The Eleventh Hour Online - September 14, 2006

Comedy X: Zombie Smut, Circus Poodles and the Secret of Jon Bon Jovi

By Debra McCorkle

Comedians Evan Wecksell, Dave O’Gara and Spanky – one name, like Madonna – are heading to Georgia Southern on September 16th. They will appear onstage at the Russell Ballroom as the Comedy X troupe – billed across campuses of America as 13 Colleges. 24 Comedians. 17 days. 1 Tour.

I don’t have cable anymore, but these days the internet is as crucial to an up-and-coming comedian as an appearance on Comedy Central. Wecksell, O’Gara and Spanky have resumes thick with television appearances – from HBO to VH1 to the Discovery Channel. However, they hang around their computer websites like everyone else. According to Wecksell, “we (comedians) spend too much time on MySpace and YouTube”. In fact, when I wanted to ask O’Gara a few questions for this article, I found him on his MySpace page. He appeared to be “Online now!” every time I checked. It’s a good thing, too, because both comics were eager to share their thoughts about the world of comedy.

Evan is the clean-cut kid in the striped shirt. He performs parody songs about everything from lesbian envy (“Dick Evan Dyke”) to black envy (“just give me the rhythm I lack… I wanna be black”). He states on his website that his influences include Hulk Hogan, Jon Bon Jovi and Melissa Etheridge. I had to ask Evan why he claimed such disparate influences.

Evan explains it this way: “The way Jon Bon Jovi and Hulk Hogan are so energetic and so aware of their audience is what influences me. They appeal to everyone and are the standard in their type of live performing. And Melissa Etheridge is the bomb - emotional, passionate, personal. I do the same thing as her, just funny. I also wrote a song about wanting to be a lesbian - one of my more risque ones, called ‘Dick Evan Dyke’.”

Wecksell began his comedic career after college. He took a post-grad sports marketing class at NYU. He says that “during the final group presentation, I was so funny that not only did we get the best grade in the class, the teacher told me to just get on stage. A month later I started stand-up class at The Comic Strip in NYC. Here I am 4 years later”.

When asked about the demise of comedy clubs across the country, Wecksell admits that the climate has changed regarding standup. “Last Comic Standing re-energized the genre a little, but it's becoming a lost art. Everyone loves the idea of instant fame so they'd rather stay home and watch American Idol or America's Got Talent rather than go to a comedy club. Last spring, someone walked out of one of my shows just to watch ‘The Real World’!”

Dave O’Gara also got into standup via a local comedy club. He explains that “a friend of mine was doing a contest at the comedy club he tended bar at. I went in to watch him, and he was terrible. But even still no one through anything at him and he still managed to get some laughs. I knew right then that I had to get into this. Two weeks later and only my second time on stage I won fifty dollars in that very same contest”.

O’Gara has had his share of odd jobs before becoming a comedian. Dave once “worked for the Phils Brothers circus in PA and NJ. I drove a prop van, helped set up the big top, and moved the little slide the trained poodles went on. No gag, I really worked for these guys. I also had a couple of character building jobs at lots of places that deal in grease, and a troika of soul-crushing telemarketer jobs.”

O’Gara’s MySpace lists his interest in, among other things, Smut and Zombies. I asked him whether he knows of the existence of Zombie Smut. Not missing a beat, Dave answered “as far as zombie smut goes, there is so much bad plastic surgery and good crystal meth in the porn business, I would say about half of all smut is zombie smut. Have you seen (adult actress) Bunny Bleu lately?”

When asked why there was only one woman out of 24 comedians on Comedy X, Dave was quick to answer. “My guess is, and this is only conjecture, is that she's a slut. I mean everyone knows that women aren't funny, but every tour needs a party girl to jiggle things up now and again…actually, I don't know why there isn't much diversity on the tour. I'm sure the woman in question is a very nice and funny lady. I didn't put the tour together so I don't know what marketing ideas went into it.”

Wecksell’s comedic heroes include Dave Attell and Will Ferrell. For O’Gara it’s Bill Hicks and Dave Cross. He believes that “they are the perfect comedians in that everything about their acts, their premises, their take on things even their delivery is/was eye opening and innovative”.

Finally I asked both Evan Wecksell and Dave O’Gara whether the comic world was making them rich. Wecksell claims that “it can be as profitable as you want it to be. You can't make a living unless you work the road, i.e. college and club gigs. There's more upside when you bring your comedic skills to acting on TV, commercials, etc. I'm not after a sitcom, but I put time into my acting and auditioning for TV and commercials.”

O’Gara summed up his career by saying “I am rich with the laughter of drunken rednecks, and that's the best kind of rich there is”.

They’re young, they’re funny, and they’re live on September 16th. I recommend that you turn off the TV, unplug yourself from the computer, and go see Comedy X on Saturday night.

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