Comedian sells jokes on roadside

By | August 13, 2010 at 3:02 pm | 3 comments | Audio/Video, News | Tags: ,

Comedian Don Hepner spent 13 years as a road comic and once performed comedy on network TV’s The Gong Show. More recently though, gigs have been harder to find. So the resourceful comedian found a new way to get paid for comedy, bolster his fan base and get people talking: telling jokes on the side of the road for 50 cents a piece.

“I saw these guys at off-ramps hassling people for change — and they don’t even tell them a joke!” Hepner told

He realized that a panhandler’s permit in Bettendorf, Iowa was easy to come by, and the rest is history. This has led to doing informal sets in grocery stores, fast food joints, restaurants and bars – but the open road remains his bread and butter. He tells a quick joke through car windows when they’re stopped at a red light. He has about 30 seconds to get a laugh and earn his pay.

“Normally, when I’m performing I’ll do longer material,” he says. “I have stories about teaching school and being married four times. But you can’t do that here.”

On a good day of putting in work, Hepner can make up to $20 an hour. Not too shabby for a for a comic in a town with no clubs… Here’s a clip of the man in action:

About the Author

Brendan McLaughlin

Brendan is a comedian and writer based in Brooklyn, NY.

  • Art Hermansen

    I did the same thing 19 years ago for a dollar a pop, except it was during the Rodney King uprising, while LA was on fire, at the corner of little Santa Monica and Constellation avenue in Beverly Hills. I made seven grand in three weeks and got my ass out of LA. You’ll be able to download it on in a couple months. It will be a much better story, I promise.

  • Tyler

    That is awesome, a hustler can’t be stopped.

  • Andrew King

    Haha this is great! They can shut down our comedy club but that won’t stop some of us.

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