Hoopla

Greg Warren returning to his roots at Penguins

Hailing from St. Louis, Greg Warren did his first standup routine at Penguins Comedy Club in Cedar Rapids 20 years ago.
Hailing from St. Louis, Greg Warren did his first standup routine at Penguins Comedy Club in Cedar Rapids 20 years ago. He’ll return there Friday (1/17) and Saturday (1/18) nights. (Greg Warren)

A comic riffing about farming doesn’t sound very funny until Greg Warren delivers material cultivated from some audience interaction at the Funny Bone in Des Moines.

“I asked these farmers what they farm and they said, ‘Beans,’ and I said, ‘Green beans?’ And they started laughing,” Warren said by phone from his St. Louis home. “They looked at me like I was an idiot. They were farming soybeans. It wasn’t like I guessed that they were farming jelly beans.”

That encounter led to a forthcoming television special that was shot in July.

“Hopefully it’ll be out soon,” he said. “It’s being edited right now. I’m so excited about the project, since I do have a genuine interest in farming. I went out to Ames and I’m fascinated by farming. When you think of farming, you can’t help but think of Iowa. I learned about cover crops, which are made to make the ground more fertile. So if the cantaloupes are terrible, you have an excuse: ‘They’re cover crops, I wasn’t even trying.’”

Warren delivered some farming material when he appeared last April at Penguins Comedy Club in Cedar Rapids. Expect to hear more when he returns there Friday (1/17) and Saturday (1/18),

“I’ll have even more material about farming when I come back to Cedar Rapids,” he said. “I was writing more since the last time I was in (town) and when I shot the special. You don’t have many comics talking about farming. I had as many farmers in the audience as I could when I shot the special (in Edwardsville, Ill.). I could have shot it in New York or Los Angeles, but I thought it was appropriate to shoot it in the Midwest. That’s where I’m from and when I think farming, I think Midwest.”

And since he’s always on the road, he’ll joke about travel, too.

“I was in Alaska last summer, and it was a different experience,” he said. “I went hiking and I had to buy bear spray, and it was $60. It’s not like insect spray. You don’t spray it on yourself. You have to spray it (at the bears). I didn’t run into any bears and I didn’t want to spend $60 for nothing. So somebody was going to get sprayed.”

The rabid St. Louis Cardinals fan is a bachelor, wary of marriage.

A huge fan of Bob Newhart, Warren often will resurrect the art of portraying two people having a conversation. His refreshingly old-school approach works.

“I do what I feel comfortable with, and some people like it,” he said.

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His comedy has worked well enough to take him to the semifinals of “Last Comic Standing” in 2007 and 2015.

“I met a lot of cool people doing ‘Last Comic Standing.’ The second time around, I thought I could win it, but I let (the producers) talk me into doing material I didn’t want to do,” he said. “It didn’t work out. It’s a game show. It helped me with exposure and it’s fine. Who would ever guess I would have become a comedian?”

The former West Point cadet studied journalism at the University of Missouri, where he became an All-American college wrestler, then went corporate working for Procter & Gamble. He tried standup comedy for the first time at Penguins 20 years ago, and among his accolades, has become a favorite on the Bob & Tom Radio Show.

“It took a while, but I finally found my calling,” Warren said. “Most comics start, at the latest, while they are in their 20s, but there’s no retirement age. You just keep going on as long as you can make people laugh.”

GET OUT!

• What: Greg Warren

• Where: Penguins Comedy Club, 208 Second Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids

• When: 8 p.m. Friday (1/17) and Saturday (1/18)

• Tickets: $15 advance, $18 show day; penguinscomedyclub.com

• Artist’s website: gregwarrencomedy.com

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We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

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