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

3 ways you can help Ben Gran with his stand-up comedy show

I know what you’re thinking: “Ben Gran’s stand-up comedy show is only 1 month away! How can I help Ben Gran get a big audience for his stand-up comedy show on March 9?”

Fear not, for I have answers.

Ben Gran in Japan, coming to terms with the prospect of eating a whole fish

Here are the biggest ways you can help make Ben Gran’s stand-up comedy show into a smashing success:

  1. Buy tickets. Tickets are on sale now! Only $10 if you buy online (plus nominal processing fees which go to a good cause). Save a few bucks by buying in advance – tickets will cost $15 at the door on the day of the show. (And this show might just SELL OUT and there won’t be any tickets left at the door.)
  2. Follow Ben Gran on Facebook and Twitter. I’ll be posting updates and promo announcements from now through March 9 to market the living daylights out of this show. Plus you’ll get free access to all of my best daily jokes and witty observations.
  3. Tell your friends. Here’s a sample e-mail message you can send:


    Do you like to laugh? Have I got an offer for you…

    I’m going to see a really funny guy, Ben Gran, do stand-up comedy on March 9 at the Des Moines Social Club. Want to join me?

    Tickets are only $10. (What a bargain!) The show is going to be smart, funny, sexy and a little bit dangerous – not unlike Ben Gran himself.

    Let’s do it! It will be a fun night out! Hire a babysitter now!



I know it’s hard to take time out of your busy schedule to spread the word about someone else’s thing. And believe me, I’m as lazy as they come. I recently took 17 days to fill out a one-page form and e-mail it to one of my clients – and this was something directly related to me getting paid and putting food on the table for my children.

So if you’re too lazy to help, I totally understand. But if you can spare 17 seconds to hit Copy, Paste and Send on an e-mail to 10 or 12 of your closest friends, I’d really appreciate it.

Because ultimately, the reason I’m doing stand-up comedy is because I love people. I want to be closer to them. I want to make them laugh at me in a public setting. I want them to marvel at my wit and charisma – especially the women.

Support local narcissism. Come to Ben Gran’s stand-up comedy show. BUY TICKETS NOW. (No pressure)

Top 14 ways that Ben Gran is getting ready for his stand-up comedy show

Have you ever wondered how stand-up comedians get themselves “in shape” for their shows? Just like running a marathon or competing in an Olympic trial, performing stand-up comedy requires you to be in peak condition and at the pinnacle of your mental sharpness.
Here are a few of the methods that Ben Gran is using to get ready for his stand-up comedy show on March 9 at the Des Moines Social Club:
  1. Watching hours of Ted Koppel footage to emulate his delivery and hairstyle.
  2. Increasing alcohol intake from 6 drinks per day to 7.
  3. Stopping dozens of strangers on the street one-at-a-time and offering to do anything – and I mean ANYTHING – to make them laugh.
  4. Going through military boot camp to prepare for the experience of public humiliation, chastening and fear.
  5. Teaching at a public high school to practice dealing with hecklers.
  6. Recreational drugs.
  7. Asking women out on dates to get reacquainted with feelings of rejection and shame.
  8. Isolating self from any external humorous influences by serving 8 weeks as a Mormon missionary.
  9. Gleaning withering one-liners and “zingers” from the collected speeches of Mitt Romney.
  10. Memorizing thousands of jokes from the bubbling cauldron of subversive comic genius that is Michael Feldman’s “Whad’ya Know?”
  11. Making people laugh uproariously by saying to them, “I’m doing a stand-up comedy show. Want to buy tickets?”
  12. Getting in the mood for “funny” by reading the complete works of L. Ron Hubbard.
  13. Taking cold showers, fully clothed, to simulate the feeling of being drenched in gallons of flop sweat.
  14. Watching The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Because that guy is FUNNY and can do NO WRONG.

BUY TICKETS NOW to Ben Gran’s stand-up comedy show (no pressure)

25 Irresistible Reasons to come to Ben Gran’s stand-up comedy show

  1. All jokes will be 100% gluten-free.
  2. You’ll laugh. At least a couple of times. I promise.
  3. Get out of the house and away from your children. (Parents, am I right?)
  4. It’s a cheap night out – only $10, plus ticket fees that support the local cultural community.
  5. There’s a bar on-site. Drink up!
  6. Ben Gran and Zach Peterson are a couple of handsome dudes.
  7. Carrot Top will NOT be performing.
  8. Hear smart, incisive commentary on the vital issues of the day. And also: profanity.
  9. Ben Gran has an unhealthy need for attention, external validation and acclaim. So please give him what he needs.
  10. Catharsis.
  11. Rage.
  12. Revenge.
  13. Reuniting with lost loves.
  14. Laughter is sexy. (“If you can make a woman laugh, you’re already halfway up her leg.” – The Hardy Boys)
  15. If you don’t spend the money on tickets, you’re just going to blow it on something stupid.
  16. Even if the show is a total disaster, at least you’ll be able to say, “I was there the night Ben Gran disgraced himself in public and had to sell his house and move away from Des Moines forever in shame.”
  17. Rekindle your love for your spouse by reminding each other, “You’re not always the easiest person to live with, but at least you never made me watch you perform stand-up comedy in public.”
  18. Did I mention that the venue does, in fact, serve alcohol?
  19. It will be funnier than Saturday Night Live, latter-day Simpsons or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  20. Ben Gran’s stand-up comedy routine is very, shall we say, “lesbian-friendly.”
  21. Uncomfortable moments.
  22. Inconvenient truths.
  23. Salacious details.
  24. Warmongering.
  25. 50% of ticket sales go to the Des Moines Social Club. All other proceeds go to a good cause: Ben Gran’s personal profit.

