Chris Cope left Gainesville, Fla., for Los Angeles, just like his hero, the late Tom Petty.
“The big difference is that Tom Petty left Gainesville a star and I’m not a star,” Cope said by phone from his L.A. home. “The other thing is (that) Los Angeles is a lot different than when Tom Petty arrived.” The iconic singer/songwriter arrived in the early ’70s. Cope, a comedian, arrived just five years ago.
The common denominator is that Petty told stories via his sonic narratives and Cope, who enjoys getting personal, spins yarns onstage.
“I have a girlfriend, who is half-Guatemalan and half-Romanian,” Cope said. “I’m half Southern and half fat.”
A rimshot should follow many of Cope’s statements. The winner of the 2015 Big Sky Comedy Festival competition, he is a cerebral comic who just might be a redneck. That combination prompted the title of one of his CDs, “White Trash Supercomputer.”
“When I was in college I was an oddball since I got up early,” Cope said. “One morning I was blasting classical music with a T-shirt and boxers on and my roommate called me a white trash supercomputer. I filed that (phrase) away and was wise enough to use it when I became a comedian.”
Cope, 35, initially studied theater.
“But I didn’t get along with the acting students,” he said. “I felt like an outsider. I switched to history and then to sociology.”
He abandoned his liberal arts education for a career in the arts.
“I wasn’t going to go into a conventional career,” he said. “I’m all about comedy. I don’t like to push my opinions on people. I just talk about my life. I talk about what I’ve experienced.”
Cope has some acting credits. He appeared in an episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” that was directed by Denzel Washington.
“Denzel wasn’t just the nicest guy you would ever want to meet,” Cope said, “he was also the most charismatic man I’ve ever met. Meeting him was probably what it was like meeting John F. Kennedy. Denzel is so cool. You just want to do anything for him, which is a great quality if you’re the director. To be directed by an Oscar-winner is a career highlight.”
“Built for Comfort” is the title of Cope’s forthcoming album. “It’s autobiographical,” he said. “Look at me — I’m not built for hard work. It would be great if I find a really good acting part on a TV show.”
Cope is well aware that he bears a resemblance to “Modern Family” actor Eric Stonestreet.
“People have told me that, and if someone wants me to work on that show, I’m all for it,” he said. “But I’m just happy doing stand-up, television or whatever. All I know is that I’ve come a long way from Gainesville. I came out here and I’m doing what I want, and that’s all I could ever hope for.”
WHAT: Chris Cope
WHERE: Penguins Comedy Club, 208 Second Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday (6/21) and Saturday (6/22)
TICKETS: $10 advance, $12 door; (319) 362-8133 or Penguinscomedyclub.com
ARTIST’S WEBSITE: Chriscopecomedy.com