Comedian Kathleen Dunbar is living the dream
She'll perform at the DeJoria Center on Saturday
June 13, 2017
A few weeks ago, comedian Kathleen Dunbar embarked on an Armed Forces Entertainment tour of the Middle East.
"We went to six countries," Dunbar told The Park Record during a phone call from her home in Las Vegas. "It was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. I see these young men and women, who are like babies, in the armed forces and see what they do. In comparison, my job is easy peasy."
Dunbar's job is to make people laugh. And she'll do that when she performs Saturday, June 17, at the DeJoria Center in Kamas. She will be accompanied by fellow comedians Jimmy J.J. Walker and Rick D'Elia.
"Those guys are the greatest," Dunbar said about Walker and D'Elia. "Everyone knows Jimmy, and Rick is so funny."
Dunbar's foray into comedy started after years of laughing to performances by the late George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Rodney Dangerfield and Joan Rivers.
"I always loved watching the greats, but doing comedy always seemed like this ridiculous dream," she said. "I mean, you just don't grow up and become a comedian. Why don't I just grow up to be an astronaut?"
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As a single mother to a son in high school, Dunbar had some free time and took an improv comedy class.
"There is no wrong turn in improv and it teaches you to go with your first thought and run with it," she said.
Dunbar thrived in improv and moved onto dinner theater.
"One of the girls I did dinner theater with suggested I do stand up," she said. "Her husband worked at a bar that had an open-mic night."
Dunbar's first thought was, "That sounds terrifying."
"Here I was wanting to do comedy for years, but then all of a sudden I knew I had to be funny," she said with a laugh. "The next thought I had was, 'What if I'm not funny?'"
Dunbar mustered up the courage to do the open mic and found herself opening at a five-star comedy club three weeks later.
"That was in 1999," she said. "In 2002, I moved to Las Vegas from the Midwest, and within two months, I had my one-woman show. So, I know somebody's looking out for me."
Finding material for her act is simple.
"Society is so ridiculous now," Dunbar said with a laugh. "I just talk about my observation of the craziness around me. We comics are having a field day with all of this stuff, because nobody has manners or grace anymore. Everything is just outrageous and insane."
Dunbar also takes digs at herself.
"I talk about being a single mother and the fact that I'm not 25 anymore and how that's going," she said with another laugh. " I stay out of politics. I don't complain about things and I'm not trying to change people's lives. I just want to make people laugh."
The comedy business has changed over the past few years.
"There used to be four comedy clubs in Las Vegas that closed in the past five years," Dunbar said. "With them went 80 percent of my calendar."
To make ends meet, the comedian has gotten used to scrambling for shows.
"But just when you think you got things down, everybody will change the rules again," she said. "I don't think that's unique to comedy. I think everything is changing."
The comedian tries to reinvent herself in an attempt to keep up with the times.
"I tried to reinvent myself as a 22-year-old Jewish girl, but nobody bought it," she laughed. "So, it's back to square one."
Dunbar said the reward of the hard work it takes to schedule shows is hearing people laugh.
"You do a show for 45 minutes a night, but there are 23 hours and 15 minutes in the rest of the day, and it takes all 23 hours and 15 minutes to find that gig. But it really is the best job in the world."
Dunbar is currently working on a new TV project.
"We start taping in August, and it airs in February, and that's all I can say about it," she said. "But I'm excited about it. And I'm excited to come to Kamas and bring comedy to Utah."
Comedian Kathleen Dunbar will perform at 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 17, at the DeJoria Center, 970 N. S.R. 32. The show, which will also feature Jimmy J.J. Walker and Rick D'Elia, is for ages 21 and older. Tickets start at $30. For information, visit dejoriacenter.com/events.