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Five questions: Sam Adams

From clerking to sports writing to stand-up comedy


Parker residents may be surprised to learn one of their neighbors is a veteran Midwestern comedian who worked his way up from a clerical position to the world of entertainment.

Sam Adams, 57, moved to the Stonegate Metropolitan District 11 years ago. He first moved to Denver from Ohio in 1986, working as a clerk for an insurance company, a job in ready supply at the time, before working his way into covering sports at The Denver Post, then at the Rocky Mountain News, covering everything from high school sports to the Denver Broncos and the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.

Not long after becoming a journalist, Adams tried his hand at standup comedy and got hooked on making audiences laugh. Now in his 16th year behind the mic, Adams recently opened for nationally known funnyman Sinbad and is a regular entertainer and emcee for events in Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming and Utah.

How did you go from being a clerk at an insurance company to writing for The Denver Post?

I started writing a sports newsletter on my own on lunch breaks. I made copies and just passed them around to my buddies at work. We were like sports geeks. One of my co-workers said "if you know so much, why don't you work for a newspaper?"

I went from working at the Tech Center to the 16th Street Mall, and one day I was going to Arby's and saw The Denver Post building across the street, and I remembered what (he) said. I had kept a couple things I had written and just went in to see what would happen.

What came next?

In 1990 there was an opening for the Nuggets beat. I didn't have a journalism degree, but the guys were encouraging me to put in for it.

Woody Paige was the deputy sports editor at the time. He said, "I like what you're doing kid, but don't quit your day job." I told myself, "I'll show him," and I quit my day job. He started me out as a freelancer, and I started doing feature stories about local players with interesting backgrounds.

Eventually, Woody said "I'm just going to hire this guy because we're paying him more for his freelancing than we would if he was a staff writer."

How did you break into comedy?

On May 15, 2001, I did an open mic night at the Comedy Works. I didn't bomb, I didn't dazzle them, but I got applause.

Around 2006 I started doing more open mics, taking it more seriously. I was cutting my teeth from about 2006 to 2007 touring clubs whenever I had accrued enough time off, or if I could write my column at night in my hotel.

I still didn't think I would quit my day job, but then the Rocky closed, so my day job quit me.

What's your take on doing political comedy these days?

It's amazing how one election has changed everything.

I think about what makes people laugh, like, why are you going to a comedy club? Me, I don't want a 15-minute speech about politics. You can't please everybody, but you have to realize: "are people coming to get jokes about it or to get away from it?"

I want people to feel comfortable. I never have been a political comedian, so why start now? I still have my political views, I just don't bring them to work.

What's the toughest part of the job?

For me it's about coming up with and sharpening my material so that it isn't just making people laugh, it's making them laugh hard. I'll jab you like Muhammad Ali, but I want my punchline to knock you out like Mike Tyson.

Another thing is when people know you're a comedian, they think you're just "on" all the time. I always say "I am not funny in real life."

But for some reason, when the lights go on, and the crowd is there, the fear of not being funny just carries me through.

For more information on Adams and a sample of his performances, visit his website: samadamscomedy.com.


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