Hoopla

Heywood Banks returns to Penguins in Cedar Rapids for 2 shows

Comedy singer/songwriter Heywood Banks is returning to Cedar Rapids, a city he loves, for shows Friday (2/14) and Saturd
Comedy singer/songwriter Heywood Banks is returning to Cedar Rapids, a city he loves, for shows Friday (2/14) and Saturday (2/15) at Penguins Comedy Club. (Heywood Banks)

Heywood Banks was a little nervous about returning to Penguins Comedy Club in Cedar Rapids this weekend, because of a misunderstanding.

“I thought the coronavirus was the caucusvirus,” he cracked.

The veteran comic doesn’t want to catch anything. When Banks was reminded that this year’s Iowa caucuses are over, he was relieved.

“I guess that rodeo has been there and done its damage. It sucked all of the air out of that state. I have some songs that will take your mind off of politics,” he said.

The quirky Banks, 69, who crafts amusing tunes, has a surprising number that he’ll play on Valentine’s night.

“I have a new one I just wrote that’s a Christmas song,” he said while calling from his Howell, Mich., home. “Walmart probably has its Christmas stuff out already anyway. It’s a song about Jesus and Mary coming into Bethlehem with their dark hair and eyes and they have a baby that looks like he’s from Scandinavia. I guess that’s why they call it a miracle.”

One thing is certain when the sly songsmith returns to Cedar Rapids for shows Friday and Saturday, anything goes.

“I have to play ‘Interstate 80 Iowa,’” he said. “It completely captures Iowa.”

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“Mississippi River, Davenport/Corn, corn, corn, Corn, corn, corn/What’s that smell/Corn, corn, corn/Iowa City/Corn, corn, corn.”

“When I come back to Penguins, people love that song,” Banks said. “They also love ‘Toast,’ which is always a blast to play.”

“All around the country and coast to coast/People always say what do you like most?/I don’t wanna brag, I don’t wanna boast?/I always tell ’em I like toast.”

Banks is all about food and the enjoyment of simple pleasures.

“People can relate to much of what I write about,” he said. “I love to write songs. I’ve been writing songs since I was a kid. It’s just something that I’ve naturally been able to do.”

There’s not many comedy singer/songwriters, but quite a few folkies. Why didn’t Banks just become an Americana recording artist?

“I wanted to become a handsome, romantic folk singer but it didn’t work out that way,” he said. “What I come up with is funny and it’s about playing to your strengths. The other part is being pragmatic. Thirty years ago, a folk singer made $150 for a gig. Today a folk singer makes $150 for a gig. How can it be that it hasn’t changed? It’s ridiculous, but that’s the way it is. Fortunately, I do a bit better playing comedic songs. I have plenty to draw from.”

Banks has written more than 250 songs.

“When I play these set of dates, I’ll look at 40 of those and decide what I’ll play when I get to the venue,” he said. “I just go up there and have fun.”

The biggest laughs in his shows come when he’s living in the moment.

“I have some fun right then and there,” he said. “The cool thing is that every show is different. Every audience is different. There will be times I just say what I think, but a lot of the stuff I say in between songs is prepared. The trick is to make it sound conversational. But I’ll say something funnier or what often happens is that someone in the audience says something that’s really funny and I just say ‘thank you’ to that person.

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“I love going back to Cedar Rapids because the one end of town smells like cereal because of Quaker Oats and the other end of town smells like a landfill. I guess that’s keeping a balance, because cereal sure smells good.”

Get Out!

• What: Heywood Banks

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

• When: 8 p.m. Friday (2/14) and Saturday (2/15)

• Tickets: $23 advance, $25 show day; Penguinscomedyclub.com

• Artist’s website: Heywoodbanks.com

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