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Dwayne Kennedy Talks About His Career and the Chicago Comedy Scene


Dwayne Kennedy and Zach Freeman at Zanies in Chicago

Dwayne Kennedy is a Chicago comedy legend and, according to Hari Kondabolu, "the godfather of the current Chicago comedy scene." I sat down to talk with him on Sunday night for the Chicago Tribune before the first of seven shows he's performing at Zanies this week (he has two shows tomorrow - Friday, 8/4). Check out the article for a little history and a few clips from his set Sunday night.



A few snippets from the interview that didn't make the article:

On his conversational style:
"I try to do that because I’m not really like a - some people do hard jokes like one-liners - I’m not really that. I like that but I don’t really do that. I might have a couple one-liners in there but I like to make it appear as if it’s a conversation. I think another reason for that for me is I think it just warms people up to you and it makes them less scrutinizing. Almost if it doesn’t seem like an act then they might just open up to you and they’ll allow you to do things, whereas if you’re presenting it as an act then they’re going to judge it as so."

On avoiding a preachy approach to comedy
"Some people - It’s just human nature sometimes, depending on the nature of your act - if you are doing social, political commentary and people like it, sometimes you get caught up in your own importance. And you like it. And then you get out there and now you’re just making statements. But if you cultivate an audience that just starts to go with you on everything you do sometimes you can lose perspective: “Ladies and gentleman, the government.” “WHOOOO the government! That brother’s crazy!” So, you have to be mindful of that as well. At least I do. Because I want to be funny. I just want to be funny."

On workshopping material:
"I don’t really do the open mics like I used to because I’d rather try things in front of civilians. Because that’s who you have to ultimately do it in front of anyway and sometimes when you do new material in front of comedians you can get… it can be… an inaccurate barometer one way or the other. Because sometimes comedians laugh at things or get things that the average civilian doesn’t or they hate things that most civilians might love. So why not just do it in front of people that ultimately are gonna pay to see you do it anyway?"

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