How many more reasons do you need?

BUY TICKETS NOW for Ben Gran’s stand-up comedy show on March 9.

Volunteer for Ben Gran’s stand-up comedy show

I need a few volunteers for my stand-up comedy show on March 9.

Volunteers, to arms!

We’ll need a few people to…

  1. Sell tickets at the Box Office/hand out Will Call tickets at the door (1 or 2 people)
  2. Check IDs and issue wristbands for the 21-and-over crowd (there will be booze!) (2 people)
  3. Make a video of the show (using a camera I supply – or your own camera if you’ve got a good one and know how to use it) (1 person)

All volunteers get a free ticket to the show ($10 value!) plus my undying gratitude.

Please let me know if you’re interested by dropping me a line at benjamin.gran@gmail.com

Ben Gran’s Top 6 Comedy Heroes

So unless you’ve been living in a cave and don’t have Internet access, you probably have heard about my stand-up comedy show on March 9 at the Des Moines Social Club. Maybe you are wondering what kind of style of comedy to expect.

Here are a few comedians whose style and delivery I really admire and identify with. I don’t claim to be as good as these guys, but they’re the ones I’d most like to emulate. These are my heroes of stand-up comedy:

George Carlin: George Carlin made comedy into an art form in a way that no other comedian can touch. He was so smart, so tough, and so rigorous in the way he thought out every joke.

George Carlin - Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/people/22385015@N00

You can see the craft that George Carlin put into every joke and every delivery. I saw George Carlin live a couple times at the Des Moines Civic Center and I loved that even in his last few years of life, when his health was suffering and a lot of other people might have retired, George was still going strong with as high energy of a show as ever. He’s been dead for over 3 years but I still miss him and I watch his old routines on YouTube quite often.

Henry Rollins: Henry Rollins doesn’t describe himself as a comedian, but his style of spoken word performance has a lot of humor and it comes with a great intensity and precision to every thing he says. He’s an autodidact and a world traveler and is

Henry Rollins - Image credit: http://henryrollins.com/photo/press_shots/

relentlessly seeking knowledge and experience, and I respect his politics and his life perspectives. I’ve seen Henry Rollins speak a couple times at Iowa State University, and it’s always a great time. He  makes you laugh, he makes you think, and he makes you feel what he feels about whatever he’s talking about.

Louis C.K.: Louis C.K. is probably the biggest name in stand-up comedy right now, and it’s well deserved. I love how even when he’s doing a joke about something dirty/inappropriate/misanthropic or mean-spirited, the joke is always ultimately on him. “I have lots of beliefs, and I live by none of them,” is one of my favorite bits from the Louis C.K. “Live at Beacon Theater” special, which you should totally pay $5 for and watch.

Mitch Hedberg: No one ever wrote jokes quite like Mitch Hedberg. They’re like riddles wrapped in enigmas. And his delivery was so…cute. Even if he was telling a joke about drugs or sex or something awful, he had this way of telling it that made him sound lovable and impish. One of my favorite Mitch Hedberg jokes was the one about, “My fan moves side to side and it always seems to be shaking its head ‘no’ at me. So when I talk to my fan, I ask it questions that a fan would say ‘No’ to. Do you keep my papers in order? (shakes head ‘no’) Do you keep my hairstyle straight?”

Bill Hicks: My brother John (who is hilarious, by the way – all of my siblings are smarter than me) introduced me to Bill Hicks because he thought I’d like Bill’s combination of intellect and rage. He was right! Bill died tragically young (age 32) from pancreatic cancer, and I wish he was still alive because I can only imagine how funny he’d be as he got older. I would have loved to see Bill Hicks’ take on the George W. Bush years.

Rob Delaney: I am obsessed with Rob Delaney. I have read the man’s entire Twitter feed. Back in January, I drove my family to Omaha, stayed in a hotel overnight and had my mother-in-law watch our kids just so my wife and I could go see Rob Delaney’s show

Rob Delaney

at the Slowdown. Rob Delaney is so, so smart and he’s so, so dirty. I’m not sure I want to re-print any of Rob’s jokes on this blog, because I’m not sure how inappropriate-for-work I want my blog to get, but if you go to Rob Delaney’s Twitter feed you’ll quickly see what I mean. Reading Rob Delaney jokes is like getting an unfiltered glimpse into the male id, but in a good way. But he doesn’t just tell dirty jokes, he’s also really smart and focused and a very good writer, not only of Twitter jokes but longer-form material and articles. I think Rob Delaney could have been a political speechwriter or policy analyst, if not for his comedy career – but I’m glad he became a comedian instead.

There are a lot of other comedians I like, but these are the big ones. I like smart, irreverent, dangerous humor that makes people re-think their assumptions and look at life in a new light. I like comedy that is dark and unsettling and makes people uncomfortable, in a good way – good comedy should make you squirm and writhe and sit at the edge of your seat.

The best comedians know how to get a physical and emotional and intellectual response out of the audience. I hope to do the same on March 9.

PLEASE BUY TICKETS to Ben Gran’s stand-up comedy show. (No pressure.)