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Interview: Standup Greg Warren

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Sports has always been a big influence on comedian Greg Warren, both on stage and off. So popular are some of his sports-inspired characters, that they've found a life beyond the standup stage. For example, the wrestling character Wes Wesley, inspired by Warren's real-life experiences as a winning NCAA wrestler at the University of Missouri, has appeared in a series of web videos for Flowrestling.org.  A version of one of his new characters, the annoying assistant coach, makes a cameo in Marshall the Miracle Dog, a feature film due in 2015. Currently, Warren is planning to feature the original version of the character in a series of web videos.

[jump] "I'm not sure that people actually watch those," he laughs. "But he's an assistant life coach. The head coach will start talking, 'For you seniors, this may be the last time you play football...' Then his assistant coach will interrupt, 'Guys, we need the permission slips signed for the banquet.' That guy. I have him reading letters I wrote, and he gives people advice. It's always bad advice, and he has no idea what he's talking about."

Growing up in St. Louis, sports was always an interest of Warren's -- and still is. "It's my favorite time of year," he says. "I'm a big St. Louis Cardinals fan. The two things I follow most are St. Louis Cardinals baseball and University of Missouri wrestling. I'm a fair weather Missouri football fan, but they've been pretty good the past few years."

Actually, pro football in the form of the St. Louis football Cardinals was his first love growing up. "I was huge fan, but they left [for Arizona] and broke my heart," he recalls. "As big of a St. Louis baseball fan I am, I think I was a bigger football fan, but they left. After college, I moved to Houston and became an Oiler fan. That was during the [quarterback] Warren Moon days. Then they left [for Tennessee to become the Titans]. So, I've always resented the NFL. I know the NFL is such a big deal, but I don't know if I could ever be a wholehearted fan again, because they broke my heart twice."

The Rams, who came to St. Louis from Los Angeles in 1995, never really took with Warren. "I follow them because my dad's a fan. When I was back in St. Louis, before moving to New York, I went to a few games, and it was fun. I didn't live in St. Louis during the whole 'Greatest Show on Turf' era. I'll never have the affinity for them that I had for the [football] Cardinals."

Fortunately, while the football Cardinals were packing their bags, the baseball Cardinals were in the midst of a very successful run. "I remember being a fan in the late '70s, and they weren't very good then." During Warren's freshman year of high school though, the Cards won the 1982 World Series, and appeared two  more times during that decade. "It was an amazing run," Warren adds.

However, where sports can inspire some of his standup, current events and pop culture rarely do. "I do follow current events," he says. "It's so easy when you have a smartphone. I read Huffington Post, I look at Google News, but nothing really strikes me as funny. I have this rule that maybe I need to find a way around: I don't want to make fun of celebrities -- especially when something bad happens to them. So many news stories are about something bad happening to somebody. I don't want to make light of that." He isn't opposed to other comics doing that kind of comedy, adding "it's just not what I do."

IF YOU GO:

Greg Warren

18+; 21+ later shows

House of Comedy

408 E. Broadway, Mall of America, Bloomington

7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Thursday; 9:30 p.m. Saturday; 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

$13-$20

For tickets, call 952-858-8558 or visit houseofcomedy.net