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Comedian Dave Waite
1/20-21, doors at 7 p.m.; show,  8 p.m.
Nutt Street Comedy Room
255 N. Front Street
$10-$12 •

Dave Waite ditches the office job and rides the stand-up comedy train at Nutt Street this weekend. Courtesy photo

Midway through the set of Dave Waite’s live album “Kaboom” (recorded at Skyline Comedy Café in Appleton, WI), the bearded and bespectacled comedian exclaims to his audience: “You’re probably wondering what’s wrong with me at this point in the show, I imagine.” Therein is the essence of Waite’s appeal: He’s self-deprecating but not depressing; weathered, but not preachy; self-aware but completely unapologetic.

A darkly funny everyman, Waite has made a name for himself in the comedy world with his brand of honest and bizarre stream-of-consciousness humor. Dave Waite’s eccentric stories and rants of personal failure have made him a favorite at clubs across the U.S.

Though he is well on his way to becoming a familiar face in the comedy game, Waite wasn’t always on the career path toward the stage. After graduating from Northern Kentucky University with a degree in geography, he coasted through a progression of dreary jobs ranging from call-center representative to substitute teacher. Little did Waite know these lackluster experiences would later become fuel for his stand-up act.

After shifting his focus toward comedy, he began performing all over the Midwest, quickly gaining a reputation amongst both comedians and audiences as a witty and unpredictable up-and-coming performer. The Cincinnati native typically covers a variety of topics, from woes of menial American jobs to other easily relatable topics, like how his parents threatened to sell him to gypsies if he didn’t do his homework. Filled with raucous energy and quick-paced punchlines, like the best comedians, Waite is fortunate to have an innocent and instant likable stage persona—a perfect marriage of the chubby, disheveled “off-the-street” look of Zach Galifianakis and the unassuming colloquialism of Dave Attell.

His big break came when he was asked to perform in front of the cameras for Comedy Central’s “Live at Gotham” series. Last year Stand-Up Records released Waite’s debut album, and he has appeared as a guest on the wildly popular morning show “The Bob & Tom Show.” Waite has since moved from Cincinnati to New York City, but regularly tours comedy clubs and universities around the country, including a two-night stop in Wilmington at the Nutt Street Comedy Room this weekend. encore spoke to Waite on the road about his journey to the stage.

encore: You graduated college with a degree in geography. Was that a passion of yours?
David Waite (DW): You know, when I went to college, I [originally] studied theatre for the first year-and-a-half, but I said, “I don’t know if this is going to happen.” So, I thought, I’ll just study geography—there’s a better career path for that.

e: So why didn’t that pan out?
DW: I always knew that I wanted to perform [onstage], and after college I worked at a lot of office jobs. They were a good place to work, but they just weren’t very fulfilling. I was like, “Man, I need to do something else.”

e: Is that when you gravitated toward comedy?
DW: I saw an article in a newspaper about a stand-up comedy class . . . I took the class, and three weeks later I was up onstage.

e: When did you first consider stand-up a viable career option?
DW: I don’t know if I still consider it a viable career option. [Laughs.] I think the first time I got onstage, I [knew] this is what I wanted to do.

e: Who were the comedians you looked up to when you first started out?

DW: When I first started out, [it was] Norm MacDonald. I always thought he was an extremely funny guy.

e: Your Twitter is hilarious, but I’ve always wondered if comedians had to tweet with discern. Are there any unspoken rules about tweeting something and then later incorporating it in your routine?
DW: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I think a lot of comedians use Twitter as a way to generate jokes. I feel I should use Twitter more. Tons of comedians [tweet] a bunch of stuff on it everyday, and I’m like, “Eh, I don’t know.” It’s something I just don’t think about that often.

e: Your act has become synonymous with your exclamation of “kaboom”– also the name of your live album. Were you ever hesitant about having a catchphrase? I mean look at J.J. Walker; decades later and he’s still known as the “dyn-o-mite guy.”
DW: I don’t really consider it a catchphrase. I just like to add extra words [in my jokes] to make them absurd.

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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