By Wade Coggeshall
DANVILLE — Dave Dugan had no choice but to go into standup comedy.
“I discovered fairly early on that I did not have the same gift as my dad and his side of the family,” the Hoosier-born comic wrote via e-mail. Dugan’s father was a successful custom builder for 50 years before retiring. Dugan, however, isn’t even “handy.”
“On top of that, I'm not a good salesman type, have no engineering skills,” he wrote. “I very well could have fallen into comedy as a default. There was nowhere else to turn.”
So Dugan did what most aspiring comics do — moved to L.A. He carved out a career, but after marrying and starting a family the Midwest beckoned.
“The hometown with the grandparents and other family around seemed like the right place to be,” Dugan wrote. “It is more challenging to find the big breaks in comedy here that were readily available in California, but I really enjoy the theater shows and all the corporate/private events. I still miss the great West Coast weather though.”
Dugan’s comedy has always been versatile for a wide audience, meaning he generally keeps it clean. That’s certainly the case with his corporate gigs, which comprises a large part of Dugan’s schedule now. Club shows are a bit looser.
“I don't set out to be less than clean, but will adapt to the audiences' taste — at least to a point,” Dugan wrote. “Material that is somewhat suggestive or innuendo in small doses, as long as it's still creative, doesn't come across as offensive and a club audience sometimes expects at least a bit of this. But if I would just swear for swearing's sake, it wouldn't come across as natural, but instead like a guy who has some sort of affliction. Clean comedy is just more original (in most cases) so I typically stick with what I know, I guess.”
Dugan doesn’t just perform corporate gigs too. He’ll also portray “impostors,” which takes more prep work because he has to be convincing to company employees.
“Then the consultant, new hire, or whoever I am portraying to 'turn the company around' becomes progressively crazy with his ideas and concepts till pretty much everyone realizes it's a put-on,” he wrote.
Like many comedians, Dugan has been a regular on the Bob and Tom radio show for years. He’s best remembered for his gruff, politically-incorrect character Bart McCallister, who’s constantly making Sid Gurney (played by Whit Grayson) miserable.
“Twenty years later, the characters are still around and I am surprised at how many times people ask about them or even say that they are their favorite characters,” Dugan wrote. “Plus the bits are as fun to write as they are to perform.”
Performance like that have led Dugan into voice work too. You’ve probably heard his voice on promos that have aired on networks like ESPN and The History Channel.
“I like all the different directions the voice work can go in — straightforward and serious for one project, humorous for the next,” Dugan wrote. “The roles I like the most though are those that call for some acting.”
It helps when Dugan’s comedy background is factored in. Scripts have been adjusted accordingly, leading to more natural work.
“There's no better compliment than hearing, ‘I didn't know you could do that type of read,’ other than maybe ‘you have a great head of hair’ or ‘you don't smell bad at all’," Dugan wrote.
At this point there’s not much left that Dugan would like to try. Maybe fire-eating (“Is that comedy? It sure makes me laugh uncontrollably”). Or on a more serious note, writing books.
“That probably won't happen till my kids are grown up and I feel somewhat bored though,” Dugan wrote.
Visit the website DaveDuganComedy.com for more information.