out but to speak the things on my mind, and keep you in your seats laughing the whole time. I want to take us on an adventure we will never forget. I don’t merely want to be another stand up comedian; I want to be an entertainer sharing my life experiences with you. You deserve nothing less. You’ve worked hard all week, you need an escape and I’m the one to take you there. All that I ask is that you come to the show with an open mind and I promise you will leave with a memory.

For more information about the show, check the links section along the right hand side of this page and go to “The Fists of Rage Comedy Tour’s” Official MySpace Page.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


Not that this is one of the those "resolutions" that people make, but I really need to start updating this more. So, I vow to do so! There. I did it. So tune in tomorrow for a special treat!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Photos from PCS 12/1/07

Here is my favorite, with more to come.

Cody PCS 12/1/07 300

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Portland Comedy Showcase 12/1/07

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

This show turned out to be really awesome. I had high hopes going in because Joe and I did a lot of advertising for the show and I have to say that my expectations were exceeded. Performing at the show were: Dylan Kasprzyk, Richard Bain, Kyle Harbert, Don Frost and myself closing out the show. It was a mixed crowd, but they all came together to laugh their collective ass off. High lights of the show include:

Richard Bain's impersonation of "A girl getting raped".
Joe Fontenot's shameless plugs for the sale of his CD.
Kyle Harbert's debut of an updated bit on ethanol.
Cody Cooper's entire set (I'm such a dick).

Actually, I thought I had a pretty good set. Here's a quick list of what I talked about tonight:

People on their cell phones in retail situations
State Quarters
Dog the Bounty Hunter
Developing a serious drinking problem
Military Recruiters
War Veterans
Current Pornography
The day I decided that my wife was the girl for me
Communication within marriage

Overall I was pleased with my set and the reaction, but I forgot to tag two jokes and forgot one bit altogether. I tried mainly all new stuff tonight and I had a blast. I've got to get to work on my half hour for the show in two weeks!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Thanks Dog!


Dwayne Chapman, you dumbass! Sure I could go on and on about what you said and what you have lost because of it, but I won't waste my time. I will simply thank you for being the subject of a joke I wrote yesterday which killed at my latest "Fists of Rage Comedy" show tonight. I'll put it online soon for your viewing pleasure.

Cody :-P