by Ryan Meehan
For over 30 years Todd Yohn’s high energy, non-stop act has blended stand-up, improv, and music into one deliciously stimulating show. His fresh and clever original comedy tunes such as “The Feminine Hygiene Song” “Daddy Please Don’t Go” and the very popular ” Orange Barrels” have separated Todd from the “other ” guitar playing comedy acts. Todd has been an accomplished musician for many years and still has a songwriting deal with MCA Publishing in Nashville, Tennessee. He is one of the few performers today who has the rare ability to produce large amounts of laughter with the lift of an eye brow or droop of the lip. Todd’s combination of material, uncanny sense of timing and his complete uniqueness of personality, has earned him the reputation as one of the best club comedians in the country. As a matter of fact, Tom Griswald of the nationally syndicated morning radio show “Bob and Tom” has said that, “Todd Yohn is, by far, the funniest live comedian show anyone will ever see”. And he’s our guest today in 5 Questions.
FOH: What was it like for you the first time that you did standup? What about that experience made you want to do it the second time?
TY: The first time I got up in front of people to be funny was in high school for a talent show. I did impressions of certain faculty that made the principal fall out of his seat laughing… It later led to me getting out of detention because he liked it so much… When I found out you could actually get paid to make people laugh, I never looked back. Nothing has ever given me the high that I get from making a crowd of people laugh.
FOH: Do you usually travel with one electric and one acoustic for your music material? What’s your gear setup as far as amplification goes? Have you picked any new guitars as of late?
TY: I used to use an acoustic electric for many years… They plugged right into the system and if there was no jack I could just go straight acoustic… I broke two little bone at the tip of my left ring finger and that switched me to electric because it was easier to push on the strings.. Never went back and glad of it because the road really beats on an acoustic guitar. I usually just plug into the house PA. But carry I little amp just in case. I am actually having a custom made Stratocaster being built as we speak. Done exactly to spec of Fender but made by a young man out of Terre Haute Indiana. His name is Troy Studey. It will be a Studey Toddocaster! Serial number# 000001!! Go to Facebook and search GTR Studey-O and you’ll see my axe getting made from scratch!! Can’t wait!!!
FOH: Over the past month or so there seem to be a lot of heckler-related incidents that have made national news. Do you think that there needs to be more done in these clubs regarding crowd control? What’s the best way that you’ve found to be effective when it comes to disarming a heckler, especially one who’s drunk?
TY: A lot of clubs don’t do enough about hecklers because they are afraid to kick people out and lose business…But They actually lose more of the good people because they don’t want to come back to a rowdy place… The best clubs in the country like Hyenas in Dallas and Ft. Worth and the Loony Bin in ok City and Wylye’s in Dayton have their audiences trained because early on they had a no heckle policy . If you heckled you were gone. More clubs should do this. There are too many different ways to handle a heckler to chat about now because there are many different types of hecklers. But for the youngbloods…….if you get in the weeds with a heckler let the management know from the stage that this person is a problem and let them handle it.
FOH: I noticed that there seem to be a lot of “comedy training courses” popping up in major cities like LA, New York, and Chicago. Do you think that there are people out there that have a genuine desire to succeed at standup but just can’t be taught? How much of being able to do standup is inherent, or is it just situation specific?
TY: I actually have been teaching comedy colleges across the country and they are extremely helpful for young upcoming comics. Anyone can be taught how to deliver a joke but it takes time and practice to get good. Some will be better than others… As with anything in this world. The problem with some of these “schools” is that a lot are taught by people who aren’t really comics or weren’t very good at it and don’t understand the art of comedy. This lends itself to the student learning the business and art of comedy the wrong way and does more harm than good. Best to get a seasoned comedian to teach what’s out there in the real world of comedy on the road.
FOH: Because certain portions of your act are based on your facial expressions and your behavior, one might classify you as a “physical comedian”. But unlike many comedians classified as such, you’ve been able to translate your comedy to radio very well having great success with your songs on radio programs like the Bob and Tom show. Were you initially nervous as to how those bits were going to go over the first time that you walked into that building with your guitar? Has your approach to performing on shows like that changed now that most radio shows are captured on video or webcam?
TY: It was a little nerve racking at first… But the music and lyrics stand on their own and my facial expressions were just a little extra umph for a live show. But always would rather a camera be there than just my wit… Cause God knows…I’m not the most clever guy out there!!
FOH: You’ve been doing this for well over twenty years. What’s the most bizarre thing that’s happened to you while being on the road as a professional touring standup comedian? The most inspiring?
TY: The most bizarre was .. A man had a full blown heart attack in the middle of my show… 4th row center… E.M.T.s were there working on him as I sat on the stool on stage watching like anyone else… When they took the man out the club manager had sent me a message to finish my set which had 30 more minutes to go…. Bizarre to say the least! Most inspiring was I had a lady who had not been out of the house in 9 months(according to her daughters) because her husband had passed away and reluctantly came to my show.. At the end she came up to me with tears in her eyes and said.. ” I haven’t smiled in 9 months, much less laugh..-and she hugged me and said thank you! That’s what it’s all about to me!! By the way it’s been over 30 years…(I really need a new bio!!!)
FOH: During your shows, you always take a break from comedy and do a shot for the troops. Have you gotten the chance to perform at any military bases in your career? What’s the most important part of reminding the audience about the sacrifice that these individuals make so that we can go about our everyday lives?
TY: Done many USO tours…Japan,Korea, Germany, and played a lot of American bases as well!! You answered the second part of the question yourself…
FOH: What’s next for Todd Yohn in the twelve months to follow? Any big plans?
TY: Started a new funk band at home and want to take it on the road… I’ll keep you posted!!!!
Todd on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/todd.yohn.1
Once again thanks for visiting First Order Historians and enjoying more of the internet’s finest in user generated content.