Jess Walter, if you’re taking a break from writing your latest novel and have an hour to spare, you’re cordially invited to catch Greg Warren over the weekend at Spokane Comedy Club.
“My favorite author is Jess Walter,” Warren gushed while calling from his St. Louis home. “I love that guy! I happened upon ‘Beautiful Ruins,’ and it’s one of the best books I ever read. I’ve never been to Spokane, and I know he’s from there, so I’m looking forward to seeing what inspired him in his town.”
Another reason Warren is excited about making his Spokane debut is due to his love of the film “Vision Quest,” which is arguably the finest wrestling movie of all time.
“I was a wrestler in high school when the film came out (in 1985), and I was way into it,” Warren said.
“ ‘Vision Quest’ is such a great film. I know there is pretty good high school wrestling throughout the state of Washington.”
The former West Point cadet wasn’t just a high school wrestler. Warren was an All-American college wrestler at the University of Missouri who studied journalism. After graduation, Warren went corporate working for Procter & Gamble.
“It took a while, but I finally found my calling after I quit Procter & Gamble,” Warren said. “Most comics start, at the latest, while they are in their 20s, but there’s no retirement age. You just keep going as long as you can make people laugh.”
Warren, 53, still draws from his P&G experience. “I’m talking a lot about peanut butter,” Warren said. “I used to sell peanut butter when I worked at Procter & Gamble. I’m very passionate about peanut butter.
“The Smucker company agreed to buy Procter and Gamble’s Jif. If these guys get ahold of a bread company, there should be a Sherman Antitrust Act against it. You can’t go around owning a whole sandwich.”
Warren will also riff about insurance, health care and COVID-19. “I get tested every day,” Warren said. “It’s tough now since so many places are all booked up. But I go to this place where it’s $79 for a test and $99 if you want it to be negative.”
When Warren’s uncle played a Bob Newhart comedy album for him when he was a prepubescent, the stand-up bug was planted. “I love Newhart,” Warren said. “He’s one of the greatest of all time.”
Much like Newhart, Warren will resurrect the art of portraying two people having a conversation. His refreshingly old school approach works. “I do what I feel comfortable with, and some people like it,” Warren said. His comedy has worked well enough to take him to the semifinals of “Last Comic Standing” in 2007 and 2015.
“I met a lot of cool people doing ‘Last Comic Standing,’ ” Warren said. “The second time around, I thought I could win it, but I let (the producers) talk me into doing material I didn’t want to do. It didn’t work out. It’s a game show. It helped me with exposure, and it’s fine. Who would ever guess I would become a comedian?”
Warren has been a comic for 20 years, and he just completed a new hour of material, which will be showcased with a special. “I’m still putting the finishing touches on it,” Warren said. “You’ll get it all when I get to Spokane.”
And perhaps Warren’s favorite novelist will show up. “That would be so amazing,” Warren said. “I love his work, and I think it’s so cool that he still lives in Spokane. I’ve been everywhere, and I can’t believe I haven’t been to Spokane since I’ve been doing this for so many years. It’s about time I see that city.”
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