Comedian Adam Cozens will present an evening of stand-up comedy at “ye olde” Rustic Theater at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13. He will be joined by his longtime friend and colleague Nick Cobb.
In addition to his grueling (and ego bruising) work as a stand-up comic, Cozens has contributed material to “Saturday Night Live,” “Funny or Die” and late night show monologues, and he now directs a children’s program, “The Daily Devo Show.
He also has a Dry Bar comedy special folk can check out on the internet. His parents now live in Idyllwild (Pine Cove) and he has a deep affection for the town, so this will be a sort of hometown show for him.
Adam is worried about advertising for the Rustic show. The image shows a somewhat wild-looking hirsute and barefoot man emerging from the forest near the Rustic, carrying a microphone.
AC: “The ad that Javier (the artist) did for the show has the potential to disappoint a lot of people, haha. He made me look so much more fit and energetic than I am right now! I blame the pandemic. And my children. And, I guess to a much lesser extent, myself. I think he was trying to make me feel better about myself or make it look like I was Sasquatch, but in all of the Bigfoot art I’ve ever seen, he’s a thick, stocky fella. I guess I’ll take it. The theater looks nice.”
Indeed. In Idyllwild we are accustomed to Sasquatch and Squatch-related creatures, and the art does not do full justice to Adam’s resemblance. His eyebrows are certainly enviable.
TC: “Do you think of yourself as a ‘clean’ comedian?”
AC: “I’m pretty clean. Not 100% as that wouldn’t be authentic to myself as a person offstage. If I was a movie I would consider myself PG. For church shows or corporate gigs I can be as clean as anyone needs to be, but onstage I try to be in line with my own day-to-day personality. The regular me is sarcastic, and every once in a while, might make an off-color joke or reference but nothing too objectionable or crude or crass. So, I’d personally say I’m clean, but I know everyone has their own definition.”
TC: “Another comedian is coming up with you that night?”
AC: “The show is going to be very fun. I’m bringing along my friend Nick Cobb. He, too, headlines nationally. Outside of his stand up, he has been in about 50 national commercials as an actor so some people will recognize him when he walks out. And even if they don’t, he is truly hilarious — one of the funniest people I know. He is also one of my oldest friends in stand up. We met about 15 years ago when I was starting out in New York City. He is a great friend and one of my favorite people to bounce ideas off of. Our text thread is just a back and forth of premises that’ll never see the light of day, deservedly so. Nick is the first person I thought of when I decided to put this show together. Additionally, he and his wife Amy, who is also a hilarious comic, love coming up to Idyllwild with their kids.”
TC: “Tell us a bit about your career in stand up.”
AC: “I’ve worked all over. World famous comedy clubs and theaters to churches to bars. I’ve done performances for middle school Sunday School classes. I’ve done shows in people’s living rooms and in pizza parlors and then got on a plane and did eight capacity crowd shows in the middle of nowhere. It’s definitely a calling and it’s wildly humbling. In the span of two days, you can go from a packed weekend crowd hanging on every word to having to yell over the TV behind the bar, which is the reason most of the people actually showed up that night in the first place.”
TC: “So, you get around?”
AC: “I’ve performed in about 30 of the 50 states. I like the ability that I can do well on a Saturday night at 10 p.m. at a comedy club, but also do a church gig the next day if that is how my schedule falls. I know a lot of comics are, but I really try to not be pretentious about being a clean comedian because some of my favorite comics are pretty ‘blue’ and I love that about them. I do love that I’ve curated for myself a style where I am able to get laughs without going too far down that road though.”
TC: “A lot of your material seems drawn from family life.”
AC: “I have two young girls so a lot of my comedy these days is centered around parenting and being married and the dynamic of two people raising a set of fresh humans in this strange world. My youngest daughter was born in 2020, so her first year and-a-half of life has been so radically different from anything I’d experienced in my time on this Earth. One neat thing that has come out of the pandemic is that it caused me to stop performing for more or less a year. I’d pick up random outdoor shows, and incredibly depressing Zoom open mics and there was this one really fun club in the Bay Area that moved their whole showroom outside so acts could perform there and still feel safe. But, for the most part, I shut things down for almost a year and a half. We wanted to stay safe so in general we just took additional precautions.”
TC: “How did that change your life as a comedian?”
AC: “As a comic, one thing so many of my peers do is that we pride ourselves on ‘getting our reps’ in. By that I mean doing lots of sets. For comics like Nick and I who came out of the New York scene, we were used to valuing quantity over quality. Back in my mid-20s I was always aiming to get onstage three to four times a night. We felt the need to push ourselves to perform all the time. That is a mentality that a lot of comedians keep. Because if you aren’t out there working, those other 10 guys are and you’ll fall behind them. So, to have a life-changing event like the pandemic occur, it forced everyone to kind of sit on their hands for a year.
“For all the terrible things that came out of it, one silver lining was that it gave an opportunity for me to reflect on what was important to me as a human being. For me, that has led to taking my foot off the gas, spending more time at home, not chasing every minute of stage time, learning to do fewer stand-up sets but making the ones that I do count.”
“It’s helped me rediscover the feeling I had when I first started. Appreciating the stage time, writing more and not simply rehashing the same jokes for years and years, thinking about what is happening in my life, you know, taking a personal inventory. Now that things are more or less seeming to be opening up again, that old temptation to just schedule every night with shows again starts to come creeping back in. But instead of giving in, I can draw from the last few years and recognize ‘I will get there, I will do enough.’ I don’t have that urge. I still love this.”
TC: “And you have some credits on the résumé people should know about?”
AC: “Outside of stand up, I found success writing topical, monologue style jokes. I was asked to be a contributor to ‘Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update’ a few years back and I wrote for a ‘Funny or Die’ news joke thingy. I love writing about the news and world events but man have these last six years made that hard. I love the lighter side of the news. But when everything is so heavy, it kinda takes the wind out of ya.”
TC: “And you’re doing the Devo show?”
AC: “Yeah, it’s ‘The Daily Devo Show’ and I love it. It’s such a cool departure from most everything else I’ve done in my career. I’ve been a writer on the show for the last three years and I recently got the bump to director and showrunner. It’s a daily Christian children’s show, where the main age we write to is between 6 and 11 years old. It’s just fun to write jokes and lessons that are family-appropriate, but that can also hopefully make kids laugh and teach them something.
“My friend who created the show, Adam Mellema, and I want to make something that we, as confused, awkward Christian kids would have enjoyed watching, that didn’t beat you over the head with telling you what you were doing wrong and making you feel bad. The show hopefully makes kids laugh, while also teaching them about humanity, caring for others, loving those who might be different than you and showing others the love of Christ, as opposed to just a collection of rules and divisiveness.”
TC: “Your folks have a place up here?”
AC: “My parents Molly and Paul live up in Idyllwild, but I’ve loved the town long before they moved there. One of my best friends, Kelly Schlenz, is the director of Idyllwild Pines and the previous director, Kevin Relyea, actually married [performed the ceremony for] my wife and [me]. Kelly’s wife Pamela and my wife Laura have been friends since they were little kids. We have come up to see them and their family at the camp for the last 12 or 13 years. When my parents wanted to relocate from Seattle, I told them to look at Idyllwild. When they first moved to town they worked as camp hosts as a sort of semi-retirement, then they ended up taking a liking to the town and they haven’t left. My daughter Lucy loves the snow, rolling around in her GrandMo and GrandPaul’s backyard and getting takeout from La Casita. I always try to stop by Higher Grounds when in town. Idy is just such a wonderful place. I’m lucky to get to spend the amount of time that I do up here.”