GRAND RAPIDS — If you haven’t heard of Kevin Bozeman yet, you will. The 14-year comedy vet is close to releasing his third album and was a huge highlight of this year’s Gilda’s LaughFest.
One of the many events throughout these 10 days of comedy festivities was an intimate Q&A with Bozeman on Thursday at the Grand Rapids Public Library, wherein the Chicago-based comic revealed the behind-the-scenes aspects of working as a comic. Bozeman started comedy back in 1999, hitting open mics, eventually moving up to emcee local club shows in Madison, Wisconsin. He said, however, that being a featured act is, “The real cushy job. If they paid more, I think I’d still be doing it.” The feature act, for those of you less schooled comedy nerds, does about 15-20 minutes before the headliner and directly after the emcee does a few minutes to warm up the audience. These days however, Bozeman is headlining, criss-crossing the country. (He flew in to Grand Rapids after doing a gig at the University of Delaware). The dude also teaches a comedy class at DePaul University in Chicago.
The moderator and audience on hand had a lot to ask when it came to his influences, the state of the business today, and the pressure of constantly coming up with new material. When asked if he ever would retire a joke, “Never. I just don’t use it as much as I used to,” he says. “I look at it as if my jokes are a team and once my jokes get old they sit on the bench like that old cagey veteran. But when the crowd fits that particular joke, I’ll say to the joke, ‘Go out there and do what you used to do.’”
In today’s rising crop of famous comedians, especially workhorses like Louis C.K., Bill Burr and Jim Gaffigan who put out new solid hours of comedy every two years (that’s a lot in the comedy world), it’s easy for newbie comedians to feel they should constantly be coming up with new material. But Bozeman isn’t so sure about that. “Your expectations are your own,” he says. “Everyone comes in with different expectations and ultimately it’s the comic’s job to have a conversation with every person in the room even though you’re the only one talking.”
He also spoke about the unfortunate growing trend of comedians having to apologize for jokes. “It’s the world we live in nowadays,” he says. “[The audience] wants to make it about themselves. If they’re offended,they think everyone should be offended.” In the end, Bozeman has this to say to prospective comedy crowds: “You should know what you’re getting into when you come to see a comedian.”
The money raised throughout the 10-day Gilda’s LaughFest goes to support the services of Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids. Gilda’s Club provides support for cancer patients and their families and friends affected.