Known by fans across the country for his numerous national television appearances, his yearly theatre tours and for headlining the nation’s hottest comedy clubs, Don “DC” Curry is probably most widely recognized for his comedic acting role as the zany “Uncle Elroy” on the hit urban classics, “Next Friday” and “Friday After Next.” He’s currently developing his own comedy reality show, “No Chit,” about comedian’s lives on the modern-day “Chitlin Circuit.” His credits also include a recurring role on the new Aaron McGruder sitcom, “Black Jesus” (fall 2014) and guest appearances on: “The Boondocks,” “Everybody Hates Chris,” “The Steve Harvey Show,” “The Chris Rock Show,” “HBO Def Comedy Jam,” “Martin Lawrence’s 1st Amendment Stand Up,” “Comics Unleashed,” “Comics Unleashed Hot Chocolate,” “TV One’s Way Black When,” host of “BET Comic View,” his own Comedy Central Special, his own BET Special, a series regular role on ABC’s “Grace Under Fire,” and the Winner of the “Bay Area Black Comedy Competition.”
When I was younger, I would try to make all of my family and friends laugh by doing impersonations and/or spout off silly comments and observations. I had a few (and I mean few) individuals make comments about how I should be a comedian. And I actually thought about going into that world. I figured that if I made a few people giggle at my dumb jokes-I could easily have an amazing experience. As time went on, I determined that I should just stick to I know, and be a writer.
For comedian Jackie Kashian, the past couple of years have been anything but relaxing. Recently, Kashian has bumped being on the road and performing at comedy clubs from 25 weeks to 35 weeks a year. Luckily for Kashian, though, a typical week will consist of being on the road for 3 to 4 days, and the rest of the week being home. The days being at home are particularly a nice welcoming to normalcy in part due to Kashian recently getting married. “I’m a beacon of hope for everyone who ever to get married and never thought that they would,” Kashian playfully said to me during our phone conversation. On August 8th, Kashian will be performing at Wiley’s Comedy Club, located at 101 Pine Street in Dayton, Ohio.
Growing up in the state of Wisconsin, around the Milwaukee area to be exact, Kashian grew up with five siblings and a father that was a salesman. Kashian mentioned that during her childhood, her father never had anything related to comedy in the house. “We would always listen to motivational speakers…I learned more about pitching and closing the deal than comedy.” It wasn’t till she was a little older and attending college in Madison, Wisconsin when she discovered the world of stand-up comedy. Kashian attended a show one night at the local comedy club, and loved it. She kept going to the club to watch the other comedians to the point that the manager approached her one night. “The manager came over and said to me ‘Open Mic. Sunday.’” Kashian said. So, Kashian without any hesitation went to the club to do a set at the open mic. “It was like heroin…the first time I did it, I’m sure I was terrible, but I just going back.” For eight months, Kashian would go to the comedy club and perform every night. “I was the only woman, so I got lots and lots of stage time,” Kashian added.
Kashian wanted to leave college and continue to pursue comedy after the eight month stint at the local club, but her sister pressured her to finish. After she graduated college, Kashian packed up her belongings and moved up to Minneapolis, Minnesota. The decision to move to Minneapolis was in part a start over. “Whenever you move to another city in stand-up comedy, you have to reinvent the wheel a little bit,” Kashian says. The change of scenery gave Kashian a better audience to perform to, and it allowed new eyeballs to see and ears to hear her set. Kashian lived in Minneapolis for about six to seven years, and then relocated to her current residence in Los Angeles.
According to Kashian’s website (www.jackiekashian.com), she describes herself by saying “comedy is like listening to a really racy episode of All Things Considered”. Her material comprises a multitude of past and present experiences of her family life by telling stories about her siblings and her father when she was growing and today. Kashian’s views on relationships are very unique, fascinating, and extremely out of the ordinary in her work. The reason is because she has had one relationship in her entire life-the one she is currently in with her now husband, having just gotten married near the age of 40. “I just never wanted to date,” Kashian explains. “My husband always says that it’s great that I never really had a boyfriend because he doesn’t really have any expectations to meet, and the bar is low. I just tell him that the bar is not low, my expectations of him are to be a decent human being.” Her presence on the stage, along with the delivery of her jokes, is light-hearted and fun. Kashian is very sarcastic, but also very pleasurable to be around.
Kashian’s resume includes a half hour special on Comedy Central, being a semi-finalist on the NBC television contest Last Comic Standing, and recently being featured on Conan on TBS. Her second comedy album, It Is Never Going To Be Bread was one of the top ten comedy albums of the year on Amazon. Kashian also hosts a weekly cult favorite podcast called “The Dork Forest” where she creates a safe space for people to admit that thing they dork out about more than anyone. Kashian recently has released her newest stand up special This Will Make An Excellent Horcrux and it is available on the website www.allthingsrecords.com for $5.
I wonder what it would be like to be up on stage and perform rehearsed material to the gathering of patrons at comedy clubs. I wonder if my jokes would have the on-lookers rolling on the floor, laughing uncontrollably. Individuals would be reaching out to their napkins and/or tissue to wipe off the tears that are rolling down from their eyes. Others would lean onto the person sitting next to them, smiling and chuckling. My material would be your typical observational humor, chronicling the misadventures of my life and what I have experienced. Throughout my set, I would share the high jinxs and shenanigans of my youth and early adulthood. I also feel like maybe it wouldn’t fare well and I should just leave it up to folks who have been putting in their time.
Case in point-the wonderful Jackie Kashian.
