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‘Last Comic’ crash course sets Rod Man on successful path

Rod Man will bring his slyly observational humor to the Bing on Sunday night. (COURTESY PHOTO / COURTESY PHOTO)
Rod Man will bring his slyly observational humor to the Bing on Sunday night. (COURTESY PHOTO / COURTESY PHOTO)

Rod Man’s comedy comes with the guarantee that it’s going to deliver “that good funny,” a slogan that the L.A.-based comedian, who performs at the Bing Crosby Theater on Saturday, explained during a recent phone interview.

“It’s (for) all ages, all genders, everybody,” Rod Man said. “We put (everything) in a Crock-Pot and we simmer it down for everybody to digest it. I always say that if you liked me on TV, live is where I live.”

Television has been a constant in Rod Man’s career. He says it inspired him to become a comedian when he was a teenager in Atlanta, watching Def Comedy Jam specials and studying the comedy routines that aired on the long running variety series “Showtime at the Apollo.”

“I saw people that looked like me, talked like me, dressed like me, and I thought, ‘Where are they doing this at?’ ” Rod Man said. “I went through the Yellow Pages and found Uptown Comedy Club, went on Tuesday night open mic night, fell in love with it and have been going ever since. And then ‘Last Comic Standing’ came along and boom, that’s your big break. So I’m like an overnight 20-year sensation.”

“Last Comic Standing,” the NBC competition series that previously launched the careers of Ralphie May, Amy Schumer and Josh Blue, is where Rod Man, real name Rod Thompson, reached his largest audience. He appeared on the show in 2014, beating nine other seasoned stand-ups to win the show’s eighth season.

“It was my launching pad to America,” Rod Man said. “It’s humbling, but at the same time it boosts your confidence, and it propels you forward.”

That exposure means that Rod Man is now an in-demand comedian, and his touring schedule has him pingponging around the country: Following his Spokane appearance, he’ll be in Maryland, North Carolina, Florida, Texas and Pennsylvania before the year is over. But his experience with reality television means he’s attuned to working at a breakneck pace.

“I looked at it like I was going to comedy college,” Rod Man said of “Last Comic Standing.” “We learned about writing, improv, we learned sketch comedy. Hell, I could be a tour guide at Universal City. I drove the bus as a tour guide. So I was like, if this comedy thing doesn’t work out, I could make a decent tour guide. We learned about roasting people. It was like being in college, because we’re just stand-ups with a microphone and a stage, but there’s a lot of different avenues where you can get your funny off.”

Rod Man’s material is both raucous and slyly observational, defined by the comedian’s halting delivery and cockeyed worldview. He discusses everything from the politics of carpool lanes to being raised by a single mother to the old stand-up reliable of airplane etiquette.

“My material’s very personal to me, because it’s just my experience,” Rod Man said. “If I’m telling a story about going into the store and checking myself out, that’s me. I mean, why am I employee’d today? Now I’ve gotta learn the produce codes. I shouldn’t have to do that. I ain’t been to no orientation or nothin’!

“I always try to take a bit and think about the what if, and why are we doing these things they make us do? Like, they make us buy bags at the store. Like, y’all already got bags in the store. I’ve gotta bring a bag into the store? Can I bring a CVS bag into a Walgreens? I’m always questioning stuff. That’s kind of my style.”