He’s on a new path with the same destination.

Therein lies the new and improved version of Columbus native and standup performer Jeff Bodart. He still wants to find your funny bone. He just might take a more circuitous route to get there.

“Instead of just direct jokes or bits, I do more stories now,” said the 39-year-old Bodart, a regular writer for the nationally syndicated “Bob and Tom Show.” “And while some comics prefer to tell one long story for one big laugh at the end, I like to have laughter throughout (a story). I want to build in a lot of laughs.”

Area residents can see for themselves when Bodart appears Friday and Saturday at the Harlequin Theatre inside FairOaks Mall in Columbus. The shows will be recorded for a new album for the comedian — his first since 2012’s “They’re Still In the Can.” One possible title he has suggested for the new disc: “Adorable and Affordable.”

“There’s a little more pressure for this second one,” he said. “I had 11 years to come up with good material for the first album. And now I’ve had only four years for this one for a good, solid hour of material.

“And it has to be better than the first.”

His past bits sometimes veered heavily, and usually quite successfully, into his tough luck in the romantic realm, striking something of a universal theme with audience members all too happy to find a salve for their own insecurity.

“I’m single,” he used to deadpan. “And I think that’s pretty obvious.”

In multiple video clips, the instant reaction was laughter.

Ross Duncliffe, the ex-comic and Lexington, Kentucky, owner of On Tour Records that will distribute Bodart’s release, used to perform regularly with Bodart and counts him as a friend. And a solid entertainer.

“He has a unique style about him that I have seen with no one else,” Duncliffe said. “And part of that is the fact that he is very unassuming.”

And still a guy with human sensitivities. Although he has cracked jokes at his own expense in his battle to get fit the past few years, he also hates it when audience members somehow compare to him to characters such as animated television’s Peter Griffin, the pudgy star of “Family Guy.”

Yet, he truly is a family guy, sometimes traveling from his Beech Grove apartment to help brother Mike with duties at the local Hoosier Sporting Goods store downtown. The sibling is one who got him into walking the Mill Race Marathon’s half marathon a few years ago.

At mile marker eight, he hitched a ride home with his dad, thinking he was crazy to try such a stunt.

“Eating healthy is tougher on the road,” Bodart said. “You do get lonely. And you deal with such extremes. On stage, you have incredible highs. Off stage, you’re almost always coming down.

“So I eat — and find myself doing that at inappropriate times.”

He acknowledged that he finds local shows more of a challenge, partly because he wants to do well for area residents.

“And I realize that Columbus is still a very conservative town,” he said.

His comedy world is expanding, though. He recently booked two weeks of appearances in December in the Bahamas, a place he never has worked. That time of year always can make a way for him to tell a story — one about his parents.

Their first names? Mary and Joseph.

Hometown comic going on record

Who: Columbus native and Beech Grove resident Jeff Bodart recording a standup routine for a new album. Opener will be Max Haddad.

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Where: The Harlequin Theatre inside FairOaks Mall, 2380 25th St. in Columbus.

Tickets: $15 in advance at the Harlequin, the mall office and Viewpoint Books downtown. Or $20 at the venue door.

Information: 812-343-4597.

Author photo
Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.