Jackie Kashian’s show is at Wiley’s Comedy Club is Friday, August 8th at 8:00pm. Preshow admission price is only $12. Admission is $16.00 on the day of the show. To purchase tickets online, just click this link – http://www.showclix.com/event/dayton
“My college roommate thought he was Hunter Thompson. He started calling me Dr. Gonzo. I asked him why, and he threw me the book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. ‘Gonzo’ refers to someone who takes it to the edge without falling off.”
And Gonzo sure has. After receiving his degree in 1977, he and a buddy moved to San Francisco to produce a play. “For a long time there, I worked at mindless jobs — putting boxes in boxes, sweeping rain off roofs. I made some money playing guitar.”
Gonzo started to get gigs at the Boarding House, in San Francisco, and other popular clubs — “the places where Steve Martin and Robin Williams performed,” he says. At that time, he was developing his special mix of humor and song. He opened for the Bay Area band Huey Lewis and the News for more than a year and appeared in the band’s videos.
Means also toured with another San Francisco band, Jefferson Starship, did some shows with Stevie Ray Vaughan and told jokes on the syndicated Los Angeles comedy radio show, “Five O’Clock Funnies.”
“I was the cartoon before the movie. When I was on the road with a band, I stopped in local comedy clubs and met all these wise guys. Then I started working the clubs all the time.” In 1991, he was asked to open for Joe Walsh during a time when Walsh’s band, the Eagles, was not together. “I got to live my rock ‘n’ roll fantasy. I was playing with one of my idols.”
I first met Dr. Gonzo sometime in the late 80’s when he was one of the top touring comedy headliners and I was a young club manager, running the show and partying til dawn after the shows each night. I can’t say my memories are all that clear about a lot of what happened back in those days, but I do remember one weekend night Gonzo was playing a club I managed in Buckhead, the hot night spot in Atlanta. We were packed the first show, the bar was rocking and Gonzo was on stage living up to his “Doc of Comedy Rock” billing. The box office summoned me to deal with some dude that was saying he had a back stage pass that John left for him. I head up, see a scruffy looking guy in a ball cap that looked pretty wasted and insisting “John left me a back stage pass.” I laughed and said, sorry no such thing as a backstage pass at a comedy club and there was no John working the club.
In between shows Gonzo mentioned he was supposed to leave a ticket for a friend of his that was in town for a gig. I laughed and said oh, was it a backstage pass, making fun of the dude from the box office earlier. He laughed too, and said just leave a ticket for Lewis. Then he said, he may ask for me by my real name, John Means. Suddenly I got a weird feeling, I think I’d just turned away his friend. I told Gonzo that and just chuckled and told me I’d kicked out Huey Lewis. He was in town for a gig the next day and had asked Gonzo to jam with him. Gonzo, being the nice guy he was, just laughed and said it would be all right. And later that night, as all three of us were hanging out back at the hotel, we were all feeling pretty good and laughing and it was all right.
I haven’t seen Dr. Gonzo in years. He moved back to his hometown of Mason City, Illinois in the 90’s to raise his son. He ran for and won a place on the City Council, started teaching at the local college and as we all said in the comedy business, he grew up and went legit. He and his wife bought and ran an Italian restaurant in town and then a second. In 2011 Gonzo came out of retirement to perform at the 30th anniversary of Comedy Day in San Francisco, his old stomping grounds. What he learned is that after 30 years, he could still make people laugh. And he’ll be doing that this weekend in Dayton.
Catch Dr. Gonzo at Wiley’s Comedy Club in the Oregon District.
Friday March 14th at 9:00pm with an admission of $12.00
Saturday March 15th at 8:00pm and 10:30pm with an admission of $15.00
DMM Ticket Giveaway
DMM has 2 pairs of tickets for Friday night’s show. We’ll do a drawing at 4pm Friday and post the winner’s names on this post. To enter the drawing, like this post and fill out the form below.
Our contest is closed, congratulations to Scott Strawser and Patsy Sanders-Mercuri
When you’re voted class clown 3 times during high school, it’s only natural that you grow up to be a comedian. In the case of Eddie Griffin, his Kansas City, Missouri classmates certainly predicted the future for him.
Eddie Griffin has created a comedy career that includes roles in movies such as Deuce Bigelow: Male Gigolo, Date Move, Scary Movie 3, and Norbit. His most memorable movie role was the title character in Undercover Brother.
On stage, his comedy has been described as an interesting mix of intelligent, provocative, and not for the faint of heart. There are no topics that are off limits and he is not afraid to offend on the way to the punchline. Yellow Springs resident Andre Kinley had this to say, “Eddie Griffith is crazy funny! Tons of intellectual insight that would catch the attention of just about everyone. He has great delivery and his approach is cunning! I would definitely go to another show…money well spent!”.
Local comedian, Doug Morgan, shared his own Eddie Griffin story. “12 years ago me and 6 white friends sat front row at Dayton Memorial Hall to see Eddie…the whole show was on us. It was awesome especially when he found out my buddy’s sister’s name was Bobbi Jo…when we told him..he just dropped the microphone and said “BOBBI F’N JO…the crowd went nuts.”. It seems as if Mr. Griffin leaves every audience with something memorable to talk about after the show.
