You guys! Bob Smiley is hilarious! I had the privilege of meeting him at an event this summer. In this first of two episodes, Bob takes us down memory lane. Then he shares how that lane took a sharp turn from education major to stand-up comic.
00:44 Welcome to that makes total sense. I am your host Alexis SETI and I cannot wait for you to hear these next two episodes with my guest, comedian Bob smiley. Bob is currently touring with another comedy legend Tim Hawkins. Bob and I had the chance to meet at a benefit a few weeks ago in Galveston and he is hilarious, so I cannot wait for you to hear him. Bob keeps it raw and real and points us all to Jesus all at the same time. Here in this first episode, we’re going to hear Bob’s testimony and how he even landed in comedy in the first place. But be sure you stay tuned for the second one where he’s going to tell us about some twists and turns that he wasn’t expecting. Here’s my first conversation with Bob smiley.
Alexis: All right. Hey everybody, I am so excited to welcome you again to That Makes Total Sense! And today we have a special guest. I am so excited to have Bob Smiley with us today. He is a comedian that I saw at a fundraising event in Galveston not too long ago. And I’m telling you guys, he just connected with the audience. He told us a little bit about his story and he is hilarious. So thank you. Thank you. Thank you Bob for coming on the show today.
Bob: Yeah, my pleasure. So, um, yeah, that was a fun night. Like as me and comedian Mike Hickman, who I’ve been friends with forever and Michael Smalley and, um, anytime I can get together with my comedian friends, it’s, it’s awesome. And, um, you know, we, eh, sometimes it can be kind of a isolated life because you’re out, you know, uh, you know, you don’t have a real job that you’re going to and seeing people every single day. So whenever you get to actually show up to your job and there’s somebody else there, it, it, it makes it more interesting. In fact, my wife was like, are you, are you ready for the day? And I, it dawned on me this morning, my biggest thing, my biggest job today, since I’m not doing a show tonight, was untangling my headphones in case I wanted them for the interview. That, that was my big job today. And I’m –
Alexis: …that was your big task. Well, you know, when we were kids, I think we think, Oh, I’m going to be a lawyer. I’m going to be a surgeon. And you’re like, why? Oh, cause I wanna I want to argue in court or I’m going to be a comedian because I’m going to do this. And you’re like, okay. But you do that like a small fraction of the time. And then like the rest of your life, you’re untangling your microphone cords and your writing bits and your, you know, are the lawyers at his office doing research and meeting with clients and stuff like that. So like sometimes what we see isn’t always like, that’s not usually the biggest part of somebody’s job. And yeah,
Bob: I think that’s the biggest struggle for comedians is, uh, is not like coming up with stuff to say on stage. It’s coming up with stuff to do off the stage. Cause I like, seriously, I’m actually just now kind of discovering that as we’re talking about this in real time, like, um, a lot of comedians, they do deal with depression and addiction and stuff. And uh, I, I just got off a tour with Tim Hawkins. I don’t know if you know him.
Alexis: Oh my goodness. I was actually gonna mention that I love Tim Hawkins.
Bob: Yeah. He brings me out just to make sure that people come to his shows.
Alexis: Right? Yeah. Good for him. It’s his man.
Bob: Yeah. But we’re talking about, you know, a lot of comedians go through like some, you know, like some big addiction or you see drug overdose or, and I think it’s like, we honestly, we, we discussed it this weekend. We think it’s because the downtime is amazing. Like you, you work an hour maybe on Friday, hour on Saturday, and then you’re off all week, which is great for me because I have a wife and kids, so my days are full, you know, like I, we’ve already, you know, done a bunch of stuff this morning and, um, but a comedian that single and, and just on the road, like he’s sitting in a hotel by himself forever and ever. And so, yeah, I think that isolation like really starts messing with you. And so it is important to come up with, uh, like you said, when you’re looking at what job you want to go into, uh, what is your purpose in life? Not what is your purpose in just your job. Because really, if you’re fulfilling your purpose in life, you’re gonna be fulfilled in your job or whatever you do. And so I think, yeah, that’s like, well, this got really serious way, quick.
