Heartfelt, long-winded thanks from a grateful stand-up comedian

Des Moines Social Club - Ben Gran stand-up comedy

Excitement builds as the audience takes their seats...

I don’t mean to brag, but my debut stand-up comedy show was a HUGE SMASHING SUCCESS. 

We sold out the Des Moines Social Club!

Repeat: We didn’t just PACK the Social Club, we SOLD IT OUT.

We had almost 150 people in the audience. I had hoped for 100, and we exceeded that goal by 50%. We didn’t have enough chairs for everyone. The crowd was not just standing room only, it was “sitting room only.” There were groundlings sitting at the foot of the stage, like in Shakespeare’s time (but our groundlings were much better looking).

The hand-scrawled set list from Ben Gran's stand-up comedy debut

Thank you to EVERYONE who came to the show. I cannot thank you enough. I had nightmare visions of only getting 20 or 30 people to come to the show. I fretted over this for weeks. I bombarded my Facebook friends with blog posts, YouTube videos and Event invites. I handed out flyers and asked friends to invite their friends-of-friends.

Looks like all of my shameless self-promotion paid off.

And did I mention that this was only the first time I’ve ever done stand-up comedy? Who does things like  this? I’m insane. I booked a venue, invited a guest comedian to open for me, printed flyers and started telling jokes. I never went to an open mic to prepare for the show. This was literally the first time I’d ever stood up in front of an audience and told jokes like this.

There are SO MANY PEOPLE I NEED TO THANK. Here are a few:

  • Amanda Gran: My lovely wife never doubted me or dissuaded me from doing this stand-up comedy show, even though she probably should have. Thanks for encouraging my reckless, narcissistic dreams, and thanks for letting me tell off-color jokes in front of all your friends. I love you!
  • Adam Faircloth is my hero. He ran ragged all night fixing tech stuff and making a video of the show with 4 different stationary HD cameras. He made a last-minute dash to Best Buy (and then to Radio Shack) 20 minutes before showtime to buy an extra part that we needed to record the soundboard audio. Adam’s working on editing the final video of the show, which will be available soon – and it’s going to look and sound GREAT. (A trailer of the show, “Ben Gran Live at the Des Moines Social Club,” is embedded below.)
  • Omaha comedian Zach Peterson‘s opening set was a big hit, and we hope to see him again on the Des Moines comedy scene very soon. Zach, thanks for agreeing to do this show (with some guy in Des Moines you’d never heard of), for making the drive and for bringing your own unique comedic energy to the show. It was great to meet your wife Lindsey, too!
  • Eric Johnson was a late addition to our small-but-dedicated crew, but he provided invaluable help with producing the show and managing all the last-minute details. We had an unexpectedly huge crowd and I couldn’t have pulled this off without his help. And thanks for loaning us your awesome HD video camera!
  • Angela West Carolan is a one-woman buzz marketing machine: she brought 12 people to the show! She and her husband drove up from Oskaloosa (45 minutes each way) to be part of the crowd. Thank you Angela for all of your support!
  • Gordon Fischer and Monica Seigel Fischer have supported my comedy endeavors from Day One – and they helped spread the word to their huge networks of friends and contacts in Des Moines. Thanks to both of you for putting your reputations on the line to promote an untested stand-up comic. (And if anyone was offended by any of my jokes, please don’t blame Monica and Gordon. Well, you can blame Gordon a little bit.)
  • Luke Gran and Sally Gran ran the Box Office ticket booth (a.k.a. “my iPhone”) and took payments from dozens of ticket-buyers, building on their cash-collecting skills honed at various Farmers Markets from running Table Top Farm. Thanks for being there. And my brother Luke is a great laugher.
  • My beloved parents, Jim and Mary Gran, and Amanda’s wonderful mom Nanette: Thank you for taking care of our kids so Amanda and I could have a fun night out on the town. (And thanks, Mom and Dad, for not coming to my show, as I requested in this video.)
  • Hollie Journey and Mike Hummer drove all the way from Kansas City (3 hours) to be there for my stand-up comedy debut. Thanks for all the encouragement and ideas.
  • Tanya Keith and her husband Doug Jotzke were hugely helpful in building a crowd – and lots of fun to hang out with after the show!
  • Margaret Dixon and her daughter Rachel Dixon are awesome people and I’m so glad they decided to move to Des Moines – and thanks for bringing a posse of friends to the show!
  • Frank William Miller Jr. and David J. Anderson are two of my best pals from my days at Rice University. They drew and designed the awesome, eye-catching flyers that we used to promote the show. Thank you guys!
  • Erin Bradley, Brandy Case Haub, Mike Case Haub, Betsy Rudicil, Scott Rudicil, Greg Jerrett, Ben Godar, Jennifer Doser, Shawna Skinner Meyer, Sabbath Jackson, Brandy Lueders, Lisa Houchins, Louisa Dykstra, Steve Yakovich, Karen Yakovich, Natalie Kost Watson, Matt Erickson, Jared Parker, Jennifer Rasmussen Parker, Emily Bailey, Sarah Simpson Hanneman, Amy Wright, Mindy VerSteegt, Katherine Manion, Drew Maifeld, Emily Zach, Adam Hammes, Jessica Marie Bishop Fisher, Nolan Greiter, Elisabeth Ballstadt, Grey Lovelace, Sara Van Winkle, Sarah Nevins, Sarah Bowers, Ben Hawk, Karen Swim, Helena Hadek, Jay Villwock, Max Lambert and many, many others who I’m surely forgetting to mention: THANK YOU for being my fans on Facebook, for liking my jokes, for spreading the word, for sharing my blog posts, for helping build a crowd and being interested in what I’m doing and above all, for PAYING ATTENTION TO ME.

