Event: Valentine’s Day Comedy Date Night
featuring Killer Beaz
Date: Sunday, Feb. 14, at 6:30 p.m. and 8:15 p.m.
Venue: Azalea Manor, 751 Dauphin St., www.azaleamanormobile.com
Tickets: $20, available at www.killerbeaz.com
For many, Valentine’s Day can present a challenge looking for a unique way to proclaim their love. Candies, cards and flowers are the typical tokens of affection. However, a better impression may be achieved through creativity — such as the unique event at Azalea Manor guaranteed to put smiles on the faces of everyone in attendance.
Killer Beaz, Mobile’s reigning king of comedy, will perform the first-ever “Valentine’s Day Comedy Date Night” at Azalea Manor on Sunday, Feb. 14. The exclusive event with limited seating will begin with a sumptuous dinner catered by Naman’s. Afterwards, Killer Beaz will conjure up a wave of belly laughs with his hilarious brand of true Southern comedy from a modern perspective. According to Beaz, the lighthearted nature of Valentine’s Day should be complementary to his comedy.
“Valentine’s is a fun date night, so I’ll have a good time talking about my wife,” Beaz said. “I refer to her as ‘Corporate.’ So, I’ll be talking about Corporate.”
Beaz has not always been a denizen of the Azalea City. Born in Jackson, Mississippi, he decided to pursue a career in comedy in the early ‘80s. However, he describes the Southern comedy circuit at that time as essentially nonexistent. Beaz found an outlet a few hours away in Nashville at Zany’s Comedy Club, a venue in which he has performed more than any other comedian. In addition to Zany’s, Beaz found another creative outlet that was beginning to grow in popularity.
“At that time, there was a lot of TV and stuff going on in Nashville, and you didn’t have to go to L.A. or New York and get in a big long line,” Beaz said. “With my accent, they just loved me.”
With a little help from The Nashville Network (TNN), Beaz’s Southern-fried comedy began to spread nationwide. A mention in Rolling Stone and on “Entertainment Tonight” opened up a plethora of touring dates for the up-and-coming comedian. Beaz began to spread chuckles throughout the nation on a comedy circuit that included notables such as Drew Carey and Steve Harvey, one that routed comedians from Atlanta into Birmingham and Mobile.
According to Beaz, Mobile’s comedy scene at that time consisted solely of a comedy club franchise out of Atlanta called The Punchline, which eventually transformed into the Mobile Comedy Lounge.
As he toured, Beaz concocted a style of Southern comedy that has been embraced by icons such as Andy Griffith and Jerry Clower. Verbal prowess is mingled with the illusion of simplicity, which is amplified by the Southern accent. The stereotypical view of the dumb Southern personality is annihilated by clever insights and wordplay. Beaz sees this aspect of Southern comedy as contributing to its popularity.
“All the good Southern comics are really smart,” Beaz said. “I’m the dumbest one out there, and I’m pretty badass. I think it’s such a surprise to them for the stereotype to be kicked and for them to go, ‘Holy crap!’ Something inside them is impressed when it happens. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be doing it. They’re all ready to make fun like it’s ‘Dukes of Hazzard,’ but then they see that there’s substance.”
Beaz’s musical connection also helped build his comedic reputation. Over the years he has opened for musical acts such as B.B. King and Marshall Tucker. However, the concert environment isn’t conducive to stand-up comedy, he said. While the closed environment of a closed venue hall works for comedy, Beaz said open-air festivals are full of distractions stealing from the comedian onstage.
“They’re not there to see a comedian,” Beaz said. “They’re there to hear big guitar riffs and stuff. They wanna hear ‘Freebird.’”
Beaz’s biggest connection to the music world is Lynyrd Skynyrd. The band and the comedian were both performing in Birmingham on the same night, as well as staying at the same hotel. They all met in the hotel parking lot when the members of Lynyrd Skynyrd recognized him from appearances on TNN. Since the two entities were performing on the same night, the band requested Beaz record his set for them. In addition to taping his set, Beaz had the audience send greetings to the band.
Afterwards, the Skynyrd camp stayed in touch with Beaz, and even served as his backing band for his song “Save Up,” which has its roots in the comedian’s trademark catchphrase.
“What kills me is that people who are professional in the performing arts have so much respect and admiration for people in other performing arts,” Beaz said. “Skynyrd thought that what I did was the sh*t. Johnny Van Zandt and Gary Rossington were like, ‘How do you do that? How do you remember all that stuff?’”
In recent years, Beaz’s touring schedule may have slowed a little, but his comedy has not. In 2013, he released the album “Don’t Ever Touch Anybody You Don’t Know” through Warner Brothers. He has also performed on comedy cruises and makes regular calls into a variety of radio shows.
Last year at the Wild West Comedy Festival, Beaz helped beat the world record for the “Longest Continuous Comedy Show,” which ran nonstop for 187 hours. With Mobile’s growing comedy scene, Beaz is also known for showing up at The Blind Mule’s comedy shows to experiment with new material. As far as local comedy, Beaz thinks it’s time the local scene takes the next step.
“I think the comedy scene in Mobile needs a steady, professional club or a gig that brings nationally touring guys through consistently,” Beaz said. “Otherwise the open-mic’ers don’t have the bar set real high. That’s the one thing about doing it on your own. The bar doesn’t get set, so you have to strive. It makes you work and not accept where you’re at.”