Eddie Griffin is appearing this weekend at the Dayton Funny Bone. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday 7:30 and 10:00. Tickets run $30 and can be purchased at daytonfunnybone.com or by calling 937-429-5233
Ralphie May’s popularity exploded after the success of the first season of NBC’s hit reality series, “Last Comic Standing”. Long-time fans of Ralphie’s stand-up were joined by countless new fans when America thought he was robbed of the winner’s title. Despite the show’s outcome, Ralphie’s special brand of comedy combines the familiar elements of hip-hop and topical comedy with a dash of southern down-home flavor and quick wit making Ralphie May one of the most popular comedians in the country.
His first DVD, appropriately titled “Just Correct,” went PLATINUM! Released on February 10th of 2004 by Melee Entertainment, a division of DreamWorks, the collection has been described as “fresh and very, very funny.” The DVD also includes footage of his USO Tour to Iraq where he could be seen swimming in Saddam Hussein’s pool.
His special brand of humor and incredible timing has allowed him to cross social, cultural, and ethnic barriers and has earned him roles in such films as FOR DA LOVE OF MONEY and GAS, to name a few of several independent productions. Ralphie has worked as an actor, writer and producer on ESPN’s Mohr Sports starring Jay Mohr and had four appearances on CBS’s The Late Late Show w/ Craig Kilborn as well as eleven appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live. He has been seen on Tough Crowd, The Man Show and MTV’s Bash as well as in guest-starring roles on numerous television shows including NBC’s Whoopie. In an appearance on The Tonight Show w/ Jay Leno he received a standing ovation, the first comedian in 10 years to receive this honor. The New York Times raves, “Ralphie is phenomenal…”The Washington Post describes his comedy style as a “Tour de Force.” At the age of seventeen, Ralphie entered a talent show, to which the winner would get to open for Sam Kinison. A dream came true… Ralphie won the contest and after the show, Sam turned to Ralphie and said, “That was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”
A long way from that first night opening for Sam Kinison, Ralphie’s 2nd DVD/CD just recorded in Knoxville, Tennessee April 2006. “Girth of a Nation” was released in the fall of 2006. His new Comedy Central Hour Special, “Too Big To Ignore” just aired in the spring. Ralphie is currently touring the Nation’s finest Theatres and Comedy Clubs.
On Tuesday July 24th, 2012 7:30pm, Ralphie May will perform at the historic Victoria Theatre ( doors opening at 6:30 PM) Reserved tickets will go on sale at 10:00 am on Friday, June 8th. Please call (937) 228-3630 or visit www.ticketcenterstage.com to order tickets.
Dayton Most Metro has FOUR PAIRS of tickets to see Ralphie May at the Victoria Theatre on July 24, 2012 – simply fill out the form below and then leave a comment below telling us who the last stand-up comedian you saw was. We’ll draw four random names on Friday June 8th at 4pm – GOOD LUCK!
Congratulations to Jesse Barnett, Kristen Hammaker, Michelle Wysong and Felicia Dellis – they’ve each won a pair of tickets to see the show!
Many of you may know that for years I owned a comedy club here in town. Folks are always asking me who’s funny and to tell them when someone good is coming to town. That’s hard for me to do, for a couple of reasons. One- after 20+ years of seeing comic’s I became very jaded, what makes me laugh tends to be the obscure or the sick deviant stuff. Another is that I really prefer to know what you like before I recommend someone. I can send you to see a squeaky clean show, political satire or silly song parodies, but not every show is for everybody. Every now and then there’s an act that I think is pretty all encompassing and this week the Funny Bone at The Greene has him, Paul Mecurio. He’s an emmy winner for his work on The Daily Show!
Here’s what the Huffington Post has to say about Paul:
Paul Mecurio took an interesting route to becoming a comedian, beginning his career on Wall Street as a mergers and acquisitions lawyer and moonlighting in the clubs. Now he headlines comedy clubs around the country. Most recently, Paul launched Got No Game with Paul Mecurio, a new web series on HBOSports.com which tackles the world of sports with a comical look at the compelling stories and outrageous events away from the field through original sketches and one-on-one interviews. New episodes of Got No Game with Paul Mecurio will post each Friday through September 4.
Mecurio has been featured on his own “Comedy Central Presents” half-hour special and has made numerous TV appearances including Late Night with Conan O’Brien,The Late, Late Show with Craig Kilborn, CNN, MSNBC, and many others. For his work as a writer on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, Paul won both an Emmy Award and a Peabody Award (the Pulitzer prize for broadcast journalism). When he’s not on the road, Paul frequently opens for live tapings of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Who Wants to Be A Millionaire? Paul can also be heard on the nationally syndicated Bob & Tom Radio Show. As the “Image Makeover Guy” on Bob & Tom, Paul doles out advice on how public figures can improve their images. Paul’s “Consumer Man” pieces about life as a frequently aggravated consumer have been featured on Bob & Tom and in The New York Times Magazine.
You probably know I do an interview with local Chefs called 10 ?’s. Paul wanted to know if I could interview him to help get the word out that he’d be here, so I sent him my 1o ?’s. Here ‘s what he shot me back in 2 minutes. And that’s a record for quickest answers!
What is your favorite ingredient to cook with?
OXYCODONE–IT TRANSPORTS THE FOOD … AND YOU!
What ingredient do you dread?
URANIUM, VERY DIFFICULT TO WORK WITH AS A REDUCTION SAUCE
What’s your favorite dish to make?
CHEF BOYARDEE RAVIOLI … NOW IF I CAN JUST FIND SOMEONE TO OPEN THE CAN FOR ME, IT WOULD BE PERFECT
What’s your favorite pig out food?
PIZZA, ICE CREAM AND CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES, ALL AT ONCE … I;M A BUSY MAN
What restaurant, other than your own do you like to dine at in the Miami Valley?