Alexis: Yeah, it did. I totally wasn’t expecting that. I’m like, we’ve got a comedian on this is going to be a hilarious episode. This is going to be so great. And then here we are, we’re talking about real life. Yeah. But I mean that’s part of why I wanted to have you on. You were, you were so funny, but, but kind of in the middle of it, you know, toward the end of your set, you just said, Hey, I don’t know if you guys know my story and you share just a little bit about that in the mix of, I think it was when you were talking about going into the prison when I talk about,
Bob: Oh yeah.
Alexis: As you know. But, uh, I loved that. And so I would love it if you would just share with us, you know, we’re going to be on, um, you’re going to be on two episodes with us and I know the first part we were talking about how you’re just gonna share your testimony and give us a little picture of, you know, because I think that’s the other part with comedians or people who are, who are famous for doing something. We sometimes as the audience, I’ll speak for myself, I think sometimes we don’t see you guys as whole people. We kind of see you as the thing that you do or this specific talent. But um, you guys, you guys have a story, everybody has a story. And um, I’m really interested to know, and I know our listeners are interested to know like this kind of Christian comedian thing. You have a walk with God and you have a history that brought you to where you are today. You’re not just funny. I mean you are funny, but um, so can you tell us about that? Like give us just a little bit of flavor of your testimony, how you came to know the Lord and, and what that looked like for you.
Bob: Yeah, so I grew up with loving, loving Christian parents, like very, very awesome parents. My dad, um, very active with me, um, you know, took me fishing and hunting and all this kind of stuff. My mom was just very nurturing, a loving mom. And so, um, and they, they’re very strong Christians, but I’m also very strong willed child. And so, uh, my parents I think did a really good job about presenting like, this is what we believe. And I was required to go to church, but they didn’t really force me. Like they wanted my faith to be my faith. So they, they lived out through example, um, of what Christ’s love look like and, and all that. They were really great examples, but, um, they didn’t really, except for making me go to church, I was required to go to church. They didn’t force anything else on me.
Um, which really was a great way to raise me because I didn’t, I didn’t feel like I needed to rebel against anything. And I was like, well, you know, I really respect my parents and if, if they believe this, then I want to look into it. And so I did, I started looking into it at my grandmother, I think actually told this joke on stage where my grandmother told me to read the Bible when I was young because young kids never read the Bible. And elderly people are reading it like crazy because it’s like they’re, they’re trying to cram for a final. Um, my grandmother actually did say that. And uh, uh, yeah. So I grew up like, just like loving going to church and loving my youth group. And, um, so my testimony actually is very boring. I have a friend that also has a very boring testimony and he wants said, we were listening to this other guy’s testimony at church. He was like, man, I wish I had been addicted to crack. Uh, yeah. So my, my testimony is boring, but I really like it because it’s my testimony. So I grew up, uh, uh, went to Abilene Christian university. Um,
Alexis: No joke! I have some friends that are at Abilene Christian.
Bob: Oh yeah, yeah. No, say you can’t put a price on Christian education, but man, they billed me for it. Um, so yeah, I went out, went out to Abilene Christian and um, was going to be a teacher. That was kind of my deal and all growing up, uh, it started with my dad. My dad was very, very funny, uh, all growing up. Uh, I think I may have said this on stage too, but this is another true thing. Uh, I don’t look like my dad. So I went to him one time and I was like, I don’t look like he was, I adopted and I mean as quick as he could. He was like, yes, but they brought you back. And uh, I mean he would do stuff like that. Actually, two, two years ago or three years ago, I was helping him during Thanksgiving. I was helping him bring some boxes down and I brought some boxes down and one of them was my mom’s ballet stuff from when she was little. My mom was like, Oh, I used to love to wear this too too, and my dad so quickly. And it was like, well nowadays it’d have to be a four, four.
