Long before comedian Alonzo Bodden hit it big with the grand prize on the 2004 season of the reality TV show Last Comic Standing, he was already scoring laughs in Carlsbad.
“I have known Alonzo since he started in stand-up,” said veteran comedian Lamont Ferguson, recalling the night he first watched Bodden. “Anyone you see where you go, that guy has a glimmer of something, you just pull him aside and give him something positive.”
That night Ferguson encouraged him to keep writing and working, and soon after their first meeting, he offered him a gig with West Coast Funnies in 2003, a monthly Carlsbad comedy show that is part stand-up showcase, part current-events takedown. Bodden will appear as the show's headline comic at the at 8 p.m. Saturday.
One reality show championship, several film gigs, and two comedy DVDs later, Bodden has hit his stride, but he still takes the time to visit Carlsbad ever since Ferguson co-founded West Coast Funnies eight years ago.
“The crew at West Coast Funnies is great,” Bodden said. “We have a lot of fun. There is a whole lot of stupid going on.”
West Coast Funnies is a night of comedy that skips between sketches based on current events and a parody newscast, according to Ferguson and co-founder Stan Simmons. The night ends with a guest and a headliner comedian performing their own material.
But Ferguson and Simmons aren’t the only news junkies performing Saturday.
Bodden’s latest project, a New York City performance DVD titled Who’s Paying Attention, tackles what he sees as the “absurdity” of news topics and media coverage today.
Where others throw up their hands in exasperation—gay marriage, the Tea Party, epidemic scares, airport security—Bodden clamps down like a shark on a carcass in his routines.
“There is complete unrest in the Middle East and gas went up to more than $4 a gallon, but the No. 1 thing in the news is Charlie Sheen,” Bodden pointed out in an interview.
His critical eye crosses party lines. “As a comic, these are rich times. Everyone said we [comics] are going to be in trouble, but God likes us, so he gave us Sarah Palin,” he said. But moments later, he took a swing at our commander in chief: “No one surrenders quicker than a Democrat. Listen, they all hate you. Why not just do what you want to do?”
Bodden’s keen eye and easy demeanor won him a strong track record early on, earning him a decent living on tour and landing bit movie and TV gigs.
“It’s his delivery. Unlike a lot of comics, Alonzo is the same person off the stage as he is on the stage. I think with Alonzo it is completely natural,” Simmons said.
Ferguson took notice, inviting Bodden to fill a spot in their line-up right before his Last Comic Standing audition. Ferguson said he is always looking for quality comics who still fly under the radar. Bodden fit the bill.
Things finally changed for the comic with his reality show win. The exposure boosted his popularity, drawing big crowds whenever his name hit the marquees.
Now with a syndicated talk show, Inside the Vault, and auditions lined up, Bodden hopes to hit new levels of stardom.
“Last Comic was a good experience. It was great exposure,” he said. “It was my introduction to America, and I am hoping to do bigger and better things.”
Bodden will appear with the West Coast Funnies at the Carlsbad Village Theatre, 2822 State St., on Saturday, March 19, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 and available by calling 562-786-3111.