“Narcissist” is an adjective that often precedes the word “comedian.” Comics are typically self-interested.
“Stand-up comedians are usually in love with each other and will do anything to advance their career,” the late comic-actor Taylor Negron said not long before he died in 2015.
There are exceptions, such as Jeff Foxworthy, who insisted on producing his television shows in Georgia.
“I can’t put a price on taking my daughters to school,” Foxworthy said during a 2012 interview. “That’s as important to me as making people laugh.”
Michael Thorne is cut from the same cloth as Foxworthy. Thorne, 48, left Los Angeles a dozen years ago after the birth of his daughters.
“I was chasing my dream in L.A. and decided to go back (to his native Minnesota) so I could have a healthy family life,” Thorne said.
A divorce a year ago altered the stand-up comedian’s family life, but he remains a doting father.
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“I don’t want to miss anything that goes on with my kids,” Thorne said by phone from his Stillwater, Minn., home. “There is a trade off. I do get material that is inspired by my daughters.”
Thorne will crack wise about his children when he performs Friday (9/7) and Saturday (9/8) at Penguins Comedy Club in Cedar Rapids.
“My girls are 9 and 12, and I have so much sparkly stuff around the house, you would think I was dating a stripper,” Thorne joked. “I talk about the girls and Disney and princesses. I like to talk about how I explain the difference between the real world and YouTube with my daughters, who follow a lot of people on YouTube. They love YouTube. I joke about that stuff, but I’m sincere about talking about what matters, which is that I love experiencing the best times of their lives. I’ll do whatever it takes to experience that.”
When Thorne isn’t out on the road on select stand-up dates, you can find him behind the wheel as an Uber driver.
“I like that more than being a waiter,” Thorne said. “I’m 48 and I have a hard time listening to a 25-year-old restaurant manager. When I was a waiter I told a manager that I could be his father and he said to me, ‘Well, you are older.’ I told him that I really could be his father. I did a lot of drinking during the ’90s. I remember waiting tables when I moved back here. It was very humbling going from being asked for your autograph in Los Angeles to what I did when I was a waiter.”
What Thorne ironically did as a waiter was often ask for patron’s autographs, as in to sign their credit card receipt.
“That is so true,” Thorne said while laughing. “I don’t miss pretending to be excited about someone’s dinner selection. Being a waiter is horrible. It’s just not easy dealing with people.”
But Thorne has to deal with people as a stand-up comic. “But that’s so different,” he said. “That is a total joy. I love this even though I’m not the most famous comic in the world.”
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Thorne believes that perhaps his fairly normal background didn’t help him become an iconic comic.
“Look at Richard Pryor,” Thorne said. “His mother was a prostitute and he had such a crazy life as a child and he became a brilliant comic. I suffered from minor neglect and have a mediocre comedy career to show for it. Maybe if I were locked in a closet as a child, I would have had a better comedy career.
“But it doesn’t bother me that I’m not this famous person. I get to do what I do what I love. How many people can say that?”
WHAT: Michael Thorne
WHERE: Penguins Comedy Club, 208 Second Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday (9/7) and Saturday (9/8)
TICKETS: $12 advance, $15 day of show; (319) 362-8133 or Penguinscomedyclub.com