It was a classmate in fourth grade who told Hooper he was going to grow up to be a standup comedian. At the time, he didn't connect his interest in comedy with his desire to see places outside his native North Carolina. "I know as a teenager I wanted to travel the globe -- even before I started doing comedy. It's not that I hated my hometown, I was just curious."
"Every year I have a dream list of cities I want to visit that I've never performed in. There's always four or five of those. I like leaving the country too, so I pick one trip out of the country a year and try to make that happen."
"I do the Bahamas every year," he adds. "Then last year I went to the Middle East as part of an armed-forces tour. It was five countries in two weeks, which was pretty intense. I did Japan on a different military tour. I did a festival for Stand-Up Records in Mexico earlier this year. I loved that."
Based in New York, Hooper is usually in the city only a few days at a time. "I line up four or five days of spots during the week here, then go back on the road for the weekends," he explains. "In August, though, I was here for three weeks straight. I don't think that's ever happened before. I've never been off the road for three weeks like that."
It makes him wonder if he'll ever be able to settle down in one place. "I have this itch; I have to leave places. Maybe after 12 years of doing this I've psychologically damaged myself. I don't know if I'd be able to sit still in one town for the rest of my life."
Even during a recent family vacation he was anxious to leave. "I just couldn't relax," he says. "My family wasn't doing anything to stress me out, but I was just looking at the ocean, and where I should have just been daydreaming I couldn't. I raced back to the airport in Charlotte to catch my flight back to New York. When I got into the security line, I was finally able to relax."
IF YOU GO:
The Joke Joint
801 Sibley Memorial Hwy., Lilydale
8 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 10:30 p.m. Friday; 7:30 and 9:45 p.m. Saturday
For tickets, call 651-330-9078 or visit Jokejointcomedyclub.com