Fresh comic perspective

New experiences: Fatherhood offers humorous material

February 25, 2011 

What happens to a comedian when he has a baby?

He discovers a world of new material.

“Before you have a kid, you sort of think, ‘Why would anybody want to listen to material about kids?’ ” said David Crowe, who’ll perform Saturday in Olympia. “But people love hearing about common experiences, and having children is certainly one that most people have gone through. It does give you innumerable new premises to work with.”

Crowe, a past winner of both the Seattle and San Francisco International Comedy Competitions, has found his material changing since the birth of his daughter, Thandi, now 1.

“It used to be I wanted the approval of other comedians,” he said. “For the most part, we comedians are kind of a derelict group of misfits, really, so why do I want their approval?”

At a show last summer in a national park in North Dakota, Crowe relished the challenge of getting approval from a much different group. “It was really rewarding to have 12-year-old boys and their parents coming up and both of those groups enjoying the show equally but in different ways.”

There’s a different point of view in his material, too.

“It’s silly that college football coaches refer to their players as kids,” Crowe said. “ ‘Our kids did a great job today.’ A lot of them are 24 years old and weigh 300 pounds. We don’t need to lump them in with third-graders. My overriding theory is when you graduate from high school, you’re an adult,” he added. “If you drop out of high school, you’ve just fast-tracked yourself to adulthood. Already, I sound more fatherly, don’t I?”

If his priorities have changed, Crowe admits maybe he was never really all that edgy – a conclusion he reached after watching his Showtime special, “Crooked Finger.”

“I was flipping around the cable channels and came across myself on TV, which is something that doesn’t happen every day,” he said. “Within the context of what’s on television, hip and dark and dirty were not the things that came through.

“I might think I’m saying something that’s kind of hip, but it’s hip within the confines of a John Cleese hip.”

His parents are English, and that’s influenced his comic style.

“With the English, there’s an expectation of dignity and decorum, and the comedy occurs when somebody is falling off their pedestal but struggling to stay on,” he sad. “With American comedy, there’s no expectation of dignity.”

Indeed, Crowe’s humor needs no translation across the pond; his 2005 appearances at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival earned critical raves for “a nerdy charisma that is absolutely captivating” (Doug Johnstone in the Metro) and “the surefooted assurance of a comedy Nureyev” (Colin Somerville in the Edinburgh Herald).

His topics range from little observations such as the one about coaches, to the vastness of international politics. He’s working on a one-man show about oil.

“It’s called ‘Ooze,’ ” he said. “When you think about global events over the last 150 years, almost all of them have to do with oil, but oftentimes that link is not made. I thought it would be fun to put together a funny show using the tools of stand-up comedy to deliver this information.”

If oil doesn’t sound all that funny, consider this comedic rant from his website:

“I keep hearing that we’re addicted to petroleum. ... What are we supposed to do about it? There’s no Gasaholics Anonymous meeting I’ve ever heard of – a big house with a bunch of SUVs parked out front. Everybody standing up, ‘Hi, I’m an American, and I’m a gasaholic.’ ”

Even his parenting jokes have an international flavor. Thandi (pronounced “tundee”) means “beloved” in the Xhosa language of South Africa, where her mother grew up.

On a recent visit there, a black South African fellow they met could not stop laughing at the fact that a little white girl had a black name, Crowe said, changing his voice as he launched into the story.

“He kept making up these little scenarios. ‘Little white Thandi from America — ha-ha — she will apply for a job and she will walk in and they will be expecting a black girl, but no! It’s little white Thandi from America.’ ”

David Crowe

What: Comedian David Crowe of Seattle has a special on Showtime and has won the Seattle and San Francisco International Comedy Competitions.

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: Buzz’s Tavern, 5018 Mud Bay Road N.W., Olympia

Tickets: $10, but the show is sold out.

Information: www.baurice.com or www. davidcrowe.com

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