Clean and clever comedy – with a little edge
February 9, 2012
As a sports reporter for the Rocky Mountain News, Sam Adams used to cover the stars running out of the tunnel, onto the field. Then, he moved out of the shadow of his byline and stumbled into the limelight himself.
“(Now) I know how those guys I used to cover feel when they run out of the tunnel or come out of that dressing room,” Adams said.
Adams tried his luck at new talent night at Denver’s Comedy Works in 2001. After he stepped off stage he had that “I wanna do it again” feeling of having just rode a roller coaster – but he had to “go to the back of the line.” So, he did comedy part time, and around 2005 got a little more serious, MCing shows for bigger acts, but he never took the idea of being a full-time comedian seriously.
That was, until the Rocky Mountain News folded its pages for good in 2009. That year, he tried his talent at the Great American Comedy Festival in Norfolk, NE, won the amateur division and landed in the pro division when a contestant suddenly dropped out. There, he did better than all except one comedian.
Since then, he’s made a living as a comedian, and though he’s played gigs in Las Vegas and New York, his bread and butter comes from small towns in Wyoming, Kansas and Nebraska. But as Bill Cosby told him during a 90-minute private lesson Cosby invited him to, “Your job is to make people laugh, and if you don’t make them laugh, you get an F,” no matter if you have a room of 30 or 3,000.
Though he’s never set out to be the next Cosby, people say he reminds them of a young Cosby. He agrees he leans more toward Cosby’s style than Chris Rock’s, with his clean storytelling.
“My mother’s always sitting in the front row in my mind, and she hits hard,” Adams said.
His topics go all over the place, ranging from family and music to talking about race “in a totally different way than most people do … I show you how to find your true color.”
“They say clean (comedy) is harder, and that is so true,” said Jodee Champion, who co-headlines with Adams Saturday. “He is incredibly likable on stage. He’s goofy, with dead-on impersonations. He’s a joy to watch.”
At age 52, Adams is a little jealous he didn’t have Champion’s type of funny when he was her age, he said.
“First of all, she’s just a sweetheart – she’s so cute and cuddly – and then she starts being funny,” Adams said. “Put it like this: I’m in my little comedy gym working out because I don’t want her to steal the show.”
Champion started comedy on a fluke; she walked into the last four hours of a multiple-day comedy class and got on stage to do a set, which went well, she said, despite the fact she suffered from stage fright (complete with vomiting) for her first two years.
So why continue?
“I was in a sh*tty marriage and hated my life, so it was a good outlet,” she said. “The more desperate you are in your life, the more radical decisions you make in your life.”
She’s been a comedian for four years, mostly at her home club, Comedy Works. Much of her material stems from being a single mom of a 4-year-old. As she describes her style:
“I’m not a dirty comic, but I’m not a squeaky-clean comic – I’m funny.”