A welcome distraction

Dan Grueter at Dayton Funny Bone

By Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin

Photo: Dan Grueter will perform at Dayton Funnybone Dec. 18-21

Comedian Dan Grueter wants to offer you a reprieve from your daily toils. He’s taken his homegrown brand of comedy on the likes of the Late Late Show and The Bob & Tom Show, where he made such an impression they included him on their comedy album Gimme an “F”. The Ohio State University alumnus even had the opportunity to air his loyalties on the HBO documentary Michigan vs. Ohio State: The Rivalry. Originally from northeast Ohio, Dan spent some of his childhood in Dayton, where his family lived down the street from Erma Bombeck. Dan currently lives in Southern California with his wife and two boys. The downside? It’s too warm there to wear bulky coats and sweaters to hide personal bulk.

Possibly as an excuse to don a parka, Dan will be coming through Dayton Funny Bone, with sets on Dec. 18 through Dec. 21. He recently took some time to chat with Dayton City Paper about how the times are changing and the simple solution to avoiding stress in the digital age.

It’s pretty cold in Ohio right now. Can you tell us something horrible about living in Los Angeles so we don’t feel so bad?

There are some awful, awful things. Sometimes in summer here, the electric bill gets high because you’re running the air conditioner so much. … Christmas Day, when it’s 85 and sunny, it’s hard to be in the Christmas spirit when it’s really hot out. And sometimes your house shakes from earthquakes, but other than that … [laughs] I miss autumn. Sometimes I’d like a cold day. I always go hunting when I’m out there, with some old college buddies. We go out to this place called Buckeye Pheasants, and we have a pheasant shoot, which is nice. – Dan Grueter

You draw a lot from your family in your comedy.

The first part of my act is about the family I grew up with, and the second part of my act is pretty much about the family that I’m raising right now. I would say, if you were to cut the act in half, that’s what you would get: past and present. – DG

Is there anything that’s off limits? Or is it open season on the life of Dan?

Nothing is off limits. Nothing. – DG

You’re rather conservative about your online presence.

You know, I’m right at the generation where, begrudgingly, I’ve embraced social media. … I’m afraid [social media] is breeding a very narcissistic generation. You know what I’m saying? It’s almost like there’s so much celebrity now without merit. I don’t want to sound like a snob or anything, but there are a lot of very famous people who aren’t really talented at anything. – DG

I feel like they know that.

They do know that, and they’re scared to death. I’ve seen them booked at clubs, you know, and then they get on stage and they go, “Oh my god, I don’t have any talent. What am I going to do now for 45 minutes?” The original celebrities, from the ’50s and ’60s, all those folks came from vaudeville and theater or movies, and they did it every day of their lives. They were so talented, and they lasted so long. I mean, most of them performed up to their death[s]. Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Dean Martin – these guys, they performed all the way into the grave because they had so much juice. They had so much talent. They knew how to work an audience. They knew how to do stuff. I know that there are acts [today] that have been booked just because they have 15,000 people on their Twitter account or something. I’m just like, “Are they funny? Do they have an act or can they sing?” It’s not just comedy, you know. … In some ways, social media has been a great thing. I mean, I’m in touch with friends and buddies, these people you thought you’d never see again. The self-absorption of Twitter, or something like that, that kind of turns me off a little bit. But it has shaped the industry, yes. The benefits with it – you can go directly to your demographic, you can go directly to the people who are going to pay tickets to come out and see your show. – DG

Those are the people that are probably chastising you for not having more out there!

Right? – DG

Does it worry you, watching your kids grow up in this digital world?

I grew up, like a Saturday in the summer, I would leave at 10 in the morning and be home for dinner. I’m in the woods or in the creek or something. My parents had no idea where I was, and they weren’t worried at all. You know, be home by 5:30 for dinner. I don’t think my kids have ever left my yard without the parents. And so now I almost look at the Internet the same way. They have Xbox they can go online with. They have the Wii, PlayStation they can go online with and play games with strangers. They’re not doing that. They beg for smartphones. They’re not even 10 years old! I’m like, “You’re not getting a smartphone. [laughs] Who do you know that you need to be in constant contact with?” They’re gonna see them every day in their little class in school. There’s all this cyber-bullying and stuff like that. Well, they can’t be bullied if they don’t have the device to read the bad remarks. – DG

That’s a good point.

I mean, you can’t hurt somebody if they don’t read it. – DG

Is the solution that easy?!

I think the solution is that easy. I don’t know, I don’t think kids should have that. There are so many distractions. Why would you give them a, this is not what my show’s about, by the way, but why would you give them a device that just adds more stress? Why add stress to life like that? – DG

That’s a lot to think about.

There’s a lot of problems in life. That’s why people go to comedy clubs. I am merely a distraction. I was put on this earth to distract people from the hell that is social media. – DG

And thank you for that. Has that always been your goal, to distract people?

I have been distracting people all my life. “He’s a distraction.” That’s on most of my report cards. “Bothers other people.” Yes. I’m looking forward to being [in Dayton]. I always have a good time there. – DG

Dan Grueter will perform on Thursday, Dec. 18 through Sunday, Dec. 21 at Dayton Funny Bone, 88 Plum Street at The Greene. For tickets, please visit funnybone.com. For more about Dan, visit dangrueter.com.

Reach DCP freelance writer Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin at JenniferHanauerLumpkin@DaytonCityPaper.com. To read more from Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin, visit her website at jennerlumpkin.com.

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About Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin

View all posts by Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin
Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin is a writer and amateur cartographer living in Dayton, Ohio. She has been a member of PUSH (Professionals United for Sexual Health) since 2012 and is currently serving as Chair. She can be reached at JenniferHanauerLumpkin@DaytonCityPaper.com or through her website at jennerlumpkin.com.

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