Crunching numbers isn’t funny. That’s why just over nine years ago then accountant Gene Renfroe left the corporate world to become a comedian in the cutthroat world of stand-up comedy.
Today, Renfroe, 51, works as a touring comic through the states. He’s shared the stage with Dwight Slade, Wendy Leibman, Darryl Lenox, Thea Vidale and the late Richard Jeni. His TV credits include appearances in ABC Family’s “My Life as a Sitcom” and NBC show “Starting Over.”
Now Renfroe makes his Sandusky debut as part of A Night of Comedy, which also includes Chris Smith, taking place Dec. 28 at the State Theatre. Funcoast talked to Chicago resident Renfroe about his comedy stylings and why folks may want to wear a toga to the show.
Want to go?
WHAT: A Night of Comedy
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 28
WHERE: Sandusky State Theatre, 107 Columbus Ave., Sandusky
INFO: Call 419-626-1950 or visit www.sanduskystate.com
Funcoast: So how exactly does one go from being an accountant to a stand-up comedian?
Gene Renfroe (GR): I was a corporate accountant for 20 years. Then I decided to start doing stand-up and haven’t looked back. I got laid off and after 20 years of being a corporate accountant I lost some of my soul. I was watching an open mic and that’s when I realized I should be on stage. Years later I got on stage, did four minutes and the rest is history.
Funcoast: So we’re guessing you were the smart-ass accountant making inappropriate jokes during meetings?
GR: I thought they were funny [laughs]. I was a funny accountant but accountants normally didn’t get me.
Funcoast: So the first time you went on stage at an open-mic night, how bad did it go?
GR: That was in July 2003 and the first few minutes went great. The last minute was horrible. I was like al-Qaeda, dropping bombs everywhere but it was too late. I was addicted to the clap.
Funcoast: Comparatively speaking, what style is your comedy?
GR: I like to speak the truth like Bernie Mac, but I also like to be a little dirty. I’m a storyteller. I tell stories people can relate to and I find the fun in everything. I’ll be talking about raising my daughter and son, as well as being married 26 years and having a girlfriend.
Funcoast: You have a girlfriend and you’re still married?
GR: Yes. My life is complicated. [laughs]
Funcoast: Looking ahead, are you thinking about a career in Hollywood as an actor or remaining on the road as a comedian?
GR: I love being a saloon comic. That’s it. Hollywood is going to offer me very few choices because I’m light skinned and I’m 51 years old. So the only thing I can really do is play the father of The Rock or Vin Diesel in an action movie. TV would be nice only in the fact it would help people know my name to get more into my shows.
Funcoast: Your bio material has a quote that says, “Funny does not have to be vulgar.” What does that mean?
GR: You see a lot of these guys like to do shock comedy, where they’re just talking about the nastiness and grossest things, and that’s not necessarily funny. The funny things to me are the realest things. It’s things people can relate to and you need to talk about. Don’t get me wrong, I still talk about adult subject matter but it’s not shock comedy.
Funcoast: Finally, what are you promising audiences who take in your upcoming show in Sandusky?
GR: Fun, laughter, hilarity and orgies.
Funcoast: Hmm, should we wear a toga?
GR: That might be easier.