Comedian - Gary Owen

Wait a minute! Was that a white host on the Black Entertainment Network's "Comic View" series? Well, yes it was. Comedian Gary Owen voted "Funniest Black Comedian in San Diego," beat 44 other contestants to win the hosting spot on the seven-year old show. In "Comic View" series nine year history, the highest ratings was the year that Gary hosted. Owen. 26, was always the "class clown" when he was growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio. After high school, he got serious and enlisted in the Navy. He was chosen for the prestigious Presidential Honor Guard. Spinning rifles and carrying flags for George Bush and Bill Clinton turned out to be the wrong job for a funny guy. "I was always smiling," he remembers. "So I got yelled at for smiling all the time."

After leaving his ceremonial position. Owen became a military police officer at the Naval Installations on Coronado Island in San Diego. But he was too much of a pushover to be a cop. He made only two arrests in three years. "I was the worst," he admits. During that time, though, he embarked on his true calling- standup comedy. One night while hanging with his service buddies, Owen worked up the nerve to go at a nightclub. He bombed. After a year of practicing, he tried again. He eventually was named "Funniest Serviceman in America."

Owen never pretended to be one of the homeboys. Basically, I would ask questions, like, 'I don't know what a "boo" (a term of affection) is. Do I have this right? Am I thinking right?' And they'd laugh because I was so honest about it.

San Diego's African-American community embraced him, and he went on to win the "Funniest Black Comedian in San Diego" contest. That led to his first big gig at Los Angeles' Comedy Store. Then in July of '97 he auditioned for BET's "Comic View." Two appearances on the multi - cultural comedy showcase won him his own one-hour "Grandstand" show. At the end of the season he was selected from the year's 4 "Grandstanders" to be last year's host. Owen was excited because he'd always been a huge "Comic View" fan. He loves the way the Black audiences go nuts when a joke hits them hard.

He played a redneck deputy alongside Jamie Foxx in Trimark's "Held Up," which was released in May, 2000. Gary Owen was added as a headling act on the RJE Urban Comedy Cabaret tour which is the largest and longest running comedy tour in the nation. Gary recently performed on the Montel Williams' Show, after being spotted by the shows producer. "Comic View" could be just the springboard to bounce him to his next goal. After all, "In Living Color" didn't hurt the career of that other white guy...what was his name? Jim Carrey?

Off the military base, it was the Black nightclubs that gave him his real breaks. " The only place I could get on-stage regularly, "he recalls, was in the so - called "hood" in San Diego. Then I thought. "Why don't I make fun of blacks and whites? We're both sitting here.

That's when I started addressing the different black and white issues. Interracial dating, and social issues. I like to deal with issues white guys aren't suppose to talk about."


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