I wrote about comedy in February on comedian Joshua Bates who has been the host/producer of the “Is This Art?” (Part I, II and III) Stand Up Comedy Shows at Flowertown Players. They will again be there this Friday and Saturday nights for Is This Art? Presents Comedian Jon Reep.
Reep tours nationally with a modern country perspective. South Carolina talent also appearing are Hagan Ragland on Friday (and Keith Dee) and Bill Davis on Saturday (and Joseph Coker)—shows begin at 8 p.m.
For More Information, go to https://www.FlowertownPlayers.org
Regan: How did you get into in comedy?
Ragland: I got into comedy at probably around 8 years old or so. I saw George Carlin as “The Conductor” on Shining Time Station and, one day, I turned on HBO and saw him on a stage saying every curse word known to man. My mind was completely blown away. Later, I was a fan of the specials on Comedy Central Presents so all of that is a big part of it.
Davis: We inherited my paternal grandfather’s collection of classic ’50s and ‘60s comedy albums after he passed away when I was 12. Back then, my grandparents would have parties, get dressed up, and play a party album, and everyone would sit around and laugh. Those albums centered around Bob Newhart, Lenny Bruce, and my all-time favorite Shelley Berman. I’d listen to them for hours. There were others like Vaughn Meador’s First Family series about the Kennedy’s; I didn’t get those jokes but learned the pattern.
R: Did you perform comedy from a young age?
R: No. When I was younger, I was very shy and introverted. I didn’t really break out of my shell until my junior year of high school.
D: I was a horrible class clown but usually pitched my jokes to the teacher since my frame of reference was older.
R: When was your 1st big gig? How do you feel comedy has changed? What’s your worst experience performing?
R: After I was a finalist in the Charleston Comedy Festival Stand Up Competition, I got to perform at the Woolfe Street Playhouse. I feel comedy is changing and evolving all the time and for the better. Most comedy from 20 to 30 years ago did not age well. It takes a while to find a voice of who you are on stage, but I’ve found that what works for me is talking about family and personal experiences. My worst experience was when some friends and I performed comedy on a charter bus for hospice workers. The bus was taking them from Goose Creek to Charleston and we had to fill in the time. Keith Dee, the nicest guy on the planet, went on and got heckled by the group. Then I went up and immediately got shut down after trying one of my raunchier bits. They just completely lost interest. It was horrible! I was sweating so badly, my eyes were blinded. I gave it my best shot but, sometimes in comedy, it just didn’t work out. I was never so glad for a show to be over in my life (ha, ha).
D: Auditioning for Second City’s touring company would have been my first big gig, but I blew it. Opening for Todd Barry, who’s been on a host of TV shows, was big. I told him I finally relaxed about 10 minutes into his act. It got a laugh from him and I carry that memory. Funny is funny, but some of the parameters have changed as comedians have responded to a more polite and inclusive society. I’ve cleaned up my comedy quite a bit from 10 years ago. Once I bombed early on at Comedy Zone when it was in Charleston. After getting crickets for 10 minutes, one of the other comics yelled out, “Hey, Bill, nice lecture!” — the ultimate insult in comedy. It was the only laugh I got that night and it was the other guy’s joke. Another time, a lady came back later to chew me out over a joke she thought was insensitive only to find out I was speaking from personal experience.
R: Which comedian influenced you the most?
R: Patrice O’Neal is my favorite comedian. I always appreciated his fearlessness on stage and he’s also very random, at times. Most of the time, you can tell the person has rehearsed or written out the whole performance. With Patrice, it always came off like he just got up there and did it and never knew what he was talking about next. It is really great to watch. I would never try to emulate that, but I’m forever influenced by it.
D: I am nothing like all the guys I love: Carlin, Kline, Pryor. People say I vocally remind them of Patton Oswalt, whom I adore, but our styles are very different.
R: Is comedy full-time for you? (Bill, you’re also the Editor of West Of, the weekly newspaper in West Ashley).
R: It’s not paying the bills, but the goal is to one day have all my income come solely from comedy. It’s getting busier all the time. I’ve done comedy in NY and have friends up there, so the plan is to move there within the next year or so.
D: I’m working toward it. I do not include comedy in my newspaper work, as my work has appeared in the New York Times, Charlotte Observer, and in textbooks. Not the right venue for a bon mots. I couldn’t move to other cities as I have a family.
R: What’s next for you?
R: People can add me on https://www.facebook.com/Haganchase or Instagram @Dj_TrashRaccoon for updates on my current shows. I’ll also have a couple of comedy sketches I filmed with my friends at Seamless Pictures to be released this month.
D: I am getting out on the road for more shows, like in Charlotte, Savannah, Columbia, and Myrtle Beach, and am looking forward to going fully regional in the next year. Until then, I will host monthly shows at Queen Street Playhouse, Holy City Magic Café, and smaller clubs locally.
Mary E. Regan is a publicist with her ProPublicist consultancy. Story ideas? Email: Mary@ProPublicist.com.