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Physical, outdoorsy comedy

KIMBERLY NICOLETTI
summit daily news

Looking for your Valentine’s weekend to get a little physical?

Look no further than comedian Bryan Kellen, along with Jeff Wozer, at the Silverthorne Pavilion Saturday night.

Kellen has always spoken with his body, as he describes it, but when he first started standup, his physical comedy flopped. He began his comedy career a little late – at age 31 – in coffeeshops and bars around the San Francisco area.

“Physical comedy didn’t go over well in coffeeshops and bars because it was too energetic for that atmosphere,” Kellen said. “I got hammered in the beginning.”

But he didn’t give up.

“Even though I was bombing every night, I was just happy I was chasing the dream,” Kellen said.

He said at first it was depressing, but he quickly developed a thick skin and a “try anything” attitude. He did curb his physical comedy a bit, but as soon as he hit the comedy club circuit and started improv with the audience, his natural disposition “accidentally” kicked in again. This time, it was a hit, so he ran with it.

In 2001, San Francisco’s NBC affiliate asked Kellen to perform in its Best of the Bay stand-up show. That led to an appearance on WB’s “The Daily Buzz,” which in turn caught the attention of talent scouts from “Entertainment Tonight,” where he scored a deal as head-writer and star of a new series.

By 2003, The National Comedy Hall of Fame named Kellen America’s Best Up-and-Coming Comedian. Since then, he’s been bringing his rubber-bodied, powerhouse comedy to audiences throughout the country, through top clubs, NBC shows and Comedy Central. He’s also a regular opener for George Lopez, as he tours nationwide.

He considers himself an “ultra-average guy” who brings “blown-up fears and uncomfortable situations to cartoon size on stage.”

“I don’t try to be something I’m not,” Kellen said. “I’m just a goofball on stage, and I’m out to have a good time. I’m not a real smart comic … (there are) no deep messages, so it’s kind of easy and paltible from the start … it’s not a mental workout.”

His comedy tends to attract both singles and couples, since he shares plenty of material related to his days dating and his current married life as a step-dad.

Jeff Wozer definintely has a ski-bum mentality. One of his goals in life: to beat the 9-to-5 system, without bumping chairs.

His ticket to a paying night gig started in the 1990s when Wozer, who was then living in Vail, pitched a local news spoof (based on “Saturday Night Live’s”) to Vail’s local television station. He cut his teeth, so to speak, on “Vail Valley Sunday”, and his success there encouraged him to try stand-up during a talent show at the Cascade Theater in Vail. Once that went well, he dedicated his life to being a funny man.

These days, his comedy leans toward the clean and clever side, hitting the mark when it comes to ski-town culture. He portrays a bit of a David Letterman-esque style but revolves his topics around the outdoors, from skiing and backpacking to city vs. mountain life.

“I prefer the smart laugh,” he said, “over the cheap laugh.”


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