If you’re a fan of Comedy shows such Martin Lawrence’s 1st Amendment Stand Up or BET’s Comic View, than more than likely you have heard of funny man, Gary Owen. The comedian has not only been a force on the stand-up scene, but he has also starred in hit films Think Like A Man and Rebound. These days, his own Stand-Up, True Story is available on DVD and he is touring the country alongside some of the best in the business on the Shaquille O’neal Presents: All Star Comedy Jam Tour. The tour which is in its third successful season is hosted by Gary Owen, another sign that he’s becoming one of the elite comedians in the business.
Like many comedians, Gary Owen started out at a young age. Even in high school, watching acts like Eddie Murphy helped him clarify that comedy was what he wanted to do with his life, but he didn’t know how to go about it. When he started watching the uncensored craziness of Def Comedy Jam, he discovered what type of comedian he wanted to be and what type of reactions he wanted from his audience. “I don’t want the polite applause,” Owens explained. “I want the people going crazy.”
Some of the earliest achievements of his career include being voted “Funniest Serviceman in America,” along with winning “Funniest Comedian in San Diego” contest. It’s no secret that he has maintained a strong following within the Black community. When asked about this, he mentioned how he got introduced to Black comedy clubs. “When I first got into this, I could only get on stage once a week at the mainstream room if I was lucky. A couple of Black guys I worked with told me I could get on stage 4 or 5 times a week at the Black spots. It took off from there.”
His popularity with African-American audiences lead to him appearing on and eventually hosting BET’s Comic View. At the time, the host of the show was picked based on who was the audience’s favorite for that season. “I think I’m the only white on air personality ever on the network, I don’t know if that’s a good thing or bad thing. They haven’t hired anybody white since, so I wonder if I was difficult to deal with.” Owens jokes.
If you watch his comedy acts, you know that Gary Owens approaches his comedy in a way that is smarter than usual racial humor. He doesn’t try to be offensive or mean spirited like other comedians who use racial humor, but instead uses his perspective on life, such as being married to a Black woman. He was quoted saying, “It wouldn’t be any different if I was married to an Asian woman or a Jewish woman. I’m married to a Black woman and I just talk about my live experience and my experiences are going to be different than others. I don’t do the typical, ‘Oh, Black people are always late, Black people got bad credit, Black people are great athletes’ in my acts. It’s like we hear it so much when people do the stereotypical racial humor.”
Just like many other comedians, Gary Owen has also had to deal with hecklers. When asked about hecklers, he had interesting stories about them. “My first time on stage, I was at The Comedy Store. There were comedians in the back heckling me and messing with me because I was the new guy. I had a beer in my hand and I was only 20 so I told them, ‘Hey guys, keep talking because I’m only 20 and I’ve been drinking in this club all night. I’ll call the cops and shut this mother down!’ When I say they kicked me out so fast!”
One time, he accidentally “defended” himself against a woman who yelled “We love you Gary” in the audience. Having to deal with hecklers consistently had his guard up so he attacked her not realizing what she had actually said. “When they told me what happened and what the woman actually said, I felt like a dick.” Now he has found a better way of dealing with hecklers. “When I get a heckler that’s a Black person, I tell them I got enough problems with the Black people in my family let alone the strangers.”
Of course, being a famous comedian has it’s own perks. He has met and become friends with many other celebrities and athletes. He is friends with athletes such as Dwayne Wade and Brandon Marshall as well as fellow comedian Kevin Hart.
Recently he wrapped up filming on 10 episodes of a new Tru Tv show called Upload with Shaquille O’neal that starts in January. “It’s funny when you’re around Shaq so much, because sometimes when we go out, I forget who he is. People just lose their minds and I wonder what the big deal is because he’s just Shaq? People go crazy about me being around Kevin Hart and I just say ‘It’s Kev from Philly, whats the big deal?’”
Whether it’s major films like Think Like A Man and Little Man, or stand up acts on shows like 1st Amendment Stand-up, Gary Owen is building a larger fan base with every performance. Be sure to get his new DVD True Story in stores now as well as the Shaquille O’neal Presents: All Star Comedy Jam DVD.