THERE’S S A GREAT DUMPSTER AT FIFTH STREET & WAYNE AVE
What’s your best advice for home chefs?
FLAME RETARDANT JOCK STRAP.
If you could invite any 4 guests to a dinner party who would they be and why?
3 GANG MEMBERS AND DONALD TRUMP, SO I COULD WATCH THEM BEAT UP DONALD TRUMP WHILE I EAT — DINNER AND A SHOW.
Who do you look up to in the industry and why?
THE COLONEL –COME ON ELEVN HERBS AND SPICES? ELEVEN! THE MAN’S A GENIUS
What do you do in the Miami Valley on a day off?
READ THIS BLOG POST AND WEEP.
(though I seem to remember some nights we spent at Diamonds with the Jokers staff…)
Share a kitchen disaster, lucky break or other interesting story:
I WAS COOKING PASTA AND FORGOT TO PUT WATER IN THE POT-THE PASTA WAS A LITTLE UNDERCOOKED.
So go check Paul out this week at Funny Bone, make reservations, shows do sell out and tell ’em Lisa sent you! But remember there’s a 2 item minimum and don’t heckle, you’re never gonna be as funny as the pro’s and Paul is one of the best!
An international event for women artists is coming to Dayton as part of the celebration of Women’s History month.
Support Women Artists Now, or SWAN Day, features and celebrates the talents of female artists. The new event gained a lot of steam in its first four years and has had over 700 Swan Day events in 21 countries. Taking place on the last Saturday of Women’s History Month, it’s already been officially recognized in New York, Boston, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and many more cities. Swan Day has yet to hit the streets of Dayton, but this year will be different.
On March 31st at 3:00 p.m. community members will gather at the Auditorium in the Dayton Metro Library Main Branch to see local female talent showcasing their finest work. Best of all, the program is free!
Co-founder of SWAN Day, Martha Richards, believes that women artists are creating a change in communities around the world. She says the celebration represents what the world would be like if female art and perspectives were fully integrated into everyone’s lives. Richards adds that the long-term goal is inspiring communities to recognize and support women artists as what she calls a basic element of civic planning. SWAN Day has attracted some high-profile attention. Award-winning novelist Isabel Allendale, Grey’s Anatomy actress Sandra Oh, and X-Men movie actress Famke Janssen have all made online video endorsements of the event.
Attending artists will include a wide range of local talents like authors, film-makers, poets, comedians, and more. There will be short films, poetry and novel readings, plays, and still more. For a little taste of what’s to come, I asked a few of the featured artists for their takes on SWAN Day and what they’ll be providing during the celebration.
Documentarian Maggie Price will be showing her film A Pretty Piece of Flesh. For Price, SWAN Day is something she considers not only an exciting opportunity for celebration, but also a chance for women artists to come together and support each other and the work they create. She hopes her film will start a dialogue about the difficult topic of cutting. Believing self-harm is often sensationalized in the media, Price says she wants to present something honest and personal that people can relate to and might help others gain some understanding.
Poet Kristie LeVangie, who will be reading excerpts of her work, says she’s honored to be able to share part of her vision and support her fellow artists. She thinks of SWAN Day as an opportunity to promote positive female endeavors in the arts and for female artists to share their art – no matter the form. LeVangie says that if she can inspire another woman to reach out and interpret her world or just liberate a thought, it makes it all worth it.
Sara Berelsman will be reading the first chapter of her memoir about alcoholism, currently titled The Last Rock Bottom. Like LeVangie, she’s excited for the potential to inspire those who attend. For Berelsman, this event means a chance to celebrate women and creativity. She hopes it will raise awareness of female talent in the area and that this will be the first of many SWAN Days.
Tami Boehmer will be reading from her compilation, From Incurable to Incredible: Cancer Survivors Who Beat the Odds. Boehmer, whose been interviewed by Cincinnati’s FOX 19, says she’s honored to be part of the program and looks forward to meeting fellow participants and experiencing their work. She thinks SWAN Day is a great opportunity and hopes it will help propel the work of female artists in Ohio to a larger audience.
Novelist Mary Curran Hackett will be reading selections from her debut novel, Proof of Heaven. She says she thinks the purpose of the event is to enable people to envision a world that includes every woman’s contribution to art and culture as well as explore what women can offer their communities. Hackett hopes that not only will women and girls leave the celebration feeling empowered and inspired, but also that both genders feel inspired to support and admire women artists.
I don’t think I have to point this out, but there are some common threads here: inspiration, support, opportunity, community, unique contribution, encouragement, and perspective to name a few. These women are also adamant in a strong belief in the large talent pool here in the community. Not only are they eager to share their personal stories, artworks, and time; they’re excited to see what all the other attendees will bring to the event.
Here’s hoping you’ll all join me on the 31st to celebrate SWAN Day and the artistic accomplishments of our local ladies. Many will be selling books and artwork and others will be signing copies – if you’re a fan of anyone scheduled to attend, be sure to bring something for their signatures. Each and every one of the attending artists has a lot to bring to the table, so be sure to check them out. You never know who or what might inspire you.
