MARQUETTE - Jon Stambaugh has always been a competitor.
He played several sports, including basketball in high school and college, but now he has a much different arena: the comedy stage.
While he has been performing at clubs in his current place of residence, Minneapolis, during the last few years, Stambaugh will have a brand-new audience when he hits the stage Friday at Pasqualis in his hometown of Negaunee.
"People ask me why I do comedy and first off, it is because I am funny," Stambaugh said via email. 'But what really draws me to it is the competitive factor. Doing a set is almost the same as playing a sport. If it goes well, you have the feeling of winning (as Charlie Sheen would say).
"The times it does not go as well, you can feel like you have been defeated. Being a competitive person, I like this aspect."
Stambaugh, 40, grew up in Negaunee. He now lives in Minneapolis with his wife, MIchelle, and sons, Josh and Zach. He works as a project manager at Cummins Inc. during the day and is pursuing his doctorate at St. Mary's University.
On the Web:
To watch a routine of Jon Stambaugh's, visit:
Parental guidance advised, however, for some strong language.
It was a night out with his wife that led to his comedy start.
"My wife and I like to watch comedy shows," Stambaugh said. "We went to a show at the Acme in Minneapolis, which is one of the main clubs. The night we were there, they had the best of the Twin Cities open mic people doing a few a minutes. We watched 10 people and I found maybe half to be funny. I told Michelle, 'If they can do comedy, then I can do it as well!'
"Who would have known ... I then started writing down ideas and worked on forming jokes."
Stevie Ray's Improv Co. was where Stambaugh had his first gig, more than four years ago.
"I took a four-week class that taught some of the tricks of doing stand-up," he said. "At the end, you got to do a three-minute set between the improv show. Yes, I was nervous. There were supposed to be five of us doing sets that night and only two showed up.
"After I survived it, I decided to keep at it," Stambaugh said. "The great thing about Minneapolis is there are a number of places to work on your comedy during the week. The comic scene is vibrant."
His stand-up routine evolves from an easily tapped source: his day-to-day world.
"The source of my routine is everyday life," he said. "Things that I find amusing or annoying, I try to turn them into material. In the show I will do, there are a number of real-life incidents that I use as jokes. I guess you could say it is chicken soup for the soul.
"The process of starting with a random thought and trying to turn it into something funny is both challenging and fun," Stambaugh said. "I do a lot of observational humor as well as poking fun at my own expense."
Stambaugh's parents, Darrel and Kathy, live in Negaunee during the summers and in Arizona the rest of the year. His grandmother, Theresa Kosonen, still resides in the town and receives a Thanksgiving visit from Jon and his family.
Is he nervous about performing in Negaunee?
"It will be interesting performing in Negaunee," he said. "I would not say I am nervous, though I will be a bit before it starts. Most shows I do, I know only a few folks in the crowd. I have a Upper Peninsula-centered joke I want to try, but have not been able to practice yet, as people in Minnesota would not understand it.
"It should be fun to come back home and make people laugh."
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.