Comedy to light up the Egyptian
March 29, 2011
Comedian Roz Browne turned her fear into a career.
"I got interested in doing comedy because of an acting class," Browne told The Park Record during a phone call from Los Angeles, Calif. "The teacher told me to do something that I was scared of doing. The only thing I could think of was doing stand-up comedy."
So, Browne did an open-mic night and liked what she felt.
"I got some laughs, and didn’t look back," she said. "I have been doing it for almost 20 years. That’s strange when you think about it."
Browne enjoys the freedom she has to express herself when she’s in the spotlight.
"I can say things on stage that I wouldn’t say in my normal life in public," she said. "The stage is my second home and there I can be myself, without any restraints."
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Most of Browne’s material comes from her personal life, which is easy to dip into, she said.
"If I run out of ideas, I just call my step-kids over," Browne said with a chuckle. "My husband is also full of material."
Nothing is sacred when it comes to revealing her family’s secrets during a routine.
"I think if you hold back revealing who you are, you’re not connecting with the audience and the audience can see that," she said. "It’s like there’s a wall and you come off as being insincere. The audience wants you to be open and that’s when the connection happens."
Still, all hasn’t been easy in Browne’s career, she said.
"It’s harder to get stage time if you’re a female," explained Browne who produced a live, all-female show called "The Merry Wives of Comedy." "Usually producers only want to put one female on a show per night, which doesn’t happen with the male comics. So there is a double standard in the business."
That’s why Browne feels a responsibility to open doors for other up-and-coming female stand-up comedians, she said.
"I do that by just being on stage," she said. "It’s important for them to see they can be stand up comedians and succeed in this industry. When you see people out there doing it for a living for 20 years, like I have, it tells the others they can do it, too."
However, Browne, whose career highlights include writing and producing another show called "Fried Clams With Bellies," which she performed in Los Angeles and Martha’s Vineyard, has come across a lot of misconceptions about her chosen career.
"Stand-up comedians are misunderstood," she said. "I meet people who find out I’m a comedian and they say, ‘You’re not funny right now,’ and I say, ‘I’m not on stage right now. I don’t go around telling jokes all the time.’"
Opening act Cody Eden, who calls Salt Lake City his home, said he knows how it feels when people tell him he’s not funny.
"When I started doing comedy, I had a lot of people tell me that," he said with a laugh. "I was never the class clown. I was more the kind of guy who was quiet and shy. I thought of myself as the guy who was secretly witty, and could make you laugh without making you realize that I was being funny."
That didn’t mean Eden, who grew up in Midvale, disliked comedy. In fact, Eden loved watching stand-up comedians such as George Carlin, Mitch Hedberg and Bill Cosby.
"It seemed like magic when they would tell a joke," Eden said. "It was something that I thought I could never do myself. I couldn’t understand how these people thought up these jokes because jokes seemed to be something that only existed in a wonderful, magical place."
As Eden got older, comedy became doable.
"I also realized that all comedians are just a bunch of sad, lonely people like me, crying out for attention," he said.
Getting attention as a stand-up comedian in Utah is a trick, Eden said.
"No one ever said they are going to move to Salt Lake to make it big in entertainment," he said. "It’s tough to get exposure, but it’s a great place to start, and I can learn and fail here and no one is going to judge me too harshly for it.
"It’s like anything else, though," he said. "The more you do it, the better you get."
Eden chose to do comedy after attending the University of Utah.
"I went there a couple of years," he said. "While I was there, YouTube was invented and I failed all my classes, so I decided to do comedy."
Although Eden isn’t making his millions, he said the reaction from the audience is why he loves performing.
"When a joke really hits and the whole audience lights up, it’s a pretty visceral thing," he said. "It’s like dropping a match into a pool of gasoline. It’s that kind of adrenaline rush."
"Stand Up Like an Egyptian Stand-up Comedy," featuring Roz Browne and Cody Eden, will be emceed by Kathleen McCann, at the Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main Street, April 1 and 2, at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $18-$25 and available at http://www.parkcityshows.com or by calling (435) 649-9371. The show is for mature audiences.