Dayton And The World Loses A Comedy Icon
Sifting through scattered memories, most of which are second hand recollections that occurred before my time, I find myself overwhelmed by a life lived with a manic exuberance. I found out about comedian Dow Thomas’ passing from a friend and regular customer of Wiley’s Comedy Niteclub who called to inform me of the news. I stayed up until around 2:00am poring over the condolences that poured out from all over the country, cascading down from Dow’s Facebook page and other social media outlets. I looked through pictures that I had of Dow, read through transcripts from interviews I had done with him and reflected on conversations that we had had in the past. While many around me knew Dow longer and were closer friends than he and I were, Dow possessed the ability to make you feel that you were the only one in the room. Even during performances where there were a hundred or more people in the room, he made you feel as if you were within his inner circle, that this was an intimate gathering of friends and not just a group of people watching a performance. Even beyond his unerring talent and exuberant imagination, this was his true gift.
Born in Chillicothe and raised in the Akron/Cleveland area, Dow moved to the Dayton area in 1971 to attend Wright State as a theater major, a fitting field of study for someone who had been familiar with the stage for much of his youth. Even though Dow was not a native ofDayton, he embraced the area with the fervor that a lifelong resident should have.
“I didn’t originally come from Dayton. I just kind of adopted the city in 1971. I moved to the area to go to Wright State and I just stayed.” Dow said during one of our conversations. “I ended up living in downtown Dayton. I used to hang out at the Arcade a lot there. I’m a downtown kind of guy.”
Dow was very active in the drama department while at Wright State, performing in several theater productions, such as Shakespear’s Romeo and Juliet and a pair of Molière’s plays; That Scoundrel Scapin and as Cléante in Tartuffe. In the latter drama, he caught the eye of a fellow student, Rob Haney, which signaled the beginning to a lifelong friendship.
As his hair grew, so did Dow’s creative yearnings. He began playing music around town, playing at venues that are but a mere memory to most Daytonians.
“I started my shows at the Upper Krust on North Main St. for ten dollars a day. I liked being up on North Main because I liked to go to shows and Gilly’s used to be up on North Main and there was also The Tropics and Suttmiller’s, which was fun for me to go see supper club type comedians like Jerry Van Dyke or Pete Barbutti and those kind of guys.”
Even though many venues and stages were opening themselves up to Dow’s music and acting, this was still not enough to contain Dow’s imaginative energies. He started sneaking his oddly skewed humor into his songs and banter with the audience.
“I was actually doing comedy in 1972, but at that time there weren’t any comedy clubs, so I was just doing comedy along with music. I would get hired as a musician/entertainer and just add in the comedy in between songs.” Dow reflected. “I would always put on masks and stuff…I just can’t help myself from clowning around. I’d have the gig and eventually I had bands, but when I clowned around, everyone clowned around with me. What was always part of the show was me being stupid. It was what I said in between songs and me ruining songs, like singing like a dog and getting a ‘bark along’ going.”
In those days, you may have seen Dow tooling around town in his hearse, decked out like a Bohemian undertaker, black clad and sporting his ubiquitous top hat, running from gig to gig. He played with Astrid Socrates for seven years (creatively billed as Astrid & Dow) as well as drummer Doug Buchanan Tim McKenzie on lead guitar during yet another incarnation of his ingenuity. He was a featured act at The Trolley Stop, Clancy’s, the Iron Boar and Bogey’s.
Comics don’t need to spend actual time together to feel like brethren or family. We are constantly accruing that common experience that instantly bonds us all separately and continually. But, few of us are as pure, kind, original, and superbly funny as Uncle Dow. I feel forever indebted to him for making it possible for me to ever start and I know that anyone who knew him feels like they, too are some of the luckiest people alive. Uncle Dow made people laugh, but even more so he made them feel alive and always made them smile. ~Ryan Singer
“I’ll never forget the day Dow Thomas and my path crossed. I was part owner of a night club called Bogey’s onWatervliet Ave. in Dayton when Dow and Jeffro stopped in after buying guitar strings at Ace Music.” Mike Adams reminisced recently. “Things weren’t going very well at the bar and we couldn’t afford a barmaid or a cook so I was working. Dow Thomas ordered two drinks and asked for a menu and ordered a sandwich. Upon serving him he asked who owned the place and I confessed. He asked how things were going and I said not to well. He said he could tell. He asked if I had ever heard of Dow Thomas and I said yes but had never seen him and he told me I was talking to him. He offered to do a show one night a week for free as long as I didn’t interfere with him trying new material. I lost a lot of money owning that bar but memories like this makes the money seem irrelevant.”
Dow also frequently played in a bar onPatterson Road called the Iron Boar and becoming steadfast friends with the owners, Dan and Jodi Lafferty.
“We used to do a Gong Show at the Iron Boar and it was fun because we’d have some guy come up and go, ‘I’m going to do my imitation of a lobster’ and we’d go, ‘Good!’ So he’d put claws on and hop around like a freak…it was just so stupid!” Dow began chuckling to himself on the phone before going on. “I used to do a thing called Punt The Fish and I’d yell out, ‘It’s time to…’ the audience would scream, ‘Punt the Fish!’ I had this rubber fish and audience members would come up and kick this fish and we’d measure it off with toilet paper and the one who kicked it the farthest won. One night I had this woman up on stage and she kicked the fish and it went into the propeller of the ceiling fan and came back and smacked me in the face. Everybody was just laughing and I stood up and screamed, ‘Disqualified!’ It was all just so stupid, but you’ll never be able to have a moment like that ever again.”
In ’91 when I took over Jokers Comedy Café, Dow was running the open mic night. I’d never heard of Dow and looking at this man in a black trench coat and top hat, I have to admit my first impression was not great- he’s gonna be dark and sarcastic and egotistical, I thought. I could not have been more wrong! Dow loved being on stage and his joy radiated through the crowd. He would have an audience pounding their table to Power & Light, and tossing paper plates across the room as he sang Sail Cats. ~Lisa Grigsby
The comedy began usurping the music and Dan Lafferty began booking ventriloquists, jugglers and other oddball acts to fill out the shows.
