Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

September 8, 2013

Just for laughs

Live comedy show featuring local comedian coming to Paramount Arts Center

Lee Ward
The Independent

ASHLAND — Everyday life and life in Kentucky are two topics from which Southern-style comedian Vic Clevenger gleams much material.

His entertainment roots stretch back to his days entertaining at school, home and church in the Ashland area. This month, he will headline a comedy show at the Paramount Arts Center, a dream come true for Clevenger.

Anyone who is a performer and who grew up in the area wants to perform at the Paramount. Why is that? What is it about the Paramount?

Well, I can’t really answer for the others, but for me, the Paramount represents the lights of Vegas, the stages of Broadway or the sacred circle of the Grand Ole Opry. I remember as a kid of about 7 or 8 on a school field trip walking into the Paramount and thinking this is the most awesome place I had ever been. As I watched those performers tell the “Jim Thorpe Story” I thought to myself, “I’m going to be on that stage one day.” Before there was a Big Sandy Arena (the Huntington Civic Center when I lived there), there was the Paramount.

I think for the performers of the area, especially those of us who have left home to chase our dreams, it’s a validation of sorts.

Who are the other comedians in the show? Are they local?

Tyler Stewart, Marcus Oglesby and Aaron Matthews all live within a couple hours of Ashland. They will provide a nice mix throughout the show. Tyler and Marcus will be the opening acts while Aaron, as emcee, will tie it all together as he keeps the laughs going between acts. All these guys are classy professionals who just love to make people laugh.

You'll be filming for a DVD that night. Is this going to be your first DVD? Are we going to get a better show from you because you're filming that night?

It will actually be my second DVD. Early in my career, I thought I just had to have one so I took my little camera into the club where I was performing set it up and boom I had a DVD for sale. This time there will be more planning in the recording of it and, honestly, I am a much better comedian. I think the end result will be something I will be proud of and proud to have it out there.

As far as a better show because of it being recorded, I don’t know. I like to think I give my all in every performance. But this one is different. This one will have the added edge of being in the Paramount and being recorded. But when I hit the stage, I am home. I am in my element. The nerves, the excitement and the jitters spill over into an energy that will spell fun for everyone. It’s fun to have that adrenaline flowing.

What kind of show will this be? Will it be R-rated?

There will be a little bit of something for everyone. There will be a great mix I believe everyone will enjoy. It would be closer to PG or PG-13 than R. I will talk and make fun of about everything, but you won’t hear an “F-bomb.” There is a line in comedy and I do my best not to cross it. I may run right up to the edge and teeter there for a bit but I try not to step over.

It seems like seeing a live comedy show was "the thing" in the 1980s and then it kind of fell off in popularity. Is it coming back?

One of the things that made the ‘80s unique was not everyone thought they could be a comic. There seemed to be just a handful of places to view live comedy but, as the popularity grew and we got Comedy Central on TV, clubs began to pop up all over the country.

Now, there seem to me more comics than places to perform. So it’s is still very popular. However, those that make it to the “big show” are those that find their own voice, know who they are and persevere. That’s where you see the popularity of Jeff Foxworthy, Larry the Cable Guy, Daniel Tosh and even WTCR’s Cledus T. Judd. Each is unique in who they are and as a result they are successful.

Too many of the younger comics try to be someone other than who they are and, as a result, they won’t grow. It’s popular to be a comic and it’s popular to see a great comedy show. But one thing to keep in mind as a promoter is that you are competing with other entertainment venues. The audiences have many choices in any given area to find entertainment and you have to convince them that they will not be disappointed when they come to a live comedy show.

As a comedian, I also have to remember this: Right before I step out on stage, I remind myself that those people out there chose to see a live show over a movie or any other form of entertainment. They spent their money to see me and deserve the very best I can give them.

 LEE WARD can be reached at lward@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2661.