Alexis: Oh yeah. Did she hit him?
Bob: I think with a four by four. Um, but yeah, so like I’ve always grown up loving comedy and also realizing it like my parents taught me early on that comedy has, is very powerful. Um, actually hold on. Well, no, that’s so unprofessional, but I’m a comedian so I can get away with it.
Alexis: Exactly what? I have my coffee right here too. So this is how we’re getting through the interview this morning guys. What’s it say on it? “Rise and shine,” right?
Bob: Oh, there we go. Yeah.
Alexis: I also have another one that says a “Homie, you don’t know me,” So I decided to be a little bit, you know, this is my nice cup today.
Bob: Yeah, we’ll get to this later. Probably in the second part of the, um, deal. But mine is from a, I’ve got two bonus kids, um, from my wife and um, it says they, these, these kids, it’s Mason and Dylan. They got this for me for father’s day, it says, dear Bob, thanks for being our bonus dad. If we had a different bonus dad, we would punch him in the face and go find you or Mason and Dylan,
Alexis: That’s the total best. I love that. We would punch him in the face and go find it. You know, it’s sincere.
Bob: Oh. And they totally like my kids. I have three, um, from previous and uh, my kids are kind of wondering if if, uh, her kids were going to fit in and when they saw that cup they were like, Oh yeah, this is,
Alexis: This is it. Yeah. Cause you have all boys do. I know we’ll get into that on the second part, but that’s totally a boy. That’s everything. That’s, that’s the life of a boy. Yeah. My seven year old, I think that’s his favorite phrase is punched him in the face.
Bob: Yeah. Once you move it. Yeah. And yeah, we’ll get into, but yeah, my wife is an amazing boy mom, when she’s totally cut out for it. So, um, it would be interesting, but yeah. So, uh, so growing up actually one time I was flying to a gig and um, I’d read an article that uh, um, and it was a, it was a medical journal and it said that laughter was 10 times more powerful than morphine. Um, and I wrote a joke about it that, you know, I’m glad God still made morphine cause if I broke my leg in half, I don’t want my doctor standing over me going, not, not, you know, like trying to call my mom, but that really resonated with me is 10 times more powerful than morphine. Um, because I’d seen that growing up, my dad was my school superintendent. I grew up in a town with 281 people in it. Like we total 281
Alexis: Not 281 people in this school?
Bob: No, I had 17 in my graduating class.
Alexis: That is, if that is that real life seventies school class that’s like, that’s like you’re the Duggars and you have 17 people in your, I mean, in your high school class.
Bob: I’m trying to decide if I can this I don’t think because I’m still friends with her. But my girlfriend in high school was in my class and we really did have 17. And the only reason why I remember that it was 17. I really hope she doesn’t listen to this, but when they, they pass out our class rankings when we were seniors and about to graduate. And she, I’m not gonna say her name isn’t, she was sitting right next to me and I was like, I gotta say her name. I was like, Amy, what’d you be? And uh, she goes, she goes 17. Oh cool. And then I’ve never counted how many kids were in our class. I don’t know why it was just <inaudible>, but then I had to count without her seeing that I counted was like, Oh, that’s why she dated me.
Alexis: That’s hilarious. Okay. So were you 16? Is that what you’re saying? Where are you saying that?
Bob: No, I was, wilt was, I was not good at school. Um, cause I really, yeah, what? Um, I think I was like, I was six or seven. I wouldn’t take great job. Yeah. Here’s the, here’s the thing that’s not funny, so I don’t ever talk about it, but this is the truth. Um, I was, I was a pretty good athlete. Like I still hold the scoring record for most points scored in a basketball game. Um, at my school I scored 41 points against prosper. Not that I’m still holding onto that
Alexis: Right. Not that you are for sure.
