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Bob Zany wants you to laugh, not be offended

Veteran comedian will bring his act to Fort Wayne Comedy Club @ 469

Bob Zany will be at Fort Wayne Comedy Club @ 469 on Saturday, May 13.
Chris Hupe

Chris Hupe

Whatzup Features Writer

Published May 10, 2023

Bob Zany has stopped in Fort Wayne many times during a career that began as a teenager on The Gong Show in 1976. 

“I’ve been there a lot,” he said in a recent interview with Whatzup. “I always used to fly into Fort Wayne International Airport and Snack Bar, as I like to say, and I will be flying in there again, so that’s cool.” 

His next visit to the “Snack Bar” will be when he flies into town for a pair of shows Saturday, May 13, at the Fort Wayne Comedy Club @ 469.

Finding the right spot

Zany is a comedian’s comedian, a professional that appeals to just about everyone. However, he believes that might be something that has actually been a drawback for his career. 

“How do you market that?” he said. 

He attributes his mass appeal to old-school thought. 

“I include everybody. You don’t exclude anyone. I think the real issue now is that inclusion means you have to exclude someone, and I don’t believe that at all,” he said. “An audience is there to laugh, so if you’re funny, you’ve done your job.”

There’s a lot of different types of comedy, Zany said. There are jokes that work on the radio. Those that work on TV. Jokes that work live. And then there are jokes that might be funny on paper but not when you say them out loud. 

“I have jokes that I say, ‘My God, that is a great joke,’ and it gets nothing (from the audience),” he said. “You can’t worry about that, but as a performer, your job is to make people laugh. So you have to go with the ones that work.”

cannot please everyone

In this day and age of ultra sensitivity, it seems everyone is looking for a reason to be offended, which could pose a problem for any comedian. 

For Zany, he doesn’t worry about that because he feels no matter what you say, you are always going to offend someone. 

“You’ve just got to minimize it to one or two people though, and let’s be honest, those people shouldn’t be out in public,” he said.

Furthermore, Zany has a line in his act that he uses when it makes sense: “If you have an issue with a comedian or a joke, then you have bigger issues.” 

He tells aspiring comedians in comedy classes, “If you know what’s in your heart and who you are, it’s OK. I know how cheesy that sounds, but if you’re a mean person that really believes those things, then that’s a completely different animal. I’m not there to hurt anyone. I just do my show.”

National exposure

The Zany Report, where he puts a comical spin on current events, is one of the things that has worked well for Zany over the years and is a fan favorite. 

The 61-year-old said the idea for the bit started in the early ’80s when he began calling into radio station KLOS in Los Angeles. 

“I was Bob Zany, Cub Reporter, to give you an idea of how young I was,” he said. 

He doesn’t remember all of the things he would do back then, but The Zany Report evolved to a point where he was able to present it on The Bob & Tom Show in 1997. It was a big break. 

“I did it for them, and Tom (Griswold) said, ‘Would you like to do it every week?’ I said, ‘Sure,’ and then I did it with them for 17 years.”

Zany has appeared on more than a thousand national television shows and has numerous feature film credits including Joe Dirt, alongside David Spade, and Steven Soderbergh’s The Informant

There have been other highlights during his four-and-a-half-decade career, including working with Rodney Dangerfield on that comedian’s HBO specials and appearing on the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Labor Day Telethon. 

“The telethon was cool because they would give me the spot right before midnight, and Ed McMahon, from The Tonight Show, would stand off to the side. For those eight minutes, I got to be Johnny Carson. If a joke didn’t work, he would say ‘What was that, Bob?’ I did that for 17 years, too.”

Working with crowd

Though he may not often be lumped into the same group as Carson and Dangerfield, there is no doubt Zany should be included as one of the all-time greats of the business, just one that never got that “big break.”

When you see Zany, though, he appears to think you should have modest expectations, despite his impressive track record. 

“Hopefully they will laugh,” he said about the upcoming shows.

Seemingly smooth and effortless, Zany said it has taken years to make his act appear that way, and no show is ever the same as the last. 

He said he always has a beginning and an end, but lets the audience dictate the middle, making it somewhat of a group project. 

“I was doing a show in Israel and someone came up to me and said, ‘You’re like Don Rickles,’ which is a compliment, because Don Rickles was a very funny man,” he said. “But Don Rickles knew what he was going to say to somebody ahead of time. That’s no disrespect to him because he had it down.” 

The contrast is that Zany gathers information throughout the show and creates jokes on the spot. 

“It may come across as if I’m insulting them, but like I said, that’s OK. That’s their problem,” he said. “It’s a tightrope when you work the crowd and it took me years to get there but it’s just second nature now, like driving a car. You don’t really think about it, but you probably should.”


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