Hoopla

Keifer Thompson of country duo Thompson Square brings comedy routine to Penguins in Cedar Rapids

Keifer Thompson, half of the country duo Thompson Square, will be crossing into some funny business when he brings his c
Keifer Thompson, half of the country duo Thompson Square, will be crossing into some funny business when he brings his comedy songs to Penguins Comedy Club in Cedar Rapids. He’ll open for Donnie Baker on Friday night (1/10) and headline on Saturday night (1/11). (Keifer Thompson)

The entertainment world has become as specialized as it is corporate.

The late comic Greg Giraldo lost it a decade ago when he was working on new material in a New York club and got bounced by guitar virtuoso John Mayer.

“I was ticked off,” Giraldo said, adding that he wanted to say to Mayer, “How would you like it if I jumped onstage during one of your shows at Madison Square Garden and said, ‘Excuse me, I’m working on this song.’”

“I get it,” singer/songwriter Keifer Thompson said by phone from Fargo, N.D. “Actors want to be musicians and musicians want to be actors — and most of those who try crossing over suck.”

But a few generations ago, actors could sing, dance and tell jokes.

“It’s so true,” Thompson said. “Entertainers could do different things. I think some people can be good at more than one art form.”

Thompson, 46, who is half of the successful country duo Thompson Square, happens to be versatile. The witty performer crafts catchy tunes with his wife, Shawna Thompson, in Thompson Square, which formed in 2002.

The two have 10 songs that landed on the Hot Country Songs charts. “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not” and “If I Didn’t Have You” went No. 1 and the pair won the 2013 Academy of Country Music Award for Vocal Duo of the Year.

“I can’t express how thankful I am about how well Shawna and I have done with Thompson Square,” Thompson said. “But there is more to me than what I do in Thompson Square.”

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Thompson happens to be amusing. His banter during Thompson Square shows over the years often is funny. Just over a year ago, Thompson decided to give comedy a shot.

“It’s a new journey,” he said. “I’m embarking on something I wanted to do for as long as I remember. I’ve always been enamored of comedians.”

While growing up in Miami, Okla., he would consume comedy albums by Eddie Murphy and Andrew Dice Clay.

“What was so amazing about those guys was that they were fearless,” Thompson said. “They would take what they know and make it funny.”

Thompson, who will perform his comedic songs Friday and Saturday at Penguins Comedy Club in Cedar Rapids, has a similar approach. “There Ain’t Branches on my Family Tree” pokes fun at his wife’s kin.

“I went to a family reunion, and there were some odd looking characters,” he said. “But my wife comes from Alabama and I can’t help but do some ancestry jokes.”

Last Christmas, he was inspired to write a parody of “Let It Snow” that’s dubbed “I Wished They’d Go.”

“When you host Christmas with a bunch of family it looks good on paper,” he said. “But it hits a point in which some people don’t know when to leave. That gave me an idea.”

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While writing songs with his dog next to the air conditioner, Thompson was moved to create a humorous take from his hound’s eyes.

“I was watching his hair being blown back like he was Fabio,” Thompson said. “I decided to write ‘Doggy Style’ through his vantage point. It’s been so much fun finding that I can make people laugh.”

His comedy path is reminiscent of the Amazon Prime series “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” in which the protagonist discovers that she has a hidden talent and tries her hand at stand-up.

“Shawna and I love that show,” Thompson said. “Shawna said: ‘That’s your life. This is what you’re going through right now.’ I can’t wait for more episodes of ‘Mrs. Maisel.’”

But Thompson is real, and he also has a flourishing career with Thompson Square and a 3-year-old son.

“It’s about balance, confidence and tenacity,” he said. “It took 13 years before Thompson Square had a hit. I’m more than willing to do what I have to do to pay my dues as a comedian. I’m going to work hard to make it in comedy.”

Get out!

What: Keifer Thompson

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

Friday: 7 and 9:30 p.m., opening for Donnie Baker; $23 advance, $26 door

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Saturday: 8 p.m., headlining, with Tim Sullivan opening; $13 advance, $15 door

Tickets: Ppenguinscomedyclub.com

Thompson’s favorite comedians

Here’s what singer/songwriter Keifer Thompson had to say about his favorite comedians:

1. Steve Martin: He is one of the first comics I was ever exposed to. Listen to his material. It’s clean and brilliant.

2. Sam Kinison: It’s hard to believe Kinison was a preacher. He had no fear.

3. Richard Pryor: His fearlessness kills me. He was so creative all the way down to his album covers, which were so cool.

4. Eddie Murphy: I remember listening to his albums “Raw” and “Delirious” and just soaking every bit of it up. I tried to let my mom or dad know I was listening to it due to the content. It still stands up.

5. Sebastian Maniscalco: Sebastian knocks me out. I love his style of comedy.

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