Entertainment

Gabriel Rutledge brings his family-centered jokes to a hometown show

Comedian Gabriel Rutledge performs more than 200 shows a year. The Olympia resident will share the stage with three other comics Saturday at The Washington Center.
Comedian Gabriel Rutledge performs more than 200 shows a year. The Olympia resident will share the stage with three other comics Saturday at The Washington Center. Courtesy

When he started doing comedy 15 years ago, Gabriel Rutledge of Olympia was inspired by the comedians he met on the Seattle scene.

“The first comedy show I ever went to was one I performed at, an open mic,” Rutledge said in a phone interview this week. “The first people who inspired me were Seattle headliners who were not household names but were working comedians. I looked at that as my path.”

It’s a path he’s still traveling. Rutledge won the prestigious Seattle International Comedy Competition in 2004, and he makes periodic TV appearances — including on Fox’s “Laughs” and Nick Jr.’s standup series “NickMom Night Out.”

He doesn’t get a lot of media attention, though Brent Owen of Louisville, Kentucky-based Leo Weekly summed Rutledge up as “a quick-thinking, fast-talking, hard-working badass.”

He’s definitely hard working, racking up more than 200 shows a year on the road, and he still lives in Olympia — “for show-business reasons, you know,” he joked.

I thought I was going to do sort of edgy social commentary. It turns out I’m not that good at it. I tried to do it, and then I told a funny story about my wife, and that worked a lot better.

Olympia comedian Gabriel Rutledge

Rutledge is satisfied with life as a working-stiff standup.

“If you want to go as high as you can possibly go as a standup comedian, at some point you have to move to L.A. or New York,” he said. “I would say my family has suffered enough.

“It’s a pretty nice loophole in adulthood to call yourself a professional comedian,” he added. “If touring and doing the standup comedy on TV is what my career is, I think I’m OK with that.”

His wife, Kristi, and their three kids are a big part of the act.

“I thought I was going to do sort of edgy social commentary,” he said. “It turns out I’m not that good at it. I tried to do it, and then I told a funny story about my wife, and that worked a lot better.”

On his recent DVD, “My Safeword Is Tucson,” Rutledge told stories about both breastfeeding and bowel movements.

He introduced that not-for-the-squeamish material with a bit of perspective.

“There’s a lot of good stuff about having kids,” he said, “but we’re not going to talk about that tonight. Because happiness isn’t funny.” (That phrase is also the title of his 2014 memoir, subtitled “True Stories of a Road Comic.”)

Fortunately, the Rutledges have a sense of humor.

“It’s not easy being married to a comedian,” Rutledge said. “My wife has been awesome. Most of what I say is true, but it’s exaggerated. She has to put up with a lot of that.

“My son is 14 now, and he has a heard a lot of jokes I used to do about him when he was younger,” he said of his oldest, Johnny. “Much to my relief, he thinks they’re pretty funny.

“I’ve heard Louis CK interviewed about what his kids are going to think, and I think his response is, ‘Well, I’ll tell them those jokes bought this house,’ ” he said. “I guess my response will be, ‘Those jokes paid rent on this house that my mother-in-law owns’ — which doesn’t sound quite as good.”

Down to earth as he is, Rutledge was looking forward to being something of a celebrity Saturday night.

“Most of the places I perform, most of the crowd isn’t there to see me specifically,” he said. “They’re just there because they’re fans of comedy.

“For me to have a theater full of people who at least kind of know who I am, it’s a different and great experience, honestly.”

Gabriel Rutledge Comedy Night

What: Gabriel Rutledge of Olympia, who won the Seattle International Comedy Competition in 2004, headlines a hometown show with Seattle comics Andrew Rivers, Corey Michaelis and Rodney Sherwood.

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Where: The Washington Center for the Performing Arts, 512 Washington St. SE, Olympia.

Tickets: $17-$28.

Information: 360-753-8586, washingtoncenter.org, gabrielrutledge.com.

Watch: Rutledge riffs on some not-so-joyful parenting moments — mostly involving bodily functions — in a clip from his DVD “My Safeword Is Tucson” at youtube.com/watch?v=at3pLvY6SUY.

Listen: Rutledge and wife Kristi, a stay-at-home mom, team up on a podcast available at itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-rutledges/id518218906.

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