Roncalli, UIndy grad travels the country with his humor
While Brent Terhune’s former high school friends aren’t surprised that he is an up-and-coming comedian, his teachers probably are.
“I was not the class clown,” said Terhune, a 2008 Roncalli graduate. “The teachers didn’t know I was a cutup because I was so quiet. But outside of class and when I was with my friends, I always injected humor into our conversations.
“If you surround yourself with funny people, you can’t help from being funny.”
Terhune, who attended St. Roch Grade School and graduated from the University of Indianapolis with a degree in communications, has been a stand-up comedian for nine years and is releasing his first album, “Mr. Turkey,” Aug. 7.
“Mr. Turkey” covers various topics, including Terhune’s family, his interactions on social media and his love for ghost hunting shows. He also touches on his experiences while serving as a substitute teacher. “I noticed that some of the children couldn’t really say my last name since it’s not very common. A lot of the kids ended up calling me Mr. Turtle or Mr. Turkey, hence, the title.”
The album, available on iTunes, also features three characters that Terhune has perfected. “The character I’ve done the longest is Uncle Frank. Everybody knows an Uncle Frank; he’s a 40-year-old guy who still lives in his mom’s basement and hasn’t quite mastered getting and keeping a job. He gets away with saying things that I can’t.”
The other characters are Jonathan Peepers, a blind and grumpy comedian from Las Vegas, and Coney Danza. “Coney Danza is probably my favorite because he’s so over the top,” Terhune said. “Coney is a hot dog comedian, and I actually wear a hot dog suit when doing him. He makes food-based puns like, ‘My dad was always one of those guys that had a stick up his butt, granted he was a corn dog, but still.’ ”
Within a year after graduating from UIndy, Terhune was on the road nearly 30 weeks out of the year. That number has grown to about 40 or 45. “I like traveling and sightseeing, but the driving can get old, said the 26-year-old, who guesses he has performed in about 30 states. Long trips don’t bother him if they are worth the money.
“I don’t mind the hotels if they are clean and there is Wi-Fi. I say I go to the gym in my spare time, but that’s not always true. I have become of fan of watching wrestling on TV. There is a parallel between comedians and wrestlers: We will drive for hours to make little to no money. Essentially, we would all perform for free, but of course it’s always nice to make some money doing what you love.”
The oddest places that Terhune has performed are at a prison and on a yacht while motoring down a river in Knoxville, Tenn. It was a little intimidating for him to do his routine in front of the prisoners “because there were 300 of them and only one guard.”
His audiences have ranged from two people to more than 2,500 at the Akron Civic Theatre in Ohio.
When not on the road, Terhune lives with his mother, Karen Terhune, whom he describes as his biggest fan. “She loves what I do. I think part of her wants to do stand-up.”
He got a good jump on his career by landing an internship with the “Bob & Tom Show” in 2011. He performed so well that he was hired as a part-time writer, a position that he still holds. “The beauty of the job is that I can write anywhere. I don’t have to go into the studio,” said Terhune, who has appeared on the show.
Terhune says his career is progressing well, and he still can’t believe that he gets paid to tell jokes. “But it’s going to take 10 or 15 years to become an overnight success.”
A veteran of several comedy festivals, he has been on the television show “Laugh” and auditioned for “Last Comic Standing.” A sampling of his comedy can be seen at www.brentcomedy.com/, which offers an idea for a bumper sticker: “Not drunk, just texting.”
A show to promote his album starts at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 5, at The White Rabbit Cabaret, 1116 Prospect St., where tickets are $10 at the door and include an album. He has invited some of his fellow comedians to also take the stage. While Terhune’s performance will be rated PG-13, he says the overall show will be rated R.
Terhune normally shies away from current events and will only resort to a news item if it can spawn a good joke.
And since his routines are not set in stone, what happens in the audience can alter his show. “I just roll with what happens.”