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Comedian Chris Strait performs standup

BY ERIC HAWKINSON | DECEMBER 02, 2010 7:20 AM

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Comedian Chris Strait wants to make you laugh. He could care less about the rest of the job, especially dealing with the "immature" people in the entertainment business.

"What I love is the actual performance," he said. "It's 10 percent of the job, the reaction. I just love seeing that. I love getting up there, getting that first joke out. They smile, and you can just feel the room relax. I love that feeling."

The comedian will make his way from California to Iowa for a gig at 10 p.m. today in the IMU Black Box Theatre. The show, put on by the Campus Activities Board, is free.

Strait said he'd have to break out his winter coat for this show.

"Comedians can perform anywhere," he said and laughed. "I guess whoever was in charge at University of Iowa saw me in a five- to six-minute clip and said, 'You know, we want that guy.' So Iowa in December."

Campus Activities Board comedy director Audrey Shelton thinks Strait's performance is a great way to finish the semester of comedy at the university.

"We chose Chris for our last show of the fall semester because he's a great example of how hilarious people can be," she said. "I would describe Chris's humor as classic — the things he says, you just can't help but laugh until your sides hurt."

Four young local comedians, who, Shelton said, are regular opening acts for the Campus Activities Board shows, will open for Strait: Trenton Orris, Tim Unkenholz, Greg Goettel, and Tom Garland, a Daily Iowan TV employee, are beginning their careers in the business.

"They're starting young, which I encourage," Strait said. "I started when I was 24. If you think you want to do it, give it a shot."

He began his career as a psychologist who realized he would rather "talk than listen." He began playing small shows, then clubs, and by the time he was 29, he was making enough money to quit his day job.

He's been doing comedy ever since.

"I've been on a few TV shows. I'm on truTV's 'The Smoking Gun' pretty much every week now," Strait said. "My first standup experience was on the Playboy channel, which was interesting."

He has also done shows around the world for the troops overseas. He's been to places he said he otherwise never would have visited, including Germany, the Middle East, and Japan.

"Some of the shows are just like bar shows anywhere; it's not like you're in a war zone," he said. "Some people might be there for you, some might be there for the dancing. Overall, I think they're a little bit more respectful audiences."

Whether he is in a military base or on a college campus, he looks at his comedy the same — he wants his audience to be relaxed and laugh at life.

"I want to be able to talk to these crowds like they're my friends, and I talk to my friends about anything," he said. "There are no taboo subjects for me."


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