Dr. Grins,Grand Rapids
Feb. 6-8, show times at 8, 9 and 10:30 p.m.
thebob.com, (616) 356-2000
Many comedians are ecstatic to perform the next biggest club or to branch out on a U.S. tour. Alonzo Bodden, however, prefers to branch out a little farther. He has toured the globe performing for U.S. troops in places such as Iraq and Greenland, and has headlined in countries like Ireland and Australia.
"When you're in Sydney, it's fun because they get America, they understand the United States, but we still have cultural differences," Bodden said. "Then there are some things they just don't understand. Like Texas, for instance."
When these cultural blocks arise, Bodden says he enjoys the challenge of adapting his comedy to fit the audience. Some subjects, like American pop culture, are always a safe bet.
"For the United States, our biggest export is culture," Bodden said. "So when you go overseas and talk about a U.S. TV show, or a politician or an athlete, they generally know who or what you're talking about."
Bodden wasn't always a global comedic presence though. He used to work at McDonnell Douglas and Lockheed Martin, training aerospace workers. He realized he had a knack for comedy when he would incorporate jokes into his training to help even out the dry scientific aerospace jargon.
Eventually he would quit Lockheed Martin to pursue his comedy dream, and while working odd jobs during the day to make ends meet, he was sometimes given unusual opportunities. For instance, during a gig as a truck driver on the "Power Rangers" studio, a sound man heard Bodden talk and asked him to be the voice of a villain. Bodden said yes.
"It's much easier to sit in a studio and roar and yell and try to kill Power Rangers than it is to stand outside in the sun next to a truck," Bodden said. "So I became the voice of Thunderon."
In 2002, Bodden returned to TV when he appeared as a finalist on "Last Comic Standing." He ended up coming in second place, a spot he doesn't remember fondly.
"When you come in third they thank you for coming and everybody cheers," Bodden said. "And then there's just two of you onstage, and they say, 'and the winner is...' and then everybody cheers for the winner and you're second, and you're just kind of standing there like 'Oh, I should probably leave now.'"
He was invited back the following season and landed first place, a title he was much more comfortable with.
Since then, Bodden has toured the globe many times over and has kept himself busy with recurring roles as a guest panelist on NPR's Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me! and Game Show Network's "Mind of A Man." He will return for the seventh season of the Showtime series "Californication" this April. If it sounds like he's busy, he is, but Bodden says that just comes with the territory.
"This business is always about what's next," he said. "I don't know that you ever get to sit on your lulls."