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Cummins jokes his way to national spotlight

Sat., June 14, 2008

The Minneapolis audience giggled nonstop as the Millwood man joked about his dream pet, a “squirrelador” – part Labrador, part squirrel.

“Because in my mind he’d be able to do all the cool lab stuff like swim and catch Frisbee, and all the cool squirrel stuff like walk on power lines and water ski,” said Dan Cummins during his audition Thursday on NBC’s “Last Comic Standing.” “That’s beautiful for a 90-pound rodent.”

Cummins’ two-minute bit landed him a spot in the semifinals of the nationally broadcast stand-up comedy reality show. This is the second time the local comic has tried out for the show but the first time he made it past the initial round. But Cummins can’t say how far he goes on the show.

This time around, Cummins’ comedy and face were widely broadcast via commercials before the show even aired. The 31-year-old was teased in ads talking about the town he grew up in – Riggins, Idaho, which is about 150 miles north of Boise.

In the ad spot, Cummins talked about how unfair it would be to raise his children in a remote rural setting. “Now I’m always hearing that small towns are great places to raise your kinds. That’s only if you hate your kids. Hey Kyler, want to go to Chuck E. Cheese’s, Toys ‘R’ Us, maybe the mall? Well, too bad. We live 150 miles from any of those things. Have fun playing in your new pile of dirt.”

Kyler is Cummins’ 2-year-old son. When that commercial comes on, his son “laughs hysterically,” Cummins said during a phone interview Friday from Omaha, Neb. “That’s my favorite audience response so far.”

Cummins, who graduated from Gonzaga University with a psychology degree, says he’s excited for the exposure “Last Comic Standing” has offered. But he’s not a huge fan of the show.

“It should be called, ‘The Real World With a Few Jokes,’ ” Cummins said. “I don’t like how they make it about the drama of the road, but I’m not a producer. I just like to see the acts.”

Cummins has been doing stand-up comedy for almost eight years, getting his start when a former Spokane club, The Season Ticket, had an open mic night.

“I tried it then just fell into it,” said the comedian who moved to Spokane in 1995. “Now I love the art form. It was not part of the master plan.”

He has had two stand-up shows on cable television’s Comedy Central – “Live at Gotham” and “Comedy Central Presents.”

Cummins worked at 24-Hour Fitness before he started making money as a comic.

The funny thing is, he said, when he sees people he used to work with they’d say: “You know, we didn’t think you were that funny.”

He added, “I’ve always had a dry sense of humor, but I usually saved it for my friends. If you didn’t know me well, you probably wouldn’t think I was that funny.”


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