Jake Johannsen started his career on a lark. After shuffling through
a series of majors during his college days in Iowa, he landed a role in
a play where he met "a guy who said he was a comedian from Chicago."
The young Johannsen struck up a friendship with the Windy City comic,
who shortly thereafter split to make a name for himself in San
Francisco. "I've got a good idea: I'm gonna drop out of college and go
with him!" Johannsen recalls. "I didn't even really know what standup
comedy was. I didn't know what I was getting into, but I knew what I
was getting out of." Johannsen would go on to become the epitome of the
journeyman comic; he's never starred in a summer blockbuster or helmed
a sitcom, but he's toured relentlessly for more than two decades,
recorded specials for HBO and Comedy Central, and has been christened a
favorite by David Letterman, appearing on his show more than 35 times.
Johannsen says his career is a model for achieving success without
going insane. "Showbiz is built on this premise that you might be the
next biggest star in the world," he says. "Sure, it would be great to
be as successful as Robin Williams in terms of audience and money, but
from what I've seen, the good times I've had, and the life that I lead,
I'd put mine up against his, I think. I'm having fun." Johannsen's
enjoyment is contagious, and his witty but accessible material is laced
with just enough dark humor to keep audiences slightly off-balance.
Wednesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Fridays, Saturdays, 10:30 p.m. Starts: May 27. Continues through May 30, 2009