Gary Owen will perform in York on April 7 at the Toyota Arena at the York Expo Center.
Gary Owen will perform in York on April 7 at the Toyota Arena at the York Expo Center. (SUBMITTED)
Gary Owen's job is to make other people laugh.

But he's the type of comedian who can laugh at himself, which he did during a recent phone interview from Kansas City, Mo. He thought FlipSide was a radio station. When he realized his mistake, he let out a loud belly laugh - the type that would make anyone within earshot smile.

Owen said the humor he finds in everyday life usually works its way into his routines. He had planned out his material for his last comedy special but ended up talking about recent experiences and busting on Floyd Mayweather and his entourage when they entered the venue.

On Saturday, he will warm up the crowd before Ginuwine takes the Toyota Arena stage in West Manchester Township.

Owen said audience members will be safe from his satire unless someone wants the spotlight. The saying in his field goes: "Don't want none, won't be none."

"If you feel the need to yell something out you can be a part of the show," Owen said. "That won't be a problem."

This spring, Owen has several stand-up dates and screen credits. He stars in the buddy comedy "Think Like a Man," out April 20 and his latest comedy special, "True Story," will air May 10 on Showtime.

"Think Like a Man" is based on the book by funnyman Steve Harvey. But the movie's premise is about how woman act after they read it, Owen said. And so begins the relationship comedy.

The ensemble cast also features Michael Ealy, Kevin Hart, Taraji P.


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Henson, Gabrielle Union and Regina Hall.

Owen, of course, is part of the male crew. All the characters, he said, are in different stages of life. He happens to play the only happily married one. The others hound him when he bails on guys night to run home to the wife and kids.

"As a comedian, when someone bags on me, I have to bag back," said Owen, who is also happily married in real life. "Sometimes, it's not about being funny; it's about setting up others to be funny."

That was his job in "Think Like a Man." Hart plays the wise guy of the group and the other characters feed off of that.

This created a lot of friendly banter during and between takes. Owen said the guys worked out their group scenes ahead of time, but usually threw some improv into takes. In that way, acting, he added, is a natural progression from stand-up.

So how did a white guy from an Ohio trailer park end up in a predominately black cast?

Owen isn't quite sure about that himself. Like many comedians, race works its way into his routines. But he said he doesn't go for the easy lines or stereotypical cracks. He addresses cultural differences, by making fun of how white and black people react to situations differently.

Owen said that his first exposure to black culture was during boot camp. He learned to make fun of his own pre-conceived notions about race. But clowning around also got him in trouble during his days in the Navy.

"I kind of knew it wasn't going to be my career," he admitted. "I don't regret it at all."

After being named Funniest Serviceman in America, he decided to try comedy full-time. He was soon booking comedy clubs and tours.

"I've never written a joke down in my life," he said. "It's all in my head. I'm most comfortable on stage . . . than anywhere else on Earth."

On Saturday, Owen might be even more at ease since he's known the other comic on the lineup, DeRay Davis, for years. But comfort isn't part of Owen's job description.

"If you're used to getting big laughs and doing well, you can get comfortable and not (do) new jokes," Owen said. "I have an air date for the one-hour (special), so I put pressure on myself to work on my new material."

- Erin McCracken,
FlipSide staff

If you go

3 Rozes Entertainment Group presents the Celebrity Comedy Jam Saturday in the Toyota Arena at the York Expo Center, 334 Carlisle Ave., West Manchester Township.

Comedian DeRay Davis, who starred in "Jumping The Broom," "Barbershop," and

"21 Jump Street," will perform. Comedian Gary Owen and R&B/hip-hop artist Ginuwine are also on the bill. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m.

Hip-hop artists Mr. Cheeks, The Coke Boys and other performers will open the show.

Tickets cost $35. VIP tickets are also available. For details and tickets, call 717-577-2444 or 717-586-9864 or visit 3rozesentertainmentgroup.com.