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John Lamb, Published February 12 2014

Look who's laughing now: West Fargo graduate returns to headline comedy club opening

FARGO - Amber Preston just moved to Los Angeles a month ago, but she’s prepared for this weekend’s return visit to Fargo.

“It’s only been a month. I haven’t gone soft that quickly,” she says from outside a L.A. coffee shop. “My dad would be pleased I still have my snow boots in my trunk.”

It’s work, not the weather, which brings Preston back. The comedian headlines the opening of the new Prime Comedy Club at The Hub.

“I’m more excited than nervous,” she says about a hometown show and being the first act at the latest of The Hub’s incarnations.

Nerves aren’t an issue for Preston, whose stand-up career has been a full time job for three years. She hopes her recent move from Minneapolis to L.A. opens the doors for more work.

She moved to Minneapolis after graduating from West Fargo High School in 1996. Her parents, George and Jackie, still live in Horace, N.D.

She attended University of Minnesota and studied theater, but after school was drawn more to comedy clubs than theaters.

“I was always a stand-up fan so I decided to give it a try and I was hooked from the get-go,” she says. “Before you know it you’re giving up your office desk job to go out on the road for three months… I’ve driven around Lake Michigan more times than one human being should have.”

The desk job was working for an investment banker, an experience that kept her grounded while she got her stage legs.

“It’s kind of as far from this world as you could get,” she says of the corporate gig.

While she moved on after high school, she credits her Midwestern roots, work ethic and education with giving her a good foundation.

“I can’t speak highly enough of Trollwood,” she says of her summer theater experiences. “As a student it made you realize that you could actually have a job in the arts. I don’t know if my parents would say the same thing.”

Though she didn’t get into stand-up until after Trollwood, she says the program got her used to performing in front of crowds.

“I definitely felt more comfortable on the stage. I was the one where the jokes didn’t come right away, but I knew what end of the microphone to talk into, so that was half the battle,” she says of her early stand-up sets.

Since focusing more on her stand-up, Preston has been back about once a year for shorter sets at Courtney’s Comedy Club, Big D’s or the Fargo Fest in the fall of 2012.

“I think Fargo-Moorhead can absolutely handle two clubs,” she says of Prime now competing with Courtney’s. “There’s always something to do. It’s like the price of a movie but more fun. These winters it’s always nice to go inside and have a laugh and get warm.”

Even the comics feel the love on Valentine’s Day, she says, adding that whether it’s a crowd of lovers or haters, they’re all there to laugh.

“I’ll take Valentine’s Day over lots of other holidays,” she says. “I’d rather work Valentine’s Day than Halloween or St. Patrick’s Day. People aren’t generally fall-down drunk on Valentine’s Day. Generally.”

Comedy clubs are a great option for dates and she assures she’ll play nice with the crowd.

“I don’t pick on people so people can be safe,” she explains.

So, you can take the girl out of Fargo, but you can’t take the Fargo Nice out of the girl?

“Exactly. I’ll talk about you behind your back but I won’t pick on you in front of people,” she says.

If You Go

WHAT: Amber Preston

WHEN: 8 and 10:30 p.m. shows Friday and Saturday

where: Prime Comedy Club at The Hub, 2525 9th Ave. S., Fargo

info: Tickets for this ID-only show are $10 in advance, $12 the day of the show, plus applicable fees. (866) 300-8300. www.primecomedyfargo.com

Upcoming at Prime Comedy Club

Feb. 20 – Mick Foley

Feb. 21 & 22 – Brandt Tobler

Feb. 27-March 1 – Chad Daniels

March 6-8 – Cy Amundson

March 13-15 - Andrew Sleighter

March 20-22 – Mike Merryfield

March 27-29 – Tim Harmston

Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533