Bob: No. Uh, but I was, I was really good at sports, which is not funny on stage. It’s so much better to get on stage and make fun of yourself. Right. Nobody wants to hear a guy get up and brag about how good he is. But because I was good at sports and this was a very, very small school, um, a lot of teachers, this is horrible. And if kids, if this is happening to you, you need to stop it. You need to be smarter because I regret it now. But a lot of teachers would pass me because if you didn’t pass, you couldn’t play. No. Uh, so I knew I could coast on a lot of stuff.
Alexis: Right. That does happen in real life today, you know, with, with athletes. And I mean that’s another place we could go serious. I mean, that happens in with non-athletes, just trying to like, okay guys, let’s keep going here a little bit for this grade.
Bob: Yeah, I know. I’m like, I’ve been there. So it, it seems like that’s it. That’s an awesome thing. But kids are really cheating themselves out of a good education. Like I wish I would’ve learned more about history more. I can’t do any math because I just coasted through algebra, algebra two. Um, what else did I take? Uh, trigonometry and I mean capitals and I can’t do any of it. And my wife is, is a Wiz at math and like I just, I can’t keep up. And so, yeah. So I, so I actually was, um, how did we get on that topic?
Alexis: I dunno. Really good at…
Bob: Oh, so, so I was, yeah. So I would, I would, I would kind of get a pass in the classroom and stuff like that, but I’m a little where I was heading with his. So growing up my dad was my school superintendent and um, so I learned that comedy was a powerful tool. It’s like a, the first time I remember ever telling a joke, and I’m going to tell you up front, this is a dumb joke, but I was in second grade and I was sitting in the back of the class were most of the teachers always put me and we were doing a math lesson. And the question was, I remember the late, the a math teacher, Ms. Brown had put up the math question and it was five birthday candles plus three birthday candles equal how many birthday candles, right. I was sitting in the back and there was a kid named Lloyd who I can still picture it was up there and he couldn’t figure it out.
And so the teacher’s like, can anybody help? And so I raised my hand and she was like, Bobby. And so I stood up and this if, if they did a movie in my life, this would be like how we open with the movie. I stood up and I thought of the joke as I was walking up to the front of the crowd. And so I already had my set lists go on in my head. And so I walked up and I was like, well Lloyd, it seems simple. You have five birthday candles and you’re adding three birthday candles. So you counted it up. That’s eight birthday candles. Come on. It’s a piece of cake and the crowd goes wild, right? The crowd went deathly silent like it was just every kid was just scared. And my teacher, Ms. Brown was standing next to me and she goes, and that was it.
That’s all she gave me. It was just that, huh? And so I sat down, here’s why I tell this story and this is why if we were doing a movie in my life, I would open with this. I was leaving that day from school. We were all like, everybody’s falling out. And she told me, she called me over to her desk. She was like, Bobby, come here. And I went over and she was like, I was having a really bad morning and I have thought of that birthday candle joke so many times throughout the day. She said, that really brightened up my day, so thank you for that. I said, yeah, it was so cool. And I walked out of, even though it was second grade, I walked out of that classroom going, wow, comedy’s powerful. Yeah, it can change people’s outlook. So even though I didn’t want to be a comedian, like I, I made a mental note that I was always going to use comedy and I watched my dad use comedy and my dad would come eat lunch with me when I was in high school.
