Standup comedy as a blanket

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Greg Wilson (File)

Adam Buhck, [email protected]

Sometimes the greatest triumphs come from embracing the unexpected, rolling with the punches, and not being afraid of who you might offend.

Greg Wilson learned this lesson firsthand through his standup comedy. He will perform at 10 p.m. today in the IMU.

The native of Dallas headed to comedy at a young age while pursuing an acting career.

“When I was younger, I wanted to be a very serious actor,” Wilson said. “I was doing a lot of Shakespeare. But most of the time, even when I did Shakespeare, I would get the comedy roles. Even though I wanted the big dramatic roles, I was getting the clown. One day I said ‘Hey, maybe I should stop fighting this and be a comedian.’ ”

Wilson is best known for his work as a cast member on “truTV Presents: World’s Dumbest …,” a reality comedy show featuring a medley of moronic feats and unusual events captured on camera. Wilson, alongside other comedians, provided satirical commentary for the video clips.

In addition to his TV work, Wilson has also done voice acting for video games, appearing in The Warriors and a couple of Grand Theft Auto titles. But what Wilson prides himself on the most is his standup.

Wilson practices gonzo standup, a style of comedy that flouts conventions and pushes against the barriers of what is socially acceptable. His brand of standup has earned him the praise of fans and invoked the ire of some club managers, who found his antics just a little too raunchy. Some even banned him after seeing his act, but that was little deterrent for Wilson.

“Sometimes I deserved it, and sometimes I didn’t,” he said. “You can either take [getting banned] and have it collapse you, or you can have that, ‘I’ll show you’ attitude, and it drives you to get better.”

Wilson has devoted his life to the art of standup; when he’s not performing it, he’s teaching it. During his downtime between tours, he teaches classes at the Comedy Institute, an academy he started for standup comics. He teaches prospective comedians the skills they need to make it in the world of standup, including hosting, storytelling, and how to handle hecklers.

One of the techniques Wilson teaches to subdue a heckler is the “blanket technique” in which the comic takes everything a heckler says and simply “blankets” it with sound in order to drown him out.

“A heckler just wants to be heard,” he said. “In their mind, the whole audience thinks they’re the star, so what this technique does is simply remove their ability to be heard.”

In one particular case, this technique drove a heckler into a full-blown tantrum.

“[The heckler] actually got up and walked all the way to the side of the stage and started to heckle me from there, but I just kept blanketing her with sound and so she couldn’t be heard,” he said. “She started throwing a tantrum like a child, stomping her feet on the floor and punching the air. It was hilarious.”

Although a run-in with a heckler might sour a comedian’s mood, for Wilson it’s just another way to engage with his audience.

“Some comics try to ignore when an audience member says something. I want to know what they said,” he said. “I want something to happen that’s momentary and real, and that’s what I mean when I talk about gonzo comedy.”
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Greg Wilson
When: 10 p.m. today
Where: IMU Hawkeye Room
Admission: Free

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