Darren Carter’s theatrical stand-up style is reminiscent of the late, underheralded comic Patrice O’Neal. The subtle gestures the massive O’Neal made while discussing panini sandwiches were hilarious.
It’s similar when the animated Carter riffs about being a husband or parenting his 12-year-old son.
“People can relate to what I talk about regarding my boy,” Carter said by phone from his Los Angeles home. “I think what I’m talking about might be unique, but people with kids can connect. I’ll talk about how my son has perfect pitch and when a garbage truck is backing up and you hear that beeping sound, he’ll say, ‘Dad, that’s an F-sharp.’”
When Carter, 48, performs Friday (2/28) and Saturday (2/29) at Penguins Comedy Club in Cedar Rapids, expect the veteran humorist to joke about weight loss and pop culture.
“It’s not foreign concepts that I’ll be talking about,” he said. “It’s stuff we all deal with or look at day to day. I can’t help but talk about the shape I’m in. Thank God there are clothes. I can hide underneath clothes. I like lots of layers.”
Carter, who has been delivering stand-up for more than 20 years, avoids obscenity.
“I made a conscious decision to go that route,” Carter said. “I want to write as clean as possible. I admit that some obscene stuff makes me laugh, but I like to keep it clean. I go back to a simpler time when obscenity wasn’t as common as it is today. Obscenities have gotten out of hand in comedy — and in general.”
Carter, who has recorded four comedy albums, is kinder than many of his peers. When he jokes about his family, he never demonizes his wife, Jeannie, in the way Louis C.K. used to bash his now ex-wife. Carter’s wife gives him feedback that helps with his material.
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
“My wife is cool with what I do, but I’ll test it with her to make sure it’s funny,” he said. “Our relationship is like baseball. It’s like the relationship between a pitcher and a catcher. In baseball terms, we’re a battery. We’re a team. She’ll say something that I would have never have come up with. Like the other day, I told her that I woke up with something funny and I said that I wrote a joke in my sleep and she said, ‘I wish you would write a joke when you’re awake.’”
Like Carter, his wife came of age in central California.
“I grew up in Fresno, which is like the Midwest in California,” Carter said. “It was more like I grew up in Iowa than Los Angeles. My wife grew up out there on a farm. My wife is Armenian. I call her my little Farmenian. She and I grew up during the ’80s, which is so different than how my son grew up. I like to talk about what it was like before there was the internet and we played out on the street until the lights came on.”
But Carter does embrace technology.
“I love Instagram and YouTube,” he said. “It’s like having a TV station in my pocket. It helps advance my career.”
One of his highlights was appearing in the 2005 film “Be Cool,” starring John Travolta.
“John is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet,” he said. “He made everybody feel welcome on the set. I’ve met some big comics and actors, and some of them have this arrogance to them. That was never the way John was. Talk about a guy that conducts himself the right way.”
Carter, who grew up an ardent fan of George Carlin and Eddie Murphy, would love to work on more films, but he’s also content to deliver stand-up.
“It’s the greatest job in the world,” he said. “I get paid to talk about what’s on my mind. What can be better than that?”
• What: Darren Carter
• Where: Penguins Comedy Club, 208 Second Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids
• When: 8 p.m. Friday (2/28) and Saturday (2/29)
• Tickets: $15 advance, $18 door; Penguinscomedyclub.com
• Artist’s website: Darrencarter.com