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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Preacher Lawson’s sermon is just for laughs

Preacher Lawson will perform his standup act at the Spokane Comedy Club this weekend.  (Courtesy photo)
Preacher Lawson will perform his standup act at the Spokane Comedy Club this weekend. (Courtesy photo)
By Ed Condran For The Spokesman-Review

When Preacher Lawson was two weeks old, his mother’s friend declared that the energetic baby was going to become an evangelist.

“I’m not sure what I was doing besides saying ‘goo goo, gaga’ at that point but this woman was certain I was going to become a preacher and that was what I’ve been called ever since,” Lawson said while calling from his New York apartment.

Lawson, 31, never became a clergyman but he does speak before an audience every week. The playful humorist is a comic.

“I can see the connection of being a comedian and a preacher,” Lawson said.

Well, the late iconic comic Sam Kinison was a minister before breaking into stand-up a generation ago.

“I can see how that can happen,” Lawson said. “You get a charismatic person up there and things can happen. And I think Sam Kinison is amazing. But we’re different styles.”

Lawson is more laid back than the intense Kinison. However, Kinison was a gifted orator and the same could be said for Lawson, who is an energetic and engaging performer.

Lawson, who will crack wise Friday through Sunday at the Spokane Comedy Club, was magnetic on season 12 of “America’s Got Talent.”

The Portland native, who was a finalist during the 2017 season, impressed such tough customers as Simon Cowell and Howie Mandel. “They’re all fair judges,” Lawson said. “I loved Howie Mandel. He was so down to earth. He was so cool. A lot of people believe that Simon is mean. The reality is that Simon is just being honest when he’s judging.”

The popular show put Lawson on the map. “I’ll always be appreciative since AGT gave me so much exposure,” Lawson said. “Once I became known due to the show, it was up to me to take it to the next level with my standup.

When Lawson returns to Spokane he’ll crack wise about what’s going on with his life. “I’ll talk about my experiences,” Lawson said. “The person I’ll make fun of most is myself. I love talking and more than anything making people laugh.”

Lawson was aware that he had the gift when he was in elementary school.

“I would make kids laugh so hard,” Lawson recalled. “People would tell me how funny I was. But I had no idea that it could turn into a career.”

Lawson learned a lesson in effort when he was part of his high school football team in Portland.

“I remember doing a drill on my back that tears up your abs and legs,” Lawson said. “When my football coach would turn his back, I would drop my legs. He said, ‘it doesn’t matter to me if you don’t give the proper effort. You’re not cheating me, you’re cheating yourself.’ What he said didn’t connect with me then, but it connected with me as an adult.”

Lawson believes work ethic is part of the reason Kevin Hart is the most successful comic-actor on the circuit. “How much he puts into comedy and well, everything is insane,” Lawson said. “I remember years ago seeing him in Montreal when I was up there (for the Just for Laughs festival). We were out late into the night and he was up at 7 a.m. working out. I saw it on his social media. The guy just goes all out with everything. He’s a role model. I’m not saying I’m trying to be Kevin Hart. I just want to be the best that I can possibly be with everything I do.”

Lawson grew up admiring a number of comics, including Dave Chappelle, Brian Regan, Dane Cook and the late Patrice O’Neal.

“All of those guys had such an impact on me,” Lawson said. “They’re all great for different reasons. I love how Brian Regan can make people laugh by being so clean. I love how silly Dane Cook is and how theatrical Patrice O’Neal was. There is so much you can do as a comedian. It’s my passion.”

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