Ryan Johnson, Published March 02 2014
Making a Scene: Provorse works through issues for laughs at Prime Comedy Club
Then 27, Jeremiah Daniel Provorse had gotten into comedy after discovering George Carlin in his teens. He had thought about trying it, always putting it off because of nerves – until he had nothing left to lose.
“I just thought, ‘Well, things are really, really rough right now, and I don’t think I could possibly feel any worse, so now’s the time to go out and try it because if it doesn’t go well, you’re not going to feel it right now,’ ” he said. “Luckily, the first joke I told the first time I was on stage I got a laugh, and I was hooked.”
Provorse has long since retired that joke – he got up and asked the crowd “Do these pants make me look fat?” But the now-33-year-old has continued to rely on self-deprecating humor about his weight, being a nerd or striking out with the ladies to make audiences laugh.
He started a new day job in December in the marketing department of Fargo-based online retailer International Marketing Systems. In February, Provorse got another kind of opportunity when he was tapped to serve as emcee of The Hub’s new Prime Comedy Club.
The venue brings in comedians for sets on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, and also hosts a Sunday matinee open-mic event free to the public. For more information and a full lineup of shows, visit www.primecomedyfargo.com.
Were you the funny guy growing up?
No, but I tried to be. I always felt kind of like a goof, not so much in school. I was not even remotely popular or the class clown or anything at all.
I moved around a bit when I was younger, so I didn’t really start to develop a tightknit circle of friends until junior high. But from there, I was fortunate enough to be in a group of really talented and really clever, funny guys. I look at them, and every one of those guys is funnier than I am, and I’m the one doing stand-up comedy.
But I always tried to be lighthearted and laugh at things. People say comedy’s like therapy, and I think that’s absolutely right for both the audience and the performer in a lot of different ways.
I’ve just always tried to be funny, and it was something that I thought I might be able to do. But no, I never really stood out by any means. I definitely goofed off a lot, but not necessarily to the greatest of reaction.
Why do you like self-deprecating humor?
In a lot of ways, I’m too afraid to poke fun of other people. I’m kind of a weenie, kind of a wimp, and a lot of it is just I’m not really a confrontational kind of guy.
It’s easier to make it personal that way, too. There’s a lot of guys who can sort of get a feeling for how to put a joke together or how to make a funny story, but regardless of what your life is, what really sets the really popular and the really successful guys apart is how personal it is and how honest it is.
It’s sort of that same idea. Those happen to be my issues, so that’s what we’re going to talk about. Ultimately you try to get to a place where it’s like these might not necessarily be your issues, but you’re still a person with issues and you maybe can relate to something like that.
Do you have a particular goal or anything you want the audience to think about?
No, not yet anyway. I’m not trying to push any kind of a message. My only goal is that we get to the end and everybody laughed a lot and had a good time.
A big part of the value of comedy is as a distraction, just to get away from things for a little while. Right now, my only goal is that more people have fun than don’t.
What do you think of the new Prime Comedy Club?
I think it’s a great little room. It seats about 100 or 110 people, and they did a really good job of laying the room out and where the stage is placed so there are good sightlines there.
The staff there is incredible, and the guys who run The Hub have been really accommodating.
There have been some good opportunities and good options for comedy in Fargo, and Courtney’s Comedy Club is over in Moorhead. That’s where I got started, that’s home to me, and I love that room. From my discussions with them, their attitude and our attitude is the same. We don’t feel like anybody’s in competition with anybody. We’re all comedy fans, and anything that’s good for comedy in this town is good for all of us.
I’m focused on Prime right now, at least for the next couple of months. I’m putting road work and traveling around on hold for a little while so I can help get them established.
At some point, I am going to start getting back out again and we’re going to start bringing some more local guys in to do some emcee work at Prime.
In addition to emceeing the shows there, I also do most of the booking for the room. Jade (Nielsen) handles a lot of the big special events, but I handle a lot of the week-to-week booking, so we’re just trying to keep a really good lineup. What we’re sort of looking at is comics you might not necessarily have heard of, but they’re up-and-coming names that you definitely will be hearing more from in the next couple of years.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan Johnson at (701) 241-5587