He’d come eat lunch with me every once in a while. Um, because he was on the campus and again, very, very small school. And so my dad would come into the cafeteria and he was a superintendent, so he wasn’t supposed to be liked, but he, he like everybody loved him. Right. Sit down with me. And everybody would flock to our table because they wanted to hear he and I just be funny like when you get there. So we were the cool table just because of comedy and so all growing up I really had learned like, okay, comedy is a powerful tool. And then people always ask if I was like the class clown and I wasn’t because I respected my teachers enough. So I would think of funny things to say, but I wouldn’t say it. And then I discovered in high school they knew I was funny by then. And so if I would, if I would sit there and I’d go like that and just laugh a little bit, a lot of the times the teachers would go, what are you thinking? I would get to say what normally the class clown would. It just blurted out and then got, but because I was expecting my teachers and they knew I wasn’t trying to wreck the class, they would, they would actually end up letting me say whatever I wanted to say cause they knew I wasn’t trying to, you know,
Alexis: That’s, that’s, that’s like an incredible testimony for life. Like you have this gift that you’re so good at that God has blessed you with and then it’s like, but I’m not going to force it on people. And then when you don’t and people know it’s there, they’re like begging you for it. They’re asking me for it because they know it’s going to brighten their day. Just like your second grade teacher. Like they know that it’s probably going to be a welcome break or it’s, it’s, I love quick-witted people. I am, I am married to a quick witted man. My husband set is so, he’s just so quick with stuff. And really for a long time we’ve been married 16 years and when we first got married, okay. And when we were dating, I kind of used to pretend that I didn’t think he was that funny.
Like he was like one of the funniest people that we knew and he’s just, you know, like, but he’s real dry, so it’s kind of these, he do these puns and he’s just real quick with his words. And I used to pretend I didn’t think he was funny and he would say, that’s okay because in every comedy duo there’s a straight man and you’re a straight man. Like every comedy you do a has tabs straight man, you’re my straight man. And so I lived the straight man for a long time until I just couldn’t help it anymore. And I’m like, the man is funny. Like he’s serious. But he, but he, anyway, he’s just real quick and I love it. And so when you, when you’re like that, I think it’s not just the laughter for me. I appreciate how smart people like that are, you know, it’s, I’m like, I can never think of that. That’s so fast. And then you just, I dunno, they really, I really respect people like that for their brains. Not just because you’re funny, but I’m like, man, because you’re just so smart to think of stuff like that.
Bob: Yeah. My wife, my wife is always saying like, man, I wish I could see the world the way you see it. And I’ll be honest, she’s waste smarter than me. Like, um, like I said, any kind of testing, any kind of like book knowledge. Uh, she was homeschooled pretty much all her life. She made, uh, you know, 4.0 at Baylor university, not as sponsored. Um, and so like, she’s very, very intelligent. Um, but the way I see the world and process it is so different from her. And she’s like, I wish I could just have a glimpse into that just for a little while. So yeah, it’s a, you do have to have, I think you do have to have your brain kind of firing on all cylinders to be able to, to be quick and to process something and then want to, you know, turn around and then, and then paint it out as a picture of what else can see exactly what you’re seeing in your brain.
Alexis: But it reminds me, I was going to ask you this, when you were talking about your dad, and this is a totally random question, you may get this all the time, but do you think that people are like born funny? You know that like there’s some people that like you just go, Oh my goodness, like he just has this gift of piano or they’re just like the same crap. You know, I saw this gymnast, my girls were taking this little tumbling class and there was another girl there who was three, this is years ago, and the moms are just staring at her and we’re like, we’ve never seen, you know, like when tiger woods could do this at three. And we’re like, Oh that’s that girl. Like our kids kind of look like a bunch of monkeys. Kind of wondering her and this, there’s this one chick who is just on fire and we’re like, that’s what you see. Like that’s the, that’s the future Olympic star. Right. But I’m like, but with comedy, with bunny, I’m like, do you mean people are just born funny? I kind of do.
Bob: I absolutely do. I, I’m a huge believer in the fact that I think God has given us all individual talents. And by individual, I mean even down to a minute, a minute way to, to even speak or mastery or actions. Um, so everybody, you know, like God can give several people, uh, the ability to play golf well, but each one of those abilities is going to be a little different in its own way. Everybody’s going to be. Um, and so I believe that there are people that are born funny. I remember. So my dad was taking, um, his best friend was very, very funny and they would go quail hunting all the time. And I remember one time when I was maybe second or third grade and they took me and his son. And so we’re sitting, um, all of this was totally illegal now, but we were all sitting in the front of the truck with no seatbelts or anything.
