Blank Brings Carlin-esque Comedy To Gayville

GAYVILLE — Bill Blank has an addiction he hasn't been able to shake for the last 10 years: comedy.

Ever since the first time Blank got on stage to perform his act, he was hooked.

"I always wanted to do it, but it wasn't until I was 21 that I got up and stage, and I haven't stopped doing it since," Blank said. "I've been doing stand-up for 10 years, and I've been making a living doing it for the last five years."

Area residents will be able to take in Blank's no-nonsense humor when he performs at Wild Bill Cody's in Gayville at 9 p.m. Saturday.

It will be the first time in a year and a half that Wild Billy Cody's has hosted a comedian, according to the manager Al Harder.

However, the small-town atmosphere of Gayville doesn't discourage Blank, as he will perform in Kimball and Vale leading up to the event in Gayville.

"It's pretty cool. I like working with them, and I've had good experiences with the small towns so far," Blank said in a telephone interview with the Press & Dakotan this week. "You can have a good stand-up show anywhere if the set-up is right."

It may be Blank's first time in Gayville, but he is used to the area.

"I actually really love the area. I've been to Sioux Falls a bunch of times, and it's one of my favorite towns to perform in," he said.

In fact, Blank, who lives in Des Moines, Iowa, loves to perform in the Midwest, mainly because of the atmosphere of the crowds.

"I have a chip on my shoulder because if you are from the Midwest, you are some hayseed. My comedy isn't the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, and some people are disappointed by that," he said. "I like performing in the Midwest because they don't think that. I enjoy being around people who are intelligent, and we have some of the best schools in the Midwest."

"Plus people in the Midwest have attention spans, as well," Blank added.

Blank has a wide range of comedians who have influenced his comedy such as Louis C.K., David Cross, Eddie Murphy and Dave Chappelle. But one person who Blank lists as an influence may be a bit of a surprise — boxer Muhammad Ali.

"I think if (Muhammad) Ali wanted to be a stand-up comedian, he would've been the best ever; he was ridiculous and hilarious," Blank said. "His charisma was unbelievable, and I admired that. The rant he had in his fight with Joe Frazier was amazing."

Blank tries to bring the same type of charisma to his performance, but Ali wasn't his main influence. When he was a teenager, Blank witnessed the person who made him want to be a comic.

"When I was 16, I saw one of George Carlin's HBO specials, and that's when I decided that's what comedy is," he said. "He speaks his mind, and he is very logical. I am a very logical person when I write my jokes, too, but I really don't go as political as Carlin by any means."

It's not like Blank sits down and constantly thinks of jokes either. He walks around with a notepad and writes down the jokes whenever they strike him, instead of just brainstorming.

"The jokes creep in naturally. I am one of those guys that doesn't force themselves to write jokes," he said. "Stuff just pops into my head, and I write it down."

Blank's show will start at 9 p.m. on Saturday, and he will be putting on a show no matter how many people show up.

"I've had times that there have been only eight people, and you still do the show, because I am not leaving without my money," Blank said with a laugh. "Some of those shows end up being the best, because if you screw up, it was just eight people."

"But please come to the show," Blank said.

For more information and links to Blank's work, his website is www.billblank.com.

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