Like many comics, James Johann landed in the standup business after washing out at a number of other vocations. "I used to be a welder," he recalls. "I don't know what I made. They never even told me what I was working on. It might have been golf carts; it might have been the space shuttle. I don't know." He got the notion to get onstage from an unlikely career counselor. "My mom one day said, 'You know, you think you're so damned funny. Why don't you go down to the comedy club and find out?'" She even gave him a lift. "I was hooked instantly. I knew that it was something I wanted to pursue," he says. These days, another of his kinfolk works with him on his material. That writing partner happens to be his non-comedian brother. "He should be [a comic]," Johann states. "My brother's probably funnier than I am, to be honest with you. A lot of things that he says I'll take to the stage." Johann is also trying to get his Rural Genius radio segment on more stations around the country. "I've got seven or eight now," he says. "I'm kind of a Dr. Phil-billy. People write me questions, and I try to give them good advice about life, love, and happiness. It's all tongue-in-cheek, and it's become part of my show. Not a big part, but at the end I'll do some letters if people want to hear them." The Payloa, Kansas, native lives by his motto: keeping it rural. "I've always worked in the Midwest and the middle of the country," he explains. "I've never had the urge to go to L.A. or New York and get in line for a TV show. I fit in better here. I've gone to the coasts, and I've done shows out there, but mainly I like it in Minnesota, Illinois — places like that." 18+.
Nov. 8-12, 8 p.m.; Nov. 11-12, 10:30 p.m., 2011
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