And we’re squashing, uh, me and his son are squash in the middle of a seat of this truck. And my dad’s driving and his best friends against the window, and they’re just being funny. Like quick-witted, just banter. And this kid kept wanting to talk to me and I, and, and I remember, I think maybe it was second grade or third grade, but, um, I remember telling him to be quiet because I wanted to listen to this. <inaudible> yeah. I was trying to figure out like how is this, but they’re just writing this in their head and this is like a sitcom back and forth. I was born fascinated with comedy and fascinated with figuring out how jokes are written and again, seeing how my dad used humor to, to encourage people and help people. And you know, my dad was always, because it was a small school, um, people were always coming to him with problems and you know, if he didn’t use a little bit of humor to break the ice, like, you know, it just would’ve been a lot of doom and gloom and stuff. And so I learned early on, but I think I was honestly born with, uh, with this desire that God had had put into my DNA, um, to, to really study and appreciate humor and to be able to do it. Hopefully.
Alexis: So you went, but you went to school thinking you were going to be a teacher. So when did that more for you? Like how long have you been on stage and when did you realize that you wanted to not just use humor in other parts of your life but make humor like your day job?
Bob: I’m embarrassed by this answer, but it took me three years of doing stand up full time before it dawned on me that I could actually do it, which is, yeah. So I’ll tell you the whole story. Um, so I was going to be a teacher. I was going to follow my dad’s footsteps. Basically. I was going to be, that’d be a principal. Yeah. Then to be a superintendent. And, um, so I was getting my degree and everybody kept coming up to me and telling me that I should do stand up. My first week at Abilene Christian, uh, this guy who I did not know, um, we had, you know, welcome week where everybody goes. And so I, I kind of made myself known just by being funny and a lot of the groups and stuff. But this kid just came up to meet, didn’t know who he was and he was like, Hey, you should do a bit about a hotel soap being small. And I was like, what do you mean to do a bit? And he’s like, you know when you do stand up you should do a bit about hotel. So, and I was like, I don’t do stand up. And he goes, I’m a freshman. And he goes, wait, but you will. So when you do it, like remember that like, and then he’s wearing, I was like, ah, what just happened? Cause I’m not going to do stand up. And people like,
Alexis: At Abilene Christian, do we say that he had a prophetic word for you? I don’t know if we can say that at Abilene, I’m thinking right. This guy had a word for you.
Bob: We, so it happened again. It happened several times. I’ll tell you one more because I do believe that this kind of stuff happens. I was out fishing, uh, late at night, Fort Phantom. Um, it’s like two in the morning fishing with a good buddy of mine named Patrick who had amazing vocal skills and operas were already courting him too. And so we, like, we were out there fishing and he was like, and he was like this total rock and roll, like real tough dude. So it was, it was weird. He was, he was going back and forth whether he wanted to go into the opera world, cause he knew he could do it. Like, and I remember he is fishing in it and he goes, a man, some of our friends, they just don’t get what we’re doing. And I was like, what do you mean what we’re doing?
And he’s like, you know, that we want a different lifestyle. Like we could actually go out and have a different lifestyle than, than what normal people do with their normal nine to five jobs. And, and I was like, Patrick, I’m, I’m going to be a teacher. And he goes, he didn’t even look at me. He goes, no, you’re going to do stand up. And, uh, no way. And I’m gonna, I’m going to be touring and doing opera and I mean their lives are just going to be, you didn’t even leave it up to discussion. Well this was like, no, you’re going to do standing up like so that’s wild. Yeah, it was kinda crazy. And none of that meant anything to me until I look back on how God orchestrated. My junior year in college, I, uh, had a, they had a stand up competition and I was not, I wasn’t even going to sign up because I’d really didn’t have any desire to do stand.