Because ultimately, fulfilling my unhealthy need for attention and acclaim is what Friday night’s show was all about.

THANK YOU. Let’s do this again sometime.

Pre-show crowd image credit: Greg Jerrett

Have you Liked my Ben Gran Comedy Fan page on Facebook yet? Do it! Get gluten-free, locally-sourced jokes, served daily.

WATCH THE TRAILER for “Ben Gran Live at the Des Moines Social Club.” Full video coming soon!

Why YOU should help Ben Gran pack the Des Moines Social Club

I'm going to romp on stage like this happy puppy.

Dear Readers,

I am SO EXCITED for my stand-up comedy show on March 9 at the Des Moines Social Club. I’m so excited that for the past few days, I’ve been emitting a high-pitched squeal that is only audible to dogs. And teenagers. (Damn kids.)

I’m so excited that I’ve been having trouble sleeping! (Or maybe I’ve been having trouble sleeping because of all the prescription drugs I stole from my part-time job at the nursing home.)

But seriously. Doing stand-up comedy is a dream come true for me. Some people dream of retiring to a Caribbean beach house or putting their children through college; I dream of telling off-color jokes to hundreds of strangers.

So can you do me a favor?

Will you invite some friends to my show?

I want to pack the Social Club. I want to come perilously close to violating the Fire Code. I want to create a legendary, raucous night of laughter and debauchery to rival the heyday of the Sex Pistols. (But without the heroin.)

My stand-up comedy brother-in-arms Zach Peterson and I are ready to rock, but as any performer will tell you, nothing rocks harder than a packed house.

Imagine it: the buzz of a crowd, energetic music, a thrill of excitement in the air, the lights go down, the mood comes up, and long ago somebody left with the cup…oh dear, apparently I’ve started plagiarizing lyrics from Cake, “Going the Distance.” Somebody stop me…

But seriously, wouldn’t you love to be part of this happenin’ scene? This cultural phenomenon? This homegrown talent taking the stage for the first time, in front of an enthusiastic array of fans who have each consumed 2 or 3 alcoholic beverages?

Sound like fun?

Let’s do it. Tell your friends. People are already buying tickets, but we need one last push to make this happen – just like pregnant women in labor need one last push to get the baby out, before the doctor pounces on them and performs a medically unnecessary C-section.

Bring all the Sister Wives!

Make it a guys’ night out, girls’ night out, couples’ night out, husband-wife-and-most favored concubines’ night out, or fundamentalist Mormon sister wives’ night out.

If you have kids, hire a babysitter! Or leave your children with a family member, neighbor or trustworthy-looking stranger.

But don’t come alone! Bring friends! Let’s do this!

I look forward to seeing you on March 9, assuming I’m capable of seeing anything through the blurry fog of booze and pills that clouds my daily life.

(Just kidding – I am not an alcoholic or a pill-popper. I’m just making a dark joke. About these terrible afflictions that ruin people’s lives.)

So yeah…

Pack the Social Club!


— Ben Gran

P.S. Here is where you can BUY TICKETS ONLINE for Ben Gran’s March 9 stand-up comedy show. (Or you can procrastinate and pay $15 at the door.)


Sister Wives photo credit: mydaily.com

Puppy photo credit: Jeff Bishop