Getting Audiences to Laugh and Learn

In another time, he might have been a court jester, a man with the gift of making people laugh till it hurts while telling them truth and making them think. Today, he’s a stand-up comic.


“My comedy used to be a lot more personal, making jokes out of the events of my life,” Alonzo Bodden said in an interview with Color Magazine. “When I was on Last Comic Standing, I went through the material so quickly I knew I had to find other things to talk about. That’s when I started studying the events of the day and turning what I found into comedy.”


Having a plethora of potential material waiting for him to spin into comedy gold every day is both a blessing and a curse, Bodden explained. “Things happen so fast today that it can be hard to keep up and stay on top of everything. I was at a club the other night and heard a comedian do a George Bush joke. I just felt bad for him.”


Being topical, Bodden continued, means being willing to talk about things on stage that his audience may not always feel comfortable listening to, even if they do, deep down inside, know it’s funny. He opened a recent show in North Carolina, for example, with jokes about the state’s controversial HB2 Bill, which bans Trans people from using bathrooms that do not match their birth gender. The audience, he said, loved it.


“I don’t attack people or try to make them uncomfortable, but I also don’t want to back down from something I know everybody in the place is talking about or has strong opinions about,” Bodden said. “The best advice I ever got form a fellow comic came from Lewis Black, a man who fears nothing when it comes to comedy. He told me, ‘You can talk about anything. Just make sure it’s funny.’”


Making things funny, Bodden added, is the best job he ever had, even though it wasn’t one he ever imagined he would make a living from. In fact, he was working at McDonnel Douglas in Long Beach when the comedy bug first bit him. “I was in the training department, so I was used to speaking in front of people, but it wasn’t until I took a comedy writing class that I started to take the things in my head and put them down on paper and turn them into an act of any kind. Like a lot of comics, I fell in love with being on the stage the first time I went out there. It just felt right.”


Bodden’s first big comedy break came when he was on the New Faces of Comedy showcase at industry festival, Just For Laughs in Montreal. From there he went on to the NBC TV show, Last Comic Standing where he won Season 3. Since then, he’s never stopped working, whether its on stage in front of an audience, appearing on TV or talking to his virtual fan base through his popular podcast, Who’s Paying Attention.


“I’m having a great time,” Bodden said. “Not everybody gets a chance to find their passion in what they do for a living, and for that I’m very thankful.”