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Laughs on the lanes

Charlie OwenVail, CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily
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A bowling alley is probably the last place you would expect to see a comedian perform.How are you supposed to hear them over all those crashing pins anyway?Comedy Night returns to the Back Bowl in Eagle this Thursday night and so far the noise of the game hasnt been enough to keep comedians or the crowds away.It was just really well received, people were really happy and the quality of entertainment has been really high, said Meredith Richards, event and marketing manager for The Back Bowl.Tonights comedy line-up will feature self-proclaimed dark comic Bengt Washburn and former Colorado resident Jeff Wozer.Wozer, whose act focuses mostly on the great outdoors and his life as a ski bum, will be opening for Washburn.Being a Mormon and Utah native, Washburn has had to reconcile his profession with his religion, but he has so far handled the task efficiently.I grew up Mormon so I didnt think I could do it. It wouldnt be compatible with my Mormon faith, Washburn said. And though he said he is a little more jaded and foul-mouthed from years of playing in bars and lounges, he doesnt find it too difficult to stay true to his beliefs.Comedy is in Washburns blood, however, and he said that since he started his career at open-mike nights in Utah clubs, he couldnt imagine doing anything else.I love just looking at the world and trying to share something that I saw that I thought was funny, Washburn said.

This will be Washburns first appearance at the Back Bowl. He said that a bowling alley could be one of the strangest venues he has ever performed at, but welcomes the challenge.I usually dont play bowling alleys, said Washburn, although hes sure it wont be as difficult as the time he played to a mostly deaf crowd using an interpreter to relate the jokes to the audience.Washburn describes the bulk of his act as observational humor, pulling some of his material from todays headlines and some from his everyday life. He tries not to be too critical in his act, he said, but with the state of the world today its hard not to be a little bitter.Although the job of a comedian is to be funny for a living, that doesnt mean the job is always fun. You get really burned out, just drained, said Washburn, describing the constant life on the road that a comedian must commit to to achieve any level of success. You risk a lot to do it. Youre on a different schedule than the rest of the world which at first you think is kind of liberating, but in the long run its very isolating. Youre always at the party but youre never really invited.Fortunately while actually performing his routine, Washburn said its like hes not even working at all. And hes still trying to make his mark on the comedy circuit without becoming just another manufactured product. Im never going to have that broad of an appeal, Washburn said. He does remain hopeful that his identity and talent catches the eye of a bigger part of society eventually. But if there is one point that Washburn wants to get across to comedy fans its that stand-up is supposed to be a live, organic experience between the comic and the audience something that cant be replaced by watching it on television or listening to a CD. Arts & Entertainment writer Charlie Owen can be reached at 748-2939 or cowen@vaildaily.com.


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