“I used to have people like Jay Haverstick, who owned Jay’s Seafood, he would come and see my shows. So would Mike Peters. They would be out late at night and they would just say, ‘Hey! Let’s go and see what crazy Dow is doing!’” Dow said during another conversation. He went on, describing another huge change that was bout to occur in his life. “But there wasn’t a comedy club, so I left forL.A.I gave them (the Lafferty’s) a one year’s notice (laughing) and said, ‘In a year, I’m going toL.A.’ and that’s when we turned it into a comedy club.”
Eventually, the Lafferty’s decided to change not only the whole format of the club to comedy, but the name itself. In an unexplainable instance where someone could legitimately name a comedy club Lafferty’s, Dan decided to use his nickname instead, dubbing the newly restructured club Wiley’s.
Dow, true to his word, eventually left forLa-LaLand, seeking his fame and fortune, both of which proved to be elusive in the land of silicone and sunshine. He found that the venues that were available to him were less than conducive to his creative talents. At one point, he found himself doing sets between bouts at a boxing match and, towards his triumphant return toDayton, he was unceremoniously replaced with disco music at a Newport Beachclub. Yet the comedy scene was heating up nationally and Dow was riding the cusp of this chaotic wave. The shows were not the structured tight sets that we witness now in the clubs, but were given to more improvisational melees and surprise guests.
“There were these guys like Rich Purpura, who was a comedy/magician, and Tim Walko, a guitarist, and they were both fromChicago. We’d do a show, just packing the place, but at the end, we’d just get up there and jam and kept the show going and clown around with each other.” Dow said. “By then, we were just trying to make each other laugh, and that’s what the audience liked. It was kind of like. It was kind of like having the Rat Pack or something. It was that kind of feel, where everybody’s in the groove. Back then I could have Emo Philips come in and do twenty minutes and then I’d get a chance to go to the bathroom. Then maybe Judy Tenuta would come in and do twenty to thirty minutes and then I’d get a chance to go to the bathroom. For me, I thought it should go on all night.”
Another person that benefitted from the burgeoning comedy scene was Rob Haney, a newly touring comic and future owner of Wiley’s Comedy Niteclub.
“Rob Haney came up to me one time and said, ‘Can I get up and do some time? I just got back from The Comedy Store.’ He had just done some showcasing there…which surprised me because Rob was a bouncer in a bar I used to work at.” Dow recalled that, “When I first met him, he was a doorman at a place called The Bar inWest Carrollton. It was a rough little joint that ended up being Omar’s for a while. It was an old basement bar and the family that owned it was pretty rugged. I actually had guns pulled on me in that bar. I’ve seen him mace guys and throw guys out…he’s a pretty tough guy. He had like shoulder length hair at the time and pretty well built, so it was a different Rob Haney that came up to me with short hair and asked if he could do like twenty minutes and I said, ‘Sure!’ I let him up at the Trolley Stop and I had a gig there like six nights a week…it was crazy.”
Another iconic staple of the Miami Valley that Dow had a huge role in was with his friend Dr. Creep (Barry Hobart) and Shock Theater. The inception of Shock Theater was supposed to be actually scary, as an accompaniment to the B-rated horror flicks that they screened, but the campy ineptness and irrepressible humor of Dr. Creep and the people that worked on the show quickly made the show a campy carnival for all of those late night viewers.
“I ended up getting on just about every television show in Dayton, but I got with Dr. Creep in the late seventies when it was called Saturday Night Dead because they had him on after Saturday Night Live, so it was kind of a neat spot.” Dow went on to say, “So I wrote The Ballad of Dr. Creep and went on there with my girlfriend at the time, Astrid Socrates and also with a bunch of my friends and we did skits.”
“You know, what’s funny about that whole thing is that they became the number one, locally produced television show while I was writing for them. They would go, ‘Okay, we’re showing Dracula: Prince of Darkness’ and we made up the Bat Photo Studio and all of the prints would come out really dark, and customer’s would comment, ‘Wow! These prints are really dark!’ and I’d go, ‘Well, I am Dracula: Prints of Darkness! Sometimes I accidently cut their heads off!’ and I’d hold up a severed head. It was just stupid stuff like that.” With a tinge of regret, Dow added, “Of course, Joe Smith said, ‘No, you can’t do this and you can’t do that.’ He was an integral part of the studio there, so I got censored quite a bit and got into a little bit of trouble. I remember John Riggi and I getting yelled at because we changed the weather map one time. We got up there and started putting a bunch of tornados around Xenia…they were just little magnetized things back in those days. We were hippies in a studio that had rules.”
Dow played some forty different clubs in the MiamiValley the years that he was here and developed a huge fan base locally as well as in other cities that he performed in. In 1997, he moved to Florida with his wife Kay and they took up residence at some of the local clubs near their new home. Even after his departure, Dow was voted Dayton’s Best Comedian for two year’s running. He would still make frequent sojourns to Ohio, usually performing at Wiley’s one to two times a year, creating comedic chaos with his skewed humor and especially with his song Sailcats, in which he would cajole the audience into throwing paper plates in lieu of flattened kittens as the song implied. The staff would usually find the last paper plate stuck in the rafter shortly before Dow’s next scheduled appearance.
