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Cinema’s comedy showcase gets a little Zany

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If 30 years in show business has taught Bob Zany anything, it’s you have to be tenacious, witty and determined to reach your dreams.

Columbus residents will have the opportunity to see why when he returns to the YES Cinema stage Saturday. Presented as part of the cinema’s comedy showcase series, Zany will perform shows at 7 and 9:30 p.m.

All proceeds from the show benefit programs provided through the Lincoln-Central Neighborhood Family Center.

Since he made his comedic debut at age 15 on the amateur talent contest “The Gong Show” in 1976 (yes, he was gonged), Zany was determined to be a successful comedian.

The southern California native spent a decade honing his craft while working for KLOS Radio in Los Angeles before returning to “The Gong Show” as a guest judge in the mid-1980s. From that point forward, everything fell into place.

Zany, whose real name is Robert Tetreault, credits his family, including a witty mother and tenacious father, with fostering his interest in comedy. His ability to give everyday life’s absurd moments a dry, comedic slant is firmly rooted in his experiences growing up in a dysfunctional family with a sister and two brothers.

The trademark cigar that’s always in his hand is a nod to the old-time comics, Zany said. But you won’t see him light up.

Ready, set, laugh

What: YES Comedy Showcase presents Bob Zany

When: 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: YES Cinema, 328 Jackson St.

Admission: $20 in advance; $25 at the door. Tickets can be purchased at YES Cinema, the Cinema Cafe or Lincoln-Central Neighborhood Family Center, 1039 Sycamore St. Ticket price excludes concessions.

Information: 379-1630,

“I took it onstage one evening, and it stuck,” Zany said. “I haven’t smoked it in 17 years.”

If you’ve never heard Zany’s material or seen him live, he considers himself to be a PG to PG-13 act with an R-rated chaser.

Unlike comedians who often resort to the profane to get a laugh, Zany said years of working in radio conditioned him to be more restrained.

“I’m as good as my audience,” Zany said. “If my audience is getting the jokes, I can play. If not, I’m a bit more confined.”

Zany says things that a lot of people wish they had the courage to say themselves, said Diane Doup, outreach coordinator of the Lincoln-Central Neighborhood Family Center.

If you’re looking for a comparable comic, think Drew Hastings, Doup said.

“Zany looks at things from such a dry perspective; it is one of the things that makes his comedy so unique,” Doup said. “He doesn’t make a lot of appearances here in the Midwest, so this is a great opportunity to see him.”

A veteran of the syndicated “Bob & Tom Show,” Zany has hosted “The Zany Report” for more than a decade, and regularly tours domestically and internationally. His résumé includes work in the television and film industries, with recent appearances in “23 Minutes to Sunrise” with Eric Roberts and “The Informant” with Matt Damon. But Zany said his heart is still behind the mic onstage.

“Stand-up is who I am,” Zany said. “And who I always will be.”

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