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Comedy comes to Kokomo

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Local comedian Dan West will take the stage at Cook McDougal’s Irish Pub, 100 N. Main St., Saturday, Oct. 9, for an evening of standup comedy.

West is a military veteran who worked as Army intelligence until he was medically discharged in 2008, having been injured “somewhere between Mosul and Baghdad” in Iraq, he said.

“Now I goof off,” West said.

Joining him on stage are Jamie Shriner (Chicago), Lynett Thomas (Fort Wayne), Julie Heckman (Fort Wayne) and Dyke Michaels (Indianapolis).

West has only recently returned to indoor performances, choosing to do outdoor shows and to perform online early in the pandemic.

“Getting to do these indoors shows, the energy is almost frantic,” he said. “I did a show at the Helium Comedy Club [in Indianapolis] and it was a Wednesday night and over 100 people showed up and they were so ready to have a good time. People want [live performances] more. This is going to sound very arrogant, but live performance is a gift. And audiences have kind of reset and realized that it is a gift.”

It’s not arrogant. If anyone has strolled through one of their social media accounts in the last couple of months, one is sure to have seen an exuberant post from an acquaintance who just attended a first concert since the pandemic stopped live shows. Seeing a live performance is a gift, and audiences have come to understand that.

West jokingly says he turned to drinking to cope with COVID but admits he was very fortunate compared to others. Though he was furloughed from his job, his military benefits kept him in a safe place and even allowed for him to take a detour in life and return to school at IU Kokomo in an attempt to complete a college career he abandoned a decade ago. He’s now majoring in public relations with a minor in psychology.

Until he had the epiphany that he could return to school, he played “Dungeons & Dungeons” with friends on Zoom. West’s chosen character class is a bard and his current character, Bob, is also a level two cleric in the Holy Church of Ronnie James Dio. Bob’s unusual backstory involves him being warped into the fantasy world as he tried to bond with his son while playing the roleplaying game.

He also tackled the Super Nintendo classic video game “Super Metroid,” not exactly the most soothing option during a stressful pandemic.

“Two hours in my jaw was just clenched. I was approaching this game the same way I approached class,” he said. “I’m not good at relaxing.”

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West is most likely to draw from his own life experiences and interests for his comedy set. He likes to stay out of politics and is more likely to go on a diatribe about Disney films than nuclear proliferation, he said.

One particular moment in Disney’s cartoon adaptation of “Aladdin” that burns West is when the title character is running away from guards only to be grabbed in an embrace by an overweight woman, which his response suggests is a worse fate than imprisonment.

“The entire message of ‘Aladdin’ is it’s not what’s on the outside but on the inside, unless you are a fat chick because gross,” West said.

“I try to take familiar things that people know and go in a different direction with it,” he said.

Early in his career, which began at an open mic three weeks after leaving the military, he tried to tell jokes based on some of his dark experiences while serving in Iraq. He failed miserably.

“It turns out that military catharsis stories don’t translate well to a room full of civilians on a Tuesday night,” West said.

He said he has now been at comedy long enough that he will have to do a deep internet scrubbing if he ever wants to get a grownup job.

Despite avoiding politics, West provides masks for any of his audience members who might want one. He also encourages everyone to join him in getting vaccinated. At a show in Evansville he offered free admission to those who showed their vaccine card at the door.

This will be West’s first Kokomo performance since January 2020.

“There was a whole world falling apart in between,” he said of then and his upcoming show.

“It’s going to be a very different show for anyone who has ever seen me before,” said West. But he is excited about the diverse lineup of comedians and the stories they will have to share with the audience."

Tickets for the performance are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. Doors open at 7 p.m. with performances beginning at 8 p.m.