Several years ago St. Louis native Greg Warren left his profitable job at Cincinnati-based Proctor & Gamble to pursue his life’s dream: stand-up comedy. His experiences in the Midwest and his encounters with others shape the basis of his comedy. “During the day I can figure out what I want to say and at night I can say it to a live audience and see if they laugh,” he says. Warren, who performs at Hilarities from June 16-21, recently spoke about his comedic career. — Amy Booker
How would you describe your comedy?
It’s basically scenes from growing up in the Midwest. Bob Newhart with a little bit more of an edge. I say that fully realizing that I’m not as good as Bob Newhart. He’s like my idol. In my act you hear both sides of the conversation. You hear me and the waiter, me and my best friend in high school, me and the drill sergeant from West Point when I was a freshman in college. I talk a lot about my personal experiences because I’ve had a lot of unusual personal experiences.
Before comedy what type of career did you have?
I worked at P&G because it seemed like the sensible thing to do. And it just seemed like sort of the solid good citizen Midwestern family thing to do. I was making really good money.
What made you dedicate your life to comedy? How has this decision paid off for you?
I did a show in Dayton, Ohio, opening for Kevin Pollack and did really well and he told me that he thought I was really funny. And my friend in Dayton who owned the club thought I was really funny. There was no logical reason to do this; I was just going to go with my gut. It looked like a stupid decision. I knew if I didn’t do it, I would wake up 30 years later and just regret it. I remember thinking I’m addicted and there’s no way I can’t do it.
You mentioned the strenuous touring schedule for standup comedy and how you travel upwards of 45 week per year. Why stick with performing solely standup comedy?
To me the best part of the road is the 45 minutes I’m on stage every night. During the day I can figure out what I want to say and at night I can say it to a live audience and see if they laugh. I swear my best shows are in the rust belt. Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan area are like my three best states. I just identify with those people more than anybody
As a comedian what type of jokes or humor do you find most amusing?
When I was growing up I was more of a sketch man, Saturday Night Live stuff. I was a big Eddie Murphy fan. My friend game me a cassette tape of his stand up and I listened to it like 80 times until I memorized it.
Do you have any plans to take you comedy standup acts from the stage to the screen?
I was on the Last Comic Standing and a BET comedy contest. I don’t think realty shows mix very well with comedy. I’ve done some acting for Internet sketches. I enjoy acting, but standup is the ultimate goal. As things come up, I’m always open to them.
What projects are you working on after the Cleveland show?
Right after I leave Cleveland I have an upcoming CD on Comedy Central’s label set to release June 23.