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Stand-up comedian Dan Cummins on continuing to write great jokes

click to enlarge Dan Cummins
  • Dan Cummins

Dan Cummins drives by Spokane's Spalding Auto Parts with his kids in the car. The business message board reads: "I'm in shape, round is a shape."

His kids say, "Dad, that's you!" and fall into a fit of laughter.

Cummins, 38, tells them he has been working out at the gym and he's losing weight. That makes them laugh harder — so hard that tears start to form.

This is a ripe-for-stand-up moment, Cummins says, similar to the time he witnessed a woman pee herself in line at Six Flags.

"I want to take something that's happened in real life that was super funny or uncomfortable and translate it to the stage," he says.

Cummins, who lives in Santa Monica, California, but plans to move to Coeur d'Alene to be closer to family, is one of the most successful comedians to come out of Spokane. He's performed on late-night TV and Comedy Central. Currently, he hosts The Playboy Morning Show, writes TV scripts and tours nationally. But he says it's stand-up he wants to do forever.

He continues to write great jokes, using a few techniques.

First, he writes as much as possible — about the stuff that recently happened to him and things he's always wondered about, like dinosaurs — making sure the payoff matches the setup. Then it's about having patience.

"Even if a joke goes well at first, it takes six months to really make a joke good," he says. "You have to write and review and edit. I don't value the opinion of the audience over my own. It can always be better." ♦

Dan Cummins opens for Brian Regan on Saturday, Feb. 13, at the Northern Quest Resort & Casino and headlines the Spokane Comedy Club July 28-30.

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