I contacted Dow in February of 2011 to ask if he would perform at my upcoming Dirty Little Secret Sanitarium show in May. He was eager to do the show because of the variety aspect of the event, but was reluctant in some ways, feeling that it would be a conflict of interests with his Wiley’s appearances. Rob Haney assured him that there would be no conflict and he agreed to do the show. That evening became an impromptu reunion of sorts in honor of Dr. Creep as not only had Dow worked closely with him, but so had some of the other performers slated for that evening. Thomas Nealeigh from FreakShow Deluxe had worked with Dr. Creep as had A. Ghastlee Ghoul. Our emcee for the evening was Dr. Creep’s protégé Baron Von Pork Shop and some of the members of Team Void had recorded music for Shock Theater’s DVD’s. Dow had a blast at the show and had garnered yet a few more fans for his cult of comedy.
I contacted him again this past December to see if he wanted to be part of the Dirty Little Secrets Sick Of Santa Show and he readily agreed. We spent the rest of the conversation talking about old horror movies and other trivialities. On the night of the show, December 28th, 2011, his wife Kay showed up at the club saying that Dow was really sick and would be unable to perform. Seeing the look on her face and knowing Dow’s penchant for performing, I knew then that it was ore serious than she was letting on. The next evening, Dow arrived at Wiley’s to do his Thursday night set and we could all tell that something was wrong. The current owner, Rob Haney, and other staff and friends finally convinced Dow he needed to seek medical attention. He was admitted toMiamiValleyHospital and, two days later was released. He performed the New Year’s Eve show as well as the shows the following week.
His last show on January 7th, 2012 was astounding. Offstage, he seemed somewhat fragile, but as soon as he was on stage, that glimmer came into his eyes and the casual smirk shown across his face. He performed Sailcats and wheedled the audience into throwing the paper plates once again, daring any one of them to land one of them on his top hat. It was a picture perfect performance where someone actually landed a paper plate onto his top hat. The show ended with a standing ovation for our Uncle Dow, with audience members shouting out their approval and appreciation for Dow’s show.
After the show, Dow was surrounded by family and friends, well wishers and fans. It was the way of Dow: that feeling that you just needed to be near him and everything would be alright. You would be safely ensconced in his world.
Shortly after returning to Akron, Dow was hospitalized. He died January 18th, 2012. The outpouring of condolences and memories was immediate and Dow’s Facebook page became a makeshift memorial for a legion of stunned fans and friends to share their grief as well as their memories.
I think now of the boarded up Upper Crust, the warped wooden floors of the Trolley Stop, the comfortably worn carpet of the Wiley’s stage and I can hear the clank of glasses against the cascading laughter and see Dow with a mischievous gleam in his eyes as he dons a mask and unleashes a dialogue of absurdity in the voice of Lon Chaney. I can see him on stage doing what he did best: fashioning a world without limits, pushing the envelope until it bent and combining chords to nonsensical songs that bring laughter to all who are compelled to bang their glasses on the table and sing along. I see him smile down from the stage wearing a paper plate atop his felted hat, an improvised halo for our imaginative jester.
Read my previous article from 12/2010 – “Dow-Town Dayton”
Auggie Smith and the Wayward Masses
To the uninitiated, (or “non-believers” as they are commonly called by The Auggites) Auggie Smith is the founder and Grand Pubah for Life of what has come to be known as The First Church of Augiology. While not technically a religion, at least not in the fully tax exempt definition narrowly portrayed in the IRS’s Draconian codes, the movement of Augism is gaining momentum in this country, as well as other, more backwards countries who really don’t know any better. With the recent release of his new DVD and CD, Cult Following, more of the weary and downtrodden will quickly become zealous converts.
Smith was born. This we know to be true. Everything after that is rather suspect and apocryphal. Being a rather shy individual throughout his youth, Auggie attained the rank of presidency of the speech team and cleaned the bathrooms at his school, making his vows of chastity almost unavoidable.
“You can imagine how the girls just flocked to that – president of the speech team!” Auggie says in Duderonomy 4:16. “’Wow, look at that!’ All girls care about at that age is a guy who can conjugate a verb.”
He remained chaste until the age of eighteen, succumbing to the lure of the flesh and Auggie found it to be good. He began his journey into the world, preaching his message for the masses, never gaining the attention he so richly deserved. After many disheartening years, Auggie considered renouncing his calling and wandering the earth like Al Gore, broken and dispirited. As destiny would have it, he met two like minded individuals; Apostle Bob and Saint Tom. They gave Auggie the inspiration and hope to preach his sermons on their quaint morning show. Thus the cult of Auggie was born.
After years of spreading the gospel on XM and Sirius satellite radio, after performing miracles at countless comedy clubs throughout the nation by turning dollars into wine and even after he died one night on stage in Butztown, Pennsylvania, only to rise three days later in a defiled motel room, hung over, Auggie is ready to be your personal pathfinder. He has sacrificed his life to be your personal sherpa, guiding you through the pitfalls and the pain, making you forget, at least for an hour or so, that the world is a festering cesspool of rampant self-interest.
This messianic messenger of mirth is bringing his traveling revival show to a stage somewhere near you, to spread the one true gospel. What should one expect when entering Auggie’s church? The faithful will be blessed with a bellicose dose of reality, delivered in a breathless, rapid-fire rant, shining a stark light on the futile efforts of man. From the current political scene to Barbie being raw dogged by G.I. Joe as he has a ‘Nam flashback, nothing is sacred in this sanctuary. The pervasive daily fears we all surrender to will be lifted to reveal the true evildoers behind senior citizen NASCAR drivers, voracious vending machines and drunken pink bunnies.
