By Jason Tanamor
“You know what makes good crowds? Funny Comedians. That's a tip from your uncle Lar.”
Another tip from Uncle Lar is this. “Everyone should drink. Alcohol is taxed and the money goes to schools,” Reeb said. “So drink up. You’re not a drunk, you’re an education provider.”
Larry Reeb, better known across stages as Uncle Lar, dishes out tips and one-liners to audiences throughout the United States. “I was working at an amusement park in the day, while I did stand-up at night,” Reeb said. “Everyone working there was like 15, so they started calling me Uncle Lar. On stage, after a joke I threw in, ‘That’s a tip from your Uncle Lar,’ and it stuck.”
Having said this, Larry Reeb does have jokes with his advice. In fact, he mixes up each show with new material. “I just do my thing but if it’s an older crowd I will clean it up a little bit,” Reeb said. And if he doesn’t think the material is working, he has a unique way of parting with the less than spectacular jokes. “I try a new joke 4 or 5 times. I try wording it in different ways then if it still doesn't work, I sell it to a new comedian.”
He’s kidding of course. Unless there are some takers.
Reeb, a nationally touring comedian for much of his life, has done everything from radio to television. “I haven't had a day job since 1979. As long as I can make a living doing comedy. I'm a happy guy,” Reeb said.
And for being happy, Reeb doesn’t mind the traveling around part of being a road comic. “I like traveling and I like being alone. But please don't tell my wife I said that,” Reeb said. Although the comedian is very direct and soft-spoken during an interview, Reeb’s sharp wit on stage is built to handle any crowd, including hecklers. During a certain performance, an intoxicated patron shouted, “talk about sex!” Reeb retorted, “your parents shouldn’t have had it.” Of course, he followed this with his trademark saying, “that’s another tip from your Uncle Lar.”
But that isn’t the performance that stands out to Reeb. At a club in Nashville, Reeb was working with another comedian, Ron Douglas. “After the show, Ron went out and drank a lot of vodka,” Reeb said. “He was an alcoholic and the next day, he was found dead. The next week’s comedian called and I told him that Douglas died. Reeb asked, ‘But how did you do?’”
Reeb began his career in Chicago, where he still lives today, at the Comedy Womb, slogan, “Where Comedians Are Born.” “It’s not there anymore,” Reeb said. He did odd jobs while working the clubs at night until in 1979, he managed to do stand-up comedy full time. “I never went to college, if I weren’t doing comedy I’d probably be driving a cab or flipping burgers,” Reeb said. “Any day I don’t have a day job, I’m happy.”
And he’s been happy for a long time. Not bad for a man who decided to become a comedian when he was in high-school. “When I was 15, I was in a speech class in high-school. We could do the speech on anything so I wrote a humorous one and it got laughs,” Reeb said. “The material gets harder as you get older, but you have to sit down and do it. You either know how to do it or don’t.”
Reeb is a regular on the nationally syndicated radio program, “The Bob & Tom Show” and has appeared on HBO, SHOWTIME, VH1, and MTV. His live comedy CD, “It’s a Sick World and I’m a Happy Guy,” is available after his show.
Jason Tanamor is the Editor of Zoiks! Online. He is also the author of the novels, "Hello Lesbian!" and "Anonymous."
By Jason Tanamor