A comedian keeping it real
Who: Darryl Lenox
Where: Buffalo Bills
When: Tuesday, March 18
Comedians get to travel to some far-flung places but Saudi Arabia would have to be one of the more unusual stops on a funnymans circuit. For Darryl Lenox the Middle East was certainly a memorable moment, but not in the way youd think.
In 1998, he was invited to entertain U.S. military personnel stationed there in a desert camp. While on stage, Lenox noticed the commanding officer on base enjoying beer and a Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, two items forbidden under Saudi law and certainly serious contraband for the average soldier living in tents below the COs air-conditioned villa. Naturally Lenox incorporated his observations in that evening's performance. The troops loved it but the brass went nuclear, booting Lenox off the tour.
He doesnt seem to mind though, hes been touring top spots like Whistler, Las Vegas, Montreal, New York, San Francisco and everywhere in between ever since. So does he think hell make it back to the Middle East any time soon?
"No way. Ive done a couple of those USO tours and the first one was incredible, like a vacation visiting all those places. But in the end I just cant handle hypocrisy and even if I did it all over again, I wouldnt change a thing," he said.
Lenox is known for being a comedian with strong opinions and serves up an interesting perspective through his humour and social commentary. Its a style that may have got him kicked out of the army but it has served him well with the rest of the world.
"Im no different on stage to when Im off. Im a pretty introspective person and so once Ive got the mike I just talk about what Ive been thinking about, feeling or seeing, and considering comedy is so subjective, some people arent going to like it, although hopefully most people do and just see the funny side," said Lenox.
The Las Vegas born, Seattle raised, New York- and Vancouver-based nomad does not need to worry about being a hit. Hes won several awards already, including the coveted San Francisco Comedy Competition in 2000, known for being a tough one to win.
"Its more difficult doing comps because its not just a regular gig. Youre being judged. You might have a night where you thought you were great, the audience loved it but the judges saw something in you that wasnt worthy of a high score. Thats kinda hard to deal with," said Lenox.
At the end of the day for this comedy festival regular, its all about the good times, especially when the comedy festivals are on.
"For comedians, its like a big prom. Its the equivalent to a big film festival for actors and directors. Youre around peers and everyone from the industry is there. Everyones dressed up and really excited and wants to know who that new person is. The stuff offstage is way more exciting than whats actually going on onstage. Deals get done behind the scenes and its so exciting to be around all that stuff."
Laugh with Lenox at Buffalo Bills on Tuesday night for just $6. Show starts at 8:30 p.m., with Bills grill open for meals.