I loved watching stand up but didn’t want to do it. Uh, and I remember the lady that was put in on it was high school weekends, so they were trying to come up with all this like fun activities. Um, so the high school people would be like, Oh, ACU is amazing. And so they, they had, you know, all this stuff. But, um, one of the, one of the things they came up with was a standup competition. So the lady that was putting it on called me and she was like, how come you didn’t sign up? Cause when we came up with the idea, we thought you and I had a friend named Mark who was really funny and she was like, we thought you guys would sign up but you didn’t. And we’re really afraid that it’s going to be bad. And I was like, well, I just don’t want to do standup.
I know everybody keeps thinking that I do and you know, all this. And she goes, cause I was kinda known for being cheap. Like I wouldn’t get girls flowers. I would give them like I’d give them seeds. So it’s totally true. That really is true. So, um, so yeah, so I, uh, like it’ll teach you perseverance. It’s fine. Just, yeah, well that free now. So, yeah. So it was, uh, but I really was, I was always very frugal. Um, and, but the, the lady said that she was like, well, we know, you know, it’s kind of rumored how frugal you are. She used the word frugal, which I thought was sweet, you know, and, um, she said like, you know, we thought the cash prize would’ve been tied to you. And I was like, hold on. Right. And she goes, yeah, first prize is 500 bucks.
And I was like, okay. Oh, I didn’t know that. So can I do that? And so I ended up doing that standup competition. I ended up winning, not because I was good. Everybody else was absolutely terrible and they really work. One guy had a hit, one guy had a sombrero and his whole act was leaning over the front row going, shouldn’t have sat on the front row. My sombrero is going to fall on you. Okay. And that’s it. That was his app. So I had some jokes about the zoo and, uh, student loans and stuff like that. And, um, so I won and I thought, what a great, you know, story. I’ll be able to tell my grandkids that I want to stand up competition. So I graduated before I became a teacher, I wanted to see what it was like to make money. And so I and I, cause they don’t get paid what they should.
That’s true. That’s true. And I am very anti debt. So I wanted to get like a nest egg saved up, get college taken care of. I wanted to be financially secure before I started teaching. So I didn’t pick a job based on finances. Right. I worked for this a photographer friend of ours and um, I did that for a year and I was going to say, you see how long, you know I was going to do that before I start teaching and yeah, I was driving on six 35 in Dallas, Texas and my pager. Yeah, right. I mean yeah, ourselves. But your pager. Yes. I made that kind of money and my pager went off and it said area code six one five and I didn’t know what it was. So I pulled over to the Cracker barrel payphone and I dialed this number and this guy was like, Hey, it’s Rick Wooten.
I’d gone to school with him and he was like, Hey, I’m road managing and I’m in Nashville. I’m road managing this. A guy named clay cross. She was a Christian singer. We leave for tour in a couple of weeks and clay said it’d be fun to have a comedian come out. No way. Yeah. And he goes and I’ve gotta hire a merge guy to do merge. And he goes, I don’t know what you’re doing, but I saw you do this standup competition, uh, our junior year. And um, so would you like to go on tour with us? Are you kidding me? No, this is how I got into stand up. That’s incredible.
Alexis: I feel like some, some people may not. Like look Google “Clay Cross” because we’re, we have to be similar to that age. I totally remember him.
Bob: Oh yeah. I surrender all had just hit number one. Um, the song like crazy. So it was uh, it was as big tours, uh, Tom to believe tour and I didn’t know who he was cause I grew up this little country kid, so I didn’t listen to music much less. We didn’t have Christian music, so I didn’t listen to any music. In fact, the first festival I ever emceed, I didn’t know who any of these Christian artists were. And I’m standing on the stage in front of about 11,000 people and I, I didn’t know any Christian bands. And I was like, and now for a headliner, uh, D C Oh,
Alexis: Everybody’s dying laughing cause this something, I’m making a joke, right? And you’re like down because I couldn’t remember.
Bob: I couldn’t remember D C I was afraid I was going to say the wrong letters or mess it up. And so I didn’t know, you know, and Jesus Lake had been out for like six months at that time.
