Every day that accountant-turned-comedian John Garrett is not in a cubicle he considers a win.
“Being the funniest accountant is like driving the fastest minivan,” Garrett said. “Because you’re still an accountant.”
Local residents are invited to join Garrett when he returns to the YES Cinema stage for an evening of humor, as he shares his observations about human nature and everyday life. The show, set for 8 p.m. Saturday, is part of the Cinema’s comedy showcase series.
All proceeds from the show benefit programing provided through the Lincoln-Central Neighborhood Family Center.
If you go
What: YES Comedy Showcase presents John Garrett, 8 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 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Once described by a colleague as “adorably obnoxious,” Garrett said his training as a stand-up comic began when he was very young.
Garrett’s father was in the U.S. Air Force, so the family moved constantly. Looking back, Garrett said he was fortunate to have traveled to places many people might never have the chance to see. He was always able to make friends no matter where they lived.
“When you’re the new kid, and you have jokes, everyone wants to be your friend,” Garrett said. “It was a unique experience, but I think it did influence me a bit and gave me some of the beneficial tools for stand-up.”
Garrett graduated from Notre Dame with a degree in accounting in 1998, but said he didn’t set out to be a certified public accountant.
“I started out in engineering, but I got a D in physics, so that put an end to that,” Garrett said. “So I went into business, a more logical path.”
Immediately after graduation, he went to work at Pricewaterhouse Coopers, a global consulting firm. Although crunching numbers paid the bills, Garrett said he knew his career wasn’t behind a desk.
While on a business trip in 1999, he went to an open mic night at the Improv in Hollywood, Calif., with some colleagues. As he watched the novices tell their jokes, he couldn’t help but think, “I can do that.”
And he did — eventually.
Garrett found himself on stage during an open mic event for the first time in February 2000 in St. Louis.
Comedy quickly became a hobby.
“I would spend my days in my cubical writing jokes on a legal pad I stole from the supply closet,” Garrett said.
There’s a long time between that first open mic and getting paid, Garrett said. For the next several years, the CPA worked as a comic outside the usual 9-to-5.
Garrett’s work as an accountant required him to relocate a couple times until 2002, when he settled in Indianapolis. He was getting more comedy gigs and being paid more for them. And soon he was taking vacation days to travel for his comedy. That lasted until May 2005.
“My last corporate job was at Clarian, the hospital network in Indianapolis,” Garrett said. “I had enough of that and I stepped away. I realized I had more fun making fun of the corporate world than being a part of it.”
Don’t think this former CPA’s routine is as analytical or dry. Most of his material is born of a skewed perspective of everyday life, he said.
He describes his quest for material as constant writing and rewriting. He’s analytical and logical, but said when that part of his brain gets tired, he best material comes out.
“Some days it’s like a faucet, just nonstop ideas, and other days I’ve got to work at it,” Garrett said. “We’re all seeing the same things, but comedians see it through a different lens. We’re cursed from the beginning.”
Garrett’s show contains clean adult humor and carries a PG-13 rating, so it is appropriate for teens.
Diane Doup, outreach coordinator of the Lincoln-Central Neighborhood Family Center, compares Garrett’s humor to the likes of Jerry Seinfeld.
“Not only is he funny, he’s just good a good person,” Doup said. “He’s just as nice onstage as off. People can relate to him.”
Doup said having Garrett back is also a homecoming of sorts. While performing here in 2007, Garrett met his wife, Jenni, who was working part-time for LCNFC.
“She had my check, so I had to see her before I left,” Garrett said. “I asked her out, and we started seeing one another.”
The couple married in 2010.
Garrett firmly believes everyone should have a life passion they actively pursue. Garrett said he enjoys comedy because there isn’t really a message; instead, it’s the little things you take away from the experience.
“I think comedy allows people to see that they aren’t alone in dealing with life,” Garrett said. “It feels better to know that others are going through the same thing.”
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