John Heffron w/ Todd McComas
Dr. Grins Comedy Club, Grand Rapids
Thurs.: 9 p.m., Fri./Sat. 8 p.m. & 10:30 p.m.
thebob.com/drgrinscomedy, (616) 356-2000
Like the saying goes: You can take a comedian out of Michigan, but you can’t take Michigan out of a comedian.
Fifteen years after moving from the Great Lakes State to sunny Southern California, stand-up veteran John Heffron has a deep-seated appreciation for his childhood home and its unique seasonal challenges.
“I enjoy coming back to Michigan because I know Michigan people grew up the same way I did,” Heffron said. “There’s something about growing up in a cold climate that makes you a better person because we’re all just happy we didn’t die last winter.”
Born and raised in the metro Detroit area, Heffron said he still has a lot of family in Michigan. He often finds himself back here around the holidays, right when the worst of the bitter cold settles in.
“It is amazing how quickly my blood thinned since I moved out of Michigan,” he said. “I’m definitely a wuss when it comes to dealing with cold. I own one winter jacket now and I only bust that out when I know I’m coming to Michigan.”
Despite the differences in temperature, Heffron remains a Michigander at heart, and prefers the warmth of the people here to the cool nonchalance of his fellow L.A. residents.
“I still refuse to relate to L.A. and I refuse to root for any Los Angeles sports teams of any kind,” Heffron said. “I still wear flannel and every piece of my clothing has a Detroit ‘D’ on it.”
Heffron’s days in comedy go back to his time at Eastern Michigan University where he began performing onstage at 18. He soon became a favorite on the college comedy circuit and after successfully touring the country a few times he tried to make his way in Hollywood.
Later he returned to Michigan when he landed a gig as a radio sidekick to celebrity personality Danny Bonaduce. Their morning talk show on Detroit station Q-95.5 exposed his style of humor to a wider audience.
“It gave me confidence because our show was pretty popular in Detroit. I was a pseudo-mini celebrity,” Heffron said. “When I went back to Los Angeles I had a little cash in my pocket and a little bit more of an ego, which helped.”
Heffron’s bigger break came in 2004 when he won the second season of the NBC reality series Last Comic Standing. The show brought his Midwestern mix of middle-age reminiscing and quick-witted commentary to the masses.
Since then, Heffron has become a road favorite, headlining comedy clubs from coast to coast for more than a decade. He also got married and became a parent, which has only given him more material to bring up onstage. In the spirit of fatherly wisdom, he released an advice book titled I Come To You From the Future in 2014.
“I feel as lost now at my age as I did when I was 18 but that’s the fun of it, I think,” he said. “The people who have their lives all mapped out are the ones that have miserable lives.”