Dan Cummins to give comedic performance


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It's hard to describe what characteristics can make a person funny. For some, it's the ability to evoke laughter from everyday scenarios people can relate to. But for others, simply drawing attention to any abnormal physical feature they may possess can cause hilarity to ensue.

For Dan Cummins, he was lucky to realize his comedic tendencies at a young age, and he owes it all to his third-grade teacher.

"I was the new kid in school," he said. "My teacher, Mrs. Williamson, asked the class if anyone had any pets. I said, 'Yes, I have a cheetah under my sink,' and the cutest girl in glass, Kim Daude, laughed and smiled at me. I've been making absurd, sarcastic, and/or utterly ridiculous statements ever since."

He will provide laughter at 9 p.m. Saturday in the Mill, 120 E. Burlington St. Admission is $10 in advance, $12 at the door.

No longer a new kid in standup, Cummins recorded his first hourlong standup special titled "Dan Cummins: Crazy With a Capital F" on Comedy Central earlier this year. His professional credentials include appearances on "The Bob and Tom Show," "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien," and season six of "Last Comic Standing."

Since giving standup a shot more than a decade ago, he feels his comedy has come a long way from charming cute girls in elementary school.

"One of my first jokes I kept using for a long time was about someone getting a pet cobra, and its biting them, and then they died," he said. "It has a physical act of me yelling at my pet after getting bit, 'No! Bad Cobra!' And it's a joke I still like, but it's very simple. I think my writing has grown more complex over the years, and I've also opened up more about my personal life than I used to on stage. I let people really get to know the real me a lot more, as opposed to just how I feel about, for instance, people who buy cobras for pets."

He credits his inspirations for early standup material from daydreaming about subjects ranging from "clowns, time travel, and Sasquatch," but he has since allowed his personal life to be the punch line of his jokes.

"Now, I write about a lot of real-life experiences and the people I'm around a lot, such as my kids and girlfriend," Cummins said. "I tend to focus on things I find to be unique and things that not a lot of other comics have talked about. I don't want to end up with the same kind of 'Oh my silly kids' material 100 other comics already have."

His influences range from classic comedians such as Steven Wright and Eddie Murphy to '90s sketch-comedy shows "Kids in the Hall" and "In Living Color," he said.

University of Iowa junior Jon Haedt said he enjoyed Cummins' recent standup special.

"He did this bit about shopping online when you've had too much to drink," Haedt said. "I thought it was hilarious, but it was almost too hard to laugh at because I've been down that road too many times."

It appears as if reality is the ultimate source of Cummins' material, and even he never knows when a potential joke could strike.

"Unique encounters always get my comedic mind going," he said. "It can be anything from seeing a guy with a tattoo on his face or watching a grown woman wet herself at Six Flags."

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