Comic Jeff Allen keeps his humor clean
Friday, June 25, 2010
Jeff Allen was lured into the comedy business by its appealing hours.
While working for a jewelry company, he was at a trade show in Chicago and went to a comedy club around the corner from the hotel.
"I immediately fell in love with the prospect of working one hour a day," he said.
He started in comedy in the late 1970s and found his shtick was more fulfilling and successful when performed as a family-friendly, clean act. Allen will bring his clean comedy to Cape First Church for a performance at 7 p.m. today.
In a profession crowded with crass humor and sexual innuendo, Allen said it's not hard to go the other way.
"I get a dictionary out and a thesaurus out, and I realized we have a wonderful language if we use it," he said.
Allen said his father, whom he describes as a "pretty foul-mouthed construction worker," heard him curse when he was younger, "and he said to me 'only the ignorant cuss like that.'"
Starting out in the business, though, Allen followed the others.
"When I started in comedy, everybody swore and everybody did dirty," he said. "There came a point where I was too dirty to be clean and too clean to be dirty."
After Andrew "Dice" Clay hit the scene with his notoriously raunchy acts in the 1980s, Allen had to make a choice.
"I remember telling somebody one day [that] if you're going to be dirty as a comic, you're going to have to go beyond Dice Clay," he said. "And who wants to do that?
"I made a conscious effort to clean up my stuff," he said.
After cleaning up his act, Allen decided to clean up his life. He said he was not raised in a church and was an atheist for most of his life. He started in Alcoholics Anonymous and when at a meeting, "They said 'Pray' and I said 'To what?' That set me on a 15-year search for, I guess, a point," he said.
"I felt like people were making this deity up and I thought that was kind of delusional, so I wanted to know if God was real and that was my journey. It all kind of culminated with Christ."
Allen's life may be filled with Christ, but his comedy is mostly secular, focusing on family life, dieting and his experiences living with his menopausal wife.
"I satirize my family because I know my family intimately," he said. "In order to do satire, you have to know your subject."
Not having been raised in a church, Allen said he stays away from religious humor because he doesn't know whom he would offend.
"I don't really know who I'd tick off and who I wouldn't tick off," he said. "And if you're going to tick people off, at least do it consciously, and that way if they punch you in the face you know why."
Allen's show will be at 7 p.m. today at Cape First Church. Tickets are $10 and still available from the church office or at the door. Proceeds benefit the Cape First's 2010 Guatemala Missions Trip.