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!

5 reasons why Ben Gran is doing stand-up comedy

As you may know, with all the “buzz” going on in the “blogosphere” and the “Twitterverse” and “FacebookLand,” I’m going to be doing a stand-up comedy show on March 9 at the Des Moines Social Club. Along with Omaha comedian Zach Peterson. Tickets are ON SALE NOW.

Ever since I announced this comedy show, I’ve been getting a lot of questions from people. Questions like:

“Are you sure you want to do this?”


“Why are you doing this to yourself?”


“You should probably see someone about your emotional issues.” (OK, that last one isn’t a question.)

So I gave it some thought. Here are the top 5 reasons why I’m doing stand-up comedy:

Because I probably need therapy, but my insurance won’t cover it:

I’m prone to melancholia, anxiety and curmudgeon-hood, but nothing makes me happier than making people laugh. Some of my favorite memories in life are the times where I got to be part of a room full of people laughing. There’s nothing else like it. It’s such a rush. It gives me endorphins like no legal drugs possibly could.

Because I’m socially isolated and emotionally needy:

As a freelance writer, I spend a lot of time sitting at home by myself wearing pajamas (some days I go the extra mile and wear pants) and I don’t get to talk to other people very often. So rather than take the smaller step of joining a co-working space or hanging out at a coffee shop, I’d rather go all-in and tell jokes to over 100 people. (Right? There will be at least 100 people at this show, right everybody? Please come to my show. I need this. You have no idea how much I need this.)

Because I must:

It’s just something I need to do. The idea came into my head like a miniature meteorite plummeting out of the sky and bonking me in the brain: “You should do stand-up comedy.” I want to do stand-up comedy for the same reason Sir Edmund Hillary wanted to climb Mount Everest: “Because it’s there – and because I need to get out of the house and spend some time away from my wife and kids.”

Because I want to make memories:

As a father of two small children, I spend a lot of time contemplating my own eventual death. Time just keeps speeding up on me, and before long I’m going to start rapidly aging and deteriorating and collapsing into dust like the guy at the end of “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” who chose the wrong chalice to drink from.

The guy who "chose poorly" at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Remember that scene? The guy who thought he was drinking from the Holy Grail and would be rewarded with Eternal Life, but then it turns out he quickly disintegrated into a pile of bones?

I’ve never seen such an accurate onscreen depiction of the aging process.

"He chose poorly"

So before long, that’s going to be me. And before I die, I want to make some more memories from doing the things I love best. Someday when I’m on my deathbed, some of my fondest memories will be the times when I got to perform, make people laugh, make people think, and bask in the adulation of an audience.

Is this attitude entirely emotionally healthy? No. But that’s who I am.

Because I just don’t give a damn anymore:

Being a stand-up comedian can be tough. People might not laugh. They might heckle me. They might be offended by my jokes, throw garbage at me or threaten me with bodily harm. At this point, I don’t care. I’m 32 years old, I’m a grown man, and I don’t have, need or want a regular job anymore so I don’t have to worry about the Corporate Thought Police judging me for the things I say onstage.

So if you’re reading this, and you’re going to be within driving distance of the Des Moines Social Club on March 9, please BUY TICKETS and come to my stand-up comedy show. I promise not to collapse into dust until after the show is over.

Ben Gran stand-up comedy: Tickets On Sale Now!

Ben Gran is performing stand-up comedy on Friday, March 9 at 7:30 p.m. The brilliant Zach Peterson of Omaha’s OK Party Comedy will also perform.

Want to buy tickets? Now you can:


Ben Gran stand-up comedy FAQs:

You’ve got questions? We’ve got answers:

Where’s the show going to be? Des Moines Social Club, 400 Walnut Street, Des Moines, IA

How much do tickets cost? Only $10! It’s a cheap night out! And much more fun than your typical overrated Hollywood blockbuster. Plus there’s a small processing fee that goes to benefit the Social Club (a goodhearted non-profit that supports the local cultural scene, NOT an evil corporation like Ticketmaster). Only 150 tickets are available. Get ’em before the show sells out!


How do I pick up my tickets? There are two options: the tickets can be sent to you via U.S. mail for a small additional postage fee, or you can pick up your tickets at the Des Moines Social Club Will Call window. Sorry, but there is no “print at home” option.

Can we bring our kids to the show? Probably not. The show is officially designated as age 18+ and there will be frank discussions of adult topics. And probably some use of profanity. It’s going to be kind of like a really profane R-rated movie, like Harold & Kumar but without the nudity. If parents have questions about whether the show is appropriate for your high-school age kids, please contact Ben Gran at benjamin.gran@gmail.com


Where’s the booze? Alcoholic beverages can be purchased in the Kirkwood Lounge bar. We will be checking IDs. 21 and over only, please.

What makes Ben Gran think he has any right to do stand-up comedy? Ben Gran is an experienced comedy performer, script and sketch writer. He has performed sketch and improv comedy and acted in plays, but decided to do stand-up because he was tired of other people getting to say all the lines. (Ben is what psychologists refer to as a “pathological narcissist.”)


Why should we trust Ben Gran to make us laugh? What if he sucks? Friend me on Facebook to see my best material. Many people tell me that my Facebook jokes are the sole reason they log into Facebook each day. (Not to brag.)

Who is Zach Peterson? Zach Peterson is hilarious! I saw him open for the great Rob Delaney at a comedy show in Omaha, and I was like, “This guy is good. Now I need to con him into performing at my stand-up show in Des Moines!” Here’s a video of Zach Peterson opening for Rob Delaney in Omaha:

Do you have any other questions? Send them to me: benjamin.gran@gmail.com

Please come to the show. Otherwise it will just be me, talking to myself in an empty bar. In other words: a typical Friday night.


Ben Gran Stand-up Comedy: Des Moines Social Club

Want to laugh at Ben Gran in public?

Here’s your chance:

Friday, March 9 at 7:30 p.m.

Ben Gran, dangerous stand-up comedian

Drawing by David Anderson, Houston, TX

WHAT: Ben Gran! (Performing stand-up comedy)

WHERE: The Des Moines Social Club!

WHO: Ben Gran! Also: A funny guy from Omaha named Zach Peterson will be on hand to deliver devastating witticisms! (You might say Zach puts the “Ha!” in “Omaha!”)

HOW: Ticket Info and Juicy, Scandalous Details are here – BUY TICKETS NOW! (no pressure)

WHY: Because we need something special to get through the gray slog of our daily lives, but drugs are illegal.


Ben Gran
(Amateur Comedian, Professional Assassin, Certified Life Coach)

P.S. Are you wondering, “Who is this guy? How dare he perform stand-up comedy?” Connect with me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/benjamin.gran