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 Asylum.com.
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: