Comedian Eddie Pence recently attended his 20th high school reunion in Virginia. The experience was a bit of a brain scrambler for Pence, 38, who's appearing at the Comedy Club on State Aug. 2-4. To his surprise, many former classmates had been following his standup career over the years. Others, who had been unaware of his profession, quickly pulled out cellphones after hearing the news and began searching for videos of his performances.
There's no doubt that Pence has been successful. Currently living in Los Angeles, he's a favorite at the famous Improv Comedy Club and has made numerous high-profile television appearances, including Comedy Central's Live at Gotham and The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson. Other projects, such as a weekly appearance on Fox's Divorce Court, are currently in the works.
Inspired by physical comedians like Tim Conway and Gene Wilder, Pence's standup combines stories about his personal life with material that edges into the more silly and abstract. Whether he's battling hordes of imaginary Chihuahuas on stage or reminiscing about the first time he was kicked in the crotch, Pence creates vivid pictures using his body.
"I look in awe at comedians who can just stand there in front of a microphone and be successful," says Pence. "That takes a lot of talent. But I enjoy creating a space with my body. It helps me tell a story better."
Pence admits that the life of a comedian is not for everyone. Apart from the financial stresses (including making significantly less than what comedians at his level did just a decade ago), there is also the burden of spending a lot of time away from his wife and child.
But at least he's doing what he wants to do. As Pence says, "At the reunion, one classmate looked at one of my videos and said, 'You're a standup comedian? That's hilarious! You always were a smart-ass!' I wanted to say, 'What do you do? Work on air conditioners? That's great. Really great. Way to follow the dream.'"