STAND-UP TUESDAYS: Tommy Johnagin

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Stand-Up Tuesdays is a weekly comedy spotlight written by the wonderfully talented Angie Frissore. Covering both known and unknown comics, Stand-up Tuesdays is your new source for all things funny.

This week, Angie puts a spotlight on Tommy Johnagin’s comedy career. If you or your comedy troupe would like to be featured on Stand-Up Tuesdays, please email utgjames@gmail.com.

This week in Stand-Up Tuesdays, we take a look at the brand new release from comedian Tommy Johnagin, aptly named Stand-Up Comedy 3, which was released today via Rooftop Comedy. Recorded at Comedy Works in Denver, Stand-Up Comedy 3 offers an up-close and personal view of Johnagin’s life as an imperfect man and devoted father. Having really enjoyed Johnagin’s previous releases, let’s just say I was eager to give his new stuff a good listen.

“I recorded it in Denver at the Comedy Works downtown,” Johnagin recently told UTG. “I was headlining the weekend; I was actually headlining Thursday through Sunday, and actually Dave Chappelle headlined Thursday and Friday and kind of took two days for me. So I only recorded Saturday, and I had to get it. I didn’t want to do any version of editing shows together; I just wanted to have one show so I thought let’s do it. And then luckily the second show on Saturday, I walked offstage and I was like, ‘Let’s just do it. I don’t even want to hear it. Just do it.'”

And in one fell swoop, he certainly did. Stand-Up Comedy 3 more than maintains the momentum Johnagin’s built around himself over the past few years, easily proving why the comedian finished in second place on NBC’s Last Comic Standing. With a laid back, conversational delivery style to him, Johnagin connects instantly with his audience by sharing his frustrations over having to (attempt to) explain iTunes to his technologically-challenged mother.

“At one point she said, ‘Is there internet on iTunes?'” Johnagin quips. “I’m going to hang up now, I’ll call you on your birthday.”

Johnagin dances beautifully between endearing self-deprecation and exploration, as he shares his experience in allowing gay men to flirt with him and being able to find other men attractive (even when his girlfriend doesn’t). I’m always drawn to comedians who mine their own lives for material rather than relying on societal observations or topical humor, and Johnagin paints himself as an hilariously well-intentioned guy who sometimes misses the mark.  But he sure does try.

Perhaps it’s Johnagin’s never-ceasing tour schedule that nurtures the personal side of his comedy. A true road comic, Johnagin spends most of his year on the road perfecting his craft.

“I treat the road like work still; I try to work during the day. On the road I want to write and go to a gym every day,” Johnagin explains. “Some days you do both, and some days you’re like ‘I’m not good to be able to get to the second of two things.’ You have the whole day and you’re like ‘I can only do one,’ so it seems like a lot of downtime, but oddly enough, whether it’s doing press for the shows locally, or sleeping in or just seeing a movie, I’m not able to do as much as I thought I should be able to do.

It’s a self motivating profession. It’s incredibly easy to just go, ‘Well, I’m in city X, I’m going to experience life to the fullest and act like I am on vacation.’ I never got that because, like I said, from an early early age I was on the road every week. I realized if I treat the road like a vacation, I’m going to be on vacation 50 weeks a year, and that’s no way to do it. There are some people that come up in New York or LA or Chicago, the cities were they are just doing city spots, and then they get a road gig, and it seems like a vacation because they’re used to being in the city. But for me I’m kind of the opposite. I live in LA now but to me when I’m home I see my girlfriend and my baby, we hang out, we go to dinner like a family. I’m not out there doing like three or four spots a night trying to find stage time when I’m in LA. When I’m in LA, I kind of lay back a little bit.”

Aside from being utterly likable and the kind of guy you’d want to have a beer with, Johnagin is exceptionally creative in his material, crafting metaphors that most would never think of. By the time you’re done listening to Stand-Up Comedy 3, you’ll never look at smoking on the patio the same ever again.

I’ve been a Tommy Johnagin fan for quite some time, and his latest effort merely serves to cement that. Stand-Up Comedy 3 is a delightfully refreshing listen, and an album that should be in regular rotation in your collection. Buy your copy today and look for Johnagin when he comes to your city!

Grade: A

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