“Really brother, wouldn’t it just be easier to stay home and not have to interact with any live people?” Aug asks. “I SAY NO! The fear ends now. The only way to win is to not be afraid, or to paraphrase a Stallone classic, ‘fear is the disease…Aug is the cure!'”
Why should you be a follower of Auggie Smith? Why should you become part of the Cult Following? Humbly witness all that Auggie has sacrificed for us: his wasted teenage years scrubbing bathroom stalls while we were partying and getting laid. His ongoing pursuit to ingest every street corner pharmaceutical product, keeping them out of our reach so that we won’t cause harm unto ourselves as well as his ever vigilante watch over all the bars and pubs across this great land of ours, safeguarding them until they are safely closed. These things he does for us…selflessly! He truly cares about our well being and tries to convey this clearly during his sermons. He forces you to see the inequities in the lives we witness as well as the ones we live. His inescapable diatribes hammer home the absurdities we all see in everyday life, yet are afraid to comment on. He speaks while we are silent. Well, to tell the truth, he speaks while we’re talking as well, but nobody’s perfect.
“Your bunny may be your relationship or your job, but at one time, you tried to give your bunny a bear hug and things got out of hand.”
How can one argue with this incontrovertible truth? How?
Watch the DVD. Listen to the CD. Catch him on The Bob and Tom Show, or better yet, witness the man in person when he comes to town. If you’re not completely satisfied…well, you’ll still be out the money for the DVD, CD and the tickets, but hey, doesn’t it just make you feel warm inside knowing you helped a potentially sober comedian attain a higher level of consciousness via many, many Jägerbombs?
Services for the Church of Aug will be held at Wiley’s Comedy Niteclub on Thursday August 25th at 8:00pm (for a $5 tithe), Friday August 26th at 9:00pm (with a mandatory $10 donation). Saturday August 20th brings us to the conclusion of Auggie’s missionary work here in Dayton with a full blown comedy revival, featuring the comedy sermonizing of Deacon Tom Griswold from the Church of Latter Day Bob and Toms. Services for this revival will begin at 8:00pm with a secondary service held 10:30pm for all of those incorrigible heathens. For these special Saturday Night Sermons, a collection of $20 is required. To make reservations, call (937) 224-JOKE. For more information, go to the Wiley’s website at http://www.wileyscomedyclub.com/ or add them as a friend on Facebook at Wiley’s Comedy Niteclub.
Dave Dugan: Corporate Comic, Stand-Up Comedian And Voice Over Talent
When you see Dave Dugan perform, you may be reminded of some of those well meaning television dads who mete out their sage wisdom in a fumblingly laconic manner, usually with horrific results. His stand up comedy hinges on eloquent misdirection and an ironic demeanor that is somewhat incongruous with the situations he finds himself in. Having done hundreds upon hundreds of voice over gigs, from Midas Mufflers to Microsoft, it’s a good bet that you have heard of Dave Dugan before and just don’t know it. Having seen him perform several times, I wanted to talk with him in more depth about his voice over talents…
J.T.: Since you do so much voice over work, do you have a ritual to prepare for the particular mood or emotion you need to convey?
Dave: Sure, if they want a manly, gritty read, I chop some kindlin’ and gargle some Jack Daniels. If they want me to be all sensitive, I crank up the Tori Amos and shave with a Daisy Razor.
J.T.: Do you ever have to perform a series of intentional “outtakes” just to get some of the funny stuff out of your head so you can do a serious take?
Dave: Recently, I voiced fun facts about California for anyone renting a car in the state to hear on their navigation system. The script was of record length …took 8 days to record! Outtakes were plentiful just to keep from going stir crazy.
J.T.: What is probably the most difficult voice over that you have had to so?
Dave: I auditioned for roles in an Italian animated series that was sold to an American (broadcaster) and therefore needing English speaking voices to translate the original lines. I ended up getting the roles of two characters. One voice was a very screechy, evil bird character and for the audition I went way out of my voice range. Then when it came time to do the actual read for the show, the character had tons of lines. I strained myself big time. Pretty sure I may have collapsed a lung…
J.T.: With your comedy, your approach is so deadpan…do some audiences have difficulty in picking up on the subtleties of your act?
Dave: Sometimes a few audience members just don’t get it… and they are always asked to leave. No, not really…I’m just kidding. I usually try and play off their not following me with a series of random audience involvement comments. After doing standup comedy this long, I know I may have to make adjustments from time to time to please all audiences.
J.T.: What is your ultimate Spinal Tap moment?
Dave: A booker once scheduled me to headline ‘ a club’ in Napa Valley, California. I had visions of smart, jaded audiences sipping fine wine and appreciating my most obscure comments. Turned out to be a biker bar. Before the show was over a biker chick came up on stage and tried to wrestle me to the ground.
To save face, I made cracks about the absurdity of it all, which only seemed to make her angrier. Fortunately, her 300 pound boyfriend found that part of the show amusing and I was allowed to settle up and leave without being maimed or beheaded.
You can check out Dave Dugan live at Wiley’s Comedy Niteclub at 101 Pine St. on Thursday June 9th at 8:00pm, Friday June 10th at 9:00pm and June 11th at 8:00pm and 10:30pm. Tickets range from $5 to $12, but for our DaytonMostMetro.com readers, you can mention you read this article when you make your reservations and receive a two for one admission price.