News Column

A stand-up guy

October 8, 2013


Oct. 08--Raised on a steady diet of MAD Magazine and Warner Brothers cartoons, Lee Mays always knew he wanted to be a comedian -- even more so after watching "Eddie Murphy Raw" when he was 11.

"That's what I wanted to do eventually," Mays said.

It took a couple of decades, but the Ironton native, now 37, found his way to the mic.

His first show was at a bar in Huntington, W.Va., a little more than a year ago.

"I totally just bombed," Mays said. "No one was into that show, but I just kept at it and practicing and writing, things like that."

When not working at his day job as a certified nurse's aide, practicing involves standing in his bedroom, delivering one-liners and rants to his wall.

"I have a very wild imagination," Mays said. "I just go into my bedroom and pretend the wall is my audience and I just do my whole thing."

Since the inception of his comedy career, Mays said his style has transformed from the one-liner routine.

"Now it's kind of morphed into this off-the-cuff George Carlin, Bill Hicks kind of thing," Mays said. "Basically just because I'm sick of how the world is nowadays.

From ranting about the government and the economy to Miley Cyrus and whatever is making headlines, Mays doesn't hold back, as made evident by his Twitter feed.

Mays said he tries to perform at least once a month, as well as perform for charity events when possible.

"I love doing shows like that, because if I can be an (expletive) on stage for a good cause, sign me up," Mays said. "Because I've had relatives die of cancer and things like that. Anything I can do to help."

But it is his work hosting comedy showcases at the Whiskey River in South Point that landed him a spot in a documentary about novice comedians.

Called "Stand Up or Fall Down," the film will feature the Ironton native, along with stand-up comedians from the Columbus area. The film is a project of Patsy B (aka Patricia Batdorf), a comedian who also performs in Columbus.

Mays met Patsy B during a local show.

"I host an open mic night and a comedy showcase at the Whiskey River in South Point, it's monthly," Mays said. "And she (Patsy B) came down there a couple months ago for a ladies night comedy night that I put together. I guess she was impressed with my work."

Mays' footage for the film will be shot at the Recovery Room in Circleville on Oct. 24.

The release of the film is set for this winter with the possibility of its being entered into film festivals.

"If it gets picked up even by a minor distributor, that would be great," Mays said. "It would shine a light on comedy and comedy around here. It benefits everybody involved in this scene."

Increasing the Tri-State's comedy scene is something Mays is passionate about and that is the goal of the open mic and showcase nights at the Whiskey River, he said.

The showcase nights, around the end of the month on a Friday, feature nationally and regionally touring talents. The open mic nights are on the first Monday of each month and are open to anyone who wants to give stand-up a try.

"Ever since the Funny Bone in Huntington closed, there has sort of been a lack (of comedy)," Mays said.

But there have been other shows to pop up in the region, he said, including one at the Ashland Moose Lodge and in Beckley, W.Va. Mays has also performed at the Newport Funny Bone.

"It's alive and thriving here in the area," Mays said.

Mays is on Twitter. His handle is @OriginalLeeMays.


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