Award-winning comedian Jeff Allen (and middle Tennessee resident) will be performing October 16 through 19 at Zanies in Nashville. Located on 2025 8thAvenue South, Zanies will be offering a special performance on Sunday, October 19 by lowering their age policy to 13 and over. Zanies owner, Brian Dorfman, believes comedians like Allen offer comedy clubs some alternatives that appeal to a broader audience.
For three decades, comedian Jeff Allen has been performing at churches, on television and radio, for fundraisers and at corporate functions all across the country. Jeff has performed all over the world, including for the troops in Bahrain and on ships in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean. He was also a featured performer for George W Bush’s inauguration.
We had the pleasure of asking Jeff a few questions about his comedy background and upcoming show at Zanies.
WS: When did you realize you were destined to be a comedian, and then when did you realize you could be good at it?
JA: When did I realize I was destined to be a comedian–being the youngest in my family and growing up in Chicago, I learned real quick that no one was going to take me seriously. That seems to have held true for most of my adult life as well. Being “good” as a stand-up is a hard metric to measure, as it is hard to please everybody. But I knew I was on the right track career-wise when I realized I really had no other skill set from which to feed my family, so I had to get good at it, otherwise we were going to starve. It became crystal clear when I received my first big laugh onstage; I just had to get over my stage fright which was crippling.
WS: Writer, podcaster, comedian, corporate speaker: what role do you enjoy the most?
JA: My first love is stand -up comedy and will always be. There is nothing like the immediate gratification of a live performance.
WS: Talk about your book My Life as a Bystander.
JA: My book My Life as a Bystander was written with a co-author/ friend of mine Martha Bolton. It was a series of short stories about raising children and being married, vast majority of which are humorous. If you are looking for Plato, not your book, but if you are looking for a laugh, somewhere in the heartbeat of the humor are some things I’ve learned about being a bystander and eventually as a participant.
WS: Happy Wife, Happy Life is another one of your published works. Give me three things that will make all wives happy in your opinion ( or a couple).
JA: The Happy Wife… thing is not exactly a one size fits all. The number one thing when women are surveyed about men is that a sense of humor is the most important. One would think that as a comedian I would have no problem with that. Spend twenty eight years with someone and I believe you might have heard all their jokes. I have to work hardest to make Tami laugh, but it is worth the effort, since it was her laugh that I fell most in love with.
One other thing: I know this, we are given one finite thing in this life and that is time. It has been said that people from the outside can observe what a total stranger loves by what they spend time with or in the case of family, who. Spending time with my wife is what makes her happiest. Every time I would sit across the breakfast table, drink coffee and have a conversation, she would take the time to come over to me, hug me, kiss me and thank me and tell me how much that meant to her. I didn’t understand at the time but I do now, it’s about loving her enough to spend the time to show her.
WS: Tell us about how you got involved in this Zanies event and what you think of the concept.
JA: I have had a relationship with Zanies for over thirty years. I thought it only fitting that I would return to clubs, not only in my hometown of Nashville, but at a club that I have had such a long standing relationship with. The concept of a “clean” show is nothing new. Zanies is one of the top clubs in the country and has a history of booking really funny people. What may make this unique is that I am reaching out to my audience which is predominately Christian. I spent the better part of the last fifteen years working within the Church community and came to realize that there was a preconception of what stand-up comedians were, and the picture painted wasn’t pretty. The Church stopped going to comedy clubs because of the nature of comedy in America, which put kindly, doesn’t fit into their values. I understand this, and have pretty much the same values, so they can attend this show without fear of being deeply offended. I have always wanted to do an evening of comedy that would work for three generations of people—this is a show that can be enjoyed by the grandparents, the parents as well as the teenage grandchildren. I think that families need to laugh more together, that can’t be bad for anybody.