Wednesday, February 13, 2013

French Accent

So this Frenchman walks into a bar…

No, it’s not a joke, although it has to do with comedy and I was the guy strolling into the tavern. Setting is not so important as much as being dazzled by a new talent.

Kevin Bennett, a.k.a French Accent, an accordion playing, France zinging, stage personality, will undoubtedly pull a chuckle from you. I laughed hard that night. By the way, it was in a sports bar, game on, football fans distracted by the competition, yet they all hardy-har-harred at Kevin’s act.

CIR: What ultimately do you want to do with comedy? Is it for fun, possibility of going big, or just good promo?

KB: Y'know, I initially moved to Colorado from Wyoming on the flip of a coin and a prayer with the intent of doing comedy. Then I got here, accidentally did a musical open-mic at some bum-ridden Denver dive, and decided there was no comedy scene in Colorado. Then a girl I intended to marry broke up with me, shattering a veil that revealed she was dumb, I got a DWAI, lost my license, and learned there was an open-mic--a legitimate open-mic--in the town I lived in. I went to it, I did my thing, it was fun, and that old goal of perhaps making a living came back to me. But there's more than just making a living in comedy, I think. Comedy provides a unique window through which other people can appreciate, understand, and perhaps accept a tangent viewpoint without feeling badgered or defensive. The magic of a joke can reveal things about the world in ways no other media can. So I do it for that reason. And because it's fun. And I like it. And people laugh. And I feel like the Lord's brought me here and has a plan for whatever I'm doing onstage. So for those reasons, basically, I think. Maybe. Yeah.

CIR: Do you think your theater background helped you to refine your very polished comedy act?

KB: Boy howdy! I feel as though my whole life's been a series of dominoes leading inexorably to where I'm at now. I don't know the future, so while now my comedic goals tend toward a career, comedy may just be another stepping stone toward my life's ultimate niche. I don't know. I can definitely say that theatre was a massive influence. For movement, energy, give and take from the audience, and free expression, you can't beat theatre. Notice How I pretentiously put the "r" before the "e". I don't even mean to do that. You just get in the habit after you go through theatre, unless you make a prime effort not to. That's because in theatre the professors, who are mostly washed-up hasbeens or wannabes hoping to drip some legacy on a new generation, do have a heady respect for what they do. They have to, as it is tied closely with their own self-respect. And so they extend that respect for the craft to the students. So suddenly you get a bunch of 18-year-old kids running around laughing and play-acting and taking themselves way too seriously. But this is important because it really helps you on stage: you're not afraid to be ridiculous, because you're an AC-TOR! (Big Shakespearean flourish.) And you are eloquent! And if you have a tiny little three line part, you learn to suck every joke/dramatic gasp out of that part you possibly can. Because not everybody can be the lead! So there's a lot of natural things about theatre that lend themselves to comedy--which, by the way, is in many ways more difficult than tragedy. Bad tragedy is cheesy. Bad comedy induces the audience to hoot, holler, heckle and harangue. So while you'll you'll through a poorly cast shakespeare play, you will excoriate a hack comic. I.E., with comedy, you have to learn to think on the fly. I feel like Comedy is the theatrical equivalent of Jazz. The jokes are your chord progression, but the audience picks the rhythm, and every now-and-again you've got to throw in a few crazy notes to keep 'em with ya.

CIR: You are a writer as well. What genres do you pen? What would you like to accomplish with your manuscripts?

KB: Primarily science fiction, though I've done a few "contemporary action"/"artsy-fartsy" pieces as well. I wrote a few novels. One is stupid, one needs a re-write, one is under-appreciated, and the other is juvenile. They're all science fiction/speculative fiction. And I've got several hundred thousand words in fantasy/sci-fi via short story as well. Writing is an excellent help, along with theatre, in standup, as it teaches you to be tight in your prose, which becomes performance. The best comedians are usually good writers as well. Anyway, I've got a few good stories out there online. Right now you can find "2135: The Year Disco Came Back" in an audio recording, and in prose. It's been published a few times on the 'net. A few local guys in Fort Collins and I are working on adapting it onto a musical, though we've hit a number of budgeting snags over the last year. Anywho, that story'll give you an idea. While not all my tales have that "vision/prophetic" vibe, they do all have interesting configurations of the English language and some easter-egg chuckles if you're looking for 'em. Example: I wrote a book called "Indigo Men", which is also available as an e-book if anyone's interested (check ) and in that book are man-sized camel-spiders, aliens, giants, men-in-black, clairvoyant orphans, time-travel, Jihadists, God, the devil, and a man ripping his beard off to weave a rope. It's some crazy stuff. I still fancy one day I might make it as an author, but "how can a man know his own footsteps"? No idea where I'm headed or where I'll end up, so I figure I'll just enjoy the ride until I'm where I oughta be.

Thanks, Kevin! To our readers, get a load of this. Be prepared to laugh until you hurt.
Keep up with Kevin on Facebook.



Anonymous said...

What a thoughtful and insightful interview. Thank you Kevin, for sharing. Your comedy is fantastic. I'm quite sure your path is being directed. All the best as you take each step.

I will never hear the 12 Days of Christmas in quite the same way...

Patricia Stoltey said...

This is such a good and entertaining interview. And it's so refreshing to "meet" someone who writes and isn't afraid to say that one of his manuscripts is stupid. We should all learn to do that.