116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
The military and comedy are unlikely bedfellows. Few cadets become comedians. However, Greg Warren, who attended West Point, is a veteran comic.
'It's an unlikely but true story,” Warren said by phone from his St. Louis home. 'I was recruited by West Point. A lot of people were impressed that I was going to go (there) and so I did. It wasn't where I was supposed to be. I didn't enjoy it.”
Warren, 50, dropped out of the academy along New York's Hudson River, ending his military career.
'I saved a lot of lives by going in another direction,” he said. 'But I did develop my sense of humor there.”
The corporate world was next for Warren, who worked at Procter & Gamble for a decade.
'I loved it there, but I needed something more,” he said. 'I wouldn't have been happy if I just worked for them. I would have looked back someday and knew that I could have done more than work at a company like Procter & Gamble.”
Much like the iconic Jeff Foxworthy, who toiled at IBM before breaking into comedy, Warren left security and stability for the unpredictable life of a comedian.
'I was doing well at Procter & Gamble,” Warren said. 'It was a great company. But I started doing comedy at night after working during the day and I realized that comedy was my passion. When I decided to leave the company and go into comedy, my dad was less than thrilled.”
However, 18 years after leaving the suits behind, Warren couldn't be happier with his career move.
'I can't tell you how satisfied I am as a comedian,” he said. 'I'm returning to where it all basically started for me.”
Penguins Comedy Club in Cedar Rapids - where Warren will perform once Friday (4/5) and twice Saturday (4/6) - was where he made his debut after leaving Procter & Gamble.
'Penguins was the first club I started my new life with,” he said. 'I have a lot of memories there. I feel so comfortable at Penguins. It really is a significant place for me. Every time I go back to Penguins I think of the first time I played there.”
Warren is so comfortable at Penguins that he's doing an all-ages show Saturday afternoon, in addition to his evening performances.
'Why not do an all-ages show,” he said. 'I'm a clean comic. Kids can come out. I won't be doing anything inappropriate. There's not enough all-ages show in comedy.”
Expect Warren to deliver observational humor and self deprecating stories.
'I'll be more on top of things than when I played Iowa in the past,” he said. 'A couple of years ago, I was playing Des Moines and I asked some farmers what they farm and they said, ‘Beans.' I said, ‘Green beans?' They started laughing at me like I was the dumbest person they ever met. They were farming soybeans. I didn't think I was that ridiculous. It wasn't like I said, ‘What, are you farming jelly beans?' So I know I have to be on top of my game in Iowa.”
Warren will wax about the complexities of midlife.
'It's difficult getting older,” he said. 'Am I the only one who is not crazy about those MRI machines? When you're in there it sounds like you're being riddled with machine-gun fire. I feel like screaming, ‘I've been hit.'”
The silver lining is that if Warren feels that way, at least he's in a hospital.
'That's true,” he said.
'It's difficult growing older, but what keeps me young is doing something that I love. I sometimes think about what it would have been like for me if I stayed in the corporate world. I made the right decision. I can talk about all sorts of things. It's cathartic and it makes me happy.”
WHAT: Greg Warren
WHERE: Penguins Comedy Club, 208 Second Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday (4/5), 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday (4/6)
TICKETS: $15 advance, $18 day of show for evening performances; $15 Saturday all-ages matinee; (319) 362-8133 or Penguinscomedyclub.com
ARTIST'S WEBSITE: Gregwarrencomedy.com