Alexis: Oh my goodness. Jesus Freak was my first CD, by the way. Like the first actual CD I bought, I used to work at a, um, back in the day we had, you remember these, but we had stores right where we bought music and we bought the physical, physical albums and videos and we rented them for 99 cents. And I was working and I bought my first actual CD in real life and it was Jesus freak.
Bob: Oh that’s so great. I actually, I went to a blockbuster after I got this phone call to look up cause click crosses a CDs were in blockbuster and I went there. I didn’t buy it cause I’m cheap, but I wanted to see what he looked like. And so I w I went, sure. So, Oh back to my story. I’m so I’m sitting in a Cracker bro, pay phone and he goes, do you want to go on tour with us? I had no idea it was about to change my life completely. And I was like, uh, how long has it tour? And he was like, well it’s like six weeks, but we’re probably going to add two more weeks onto it. And I was like, um, yeah, yeah, okay, I’ll do that. I was so flippant. So I flew to Nashville, got off a plane, got onto a tour bus, went out on tour as a comedian. And I had done stand up. Actually I had done stand up three in my life.
Alexis: I was going to ask, it was the junior year that the only time you’d ever been on stage as a comic, but you had done it two more.
Bob: Yeah. My, my girlfriend in college, um, her mom passed away from cancer and so we went to, we went back to their home church and their youth leader, I still can’t believe we did this, but they, they had gotten the youth group back together cause there’s a small like, um, you know, country, uh, way out in the country kind of deal. And so everybody had come back, um, from the youth group and then the current youth group and everything. So it was a pretty big crowd. Um, just to be there and comfort her and all that. And so the youth leader came to me and he was like, Hey, I hear you’re funny. And I was like, well, you know, I, yeah. And he was like, okay, I just, if you can just do about 10 minutes, what do you mean about 10 minutes? He goes, Hey, I’m just going to introduce you. And I was like, Nope, no, no, no, I’m not, I’m not a comedian. And he goes, no, you’ll be good. Hey everybody, come on. They just
Alexis: No. Yeah, you had no material. You had nothing.
Bob: No material. So got up and uh, yeah, I did about, I think I ended up actually doing like 15 minutes. Um, cause I, I got on a rant about a, the town was called Merkel and so I got on a rant about like possible, um, what did I do possible mascots for the school and stuff like that. It was, um, but yeah, so I did that. I did a, the standup competition my junior year and then because I’m cheap, my fraternity said that I didn’t have to pay for my senior banquet. Um, if I did stand up as entertainment for the banquet.
Alexis: Oh, that’s rich. I love it. You had three experiences. I mean, what total an hour maybe on stage doing comedy.
Bob: The frat thing was about 25 minutes. The standup thing was 10. And then I think I did about 15 at the <inaudible> of my girlfriend’s mom’s funeral.
Alexis: Right. You’re going onto her with a number one selling Christian artist as, as the comedian.
Bob: Yeah. That’s what, when people come up after the show, a lot of kids can did this in um, Alabama this weekend. He was like, Hey, I want to be a comedian. How do I do it? And I’m like, we’ll do a standup competition your junior year in college and wait for Tony to call you. I got no good advice at all.
Alexis: Right, right. Oh my goodness. So, so sorry. So you’re, you’re, you get on a bus.
Bob: Yeah. I’ll actually like, if we want to segment this out, I’ll, this is, this is what I discovered. I was willing to do something for God. I just, I didn’t care what I did. I just wanted to do something for God. God obviously wanted me to do stand up, but I was very, very reluctant because I didn’t think I could do it. I didn’t think that you could even like do stand up in churches. I didn’t look into it even though people all through my life had told me. So I do honestly believe though the fact that I was willing to do whatever God wanted me to do, I still had my plan. Like I want to be a teacher, a principal, a superintendent. I was still mapping out my life, but I was open to wherever God wanted to lead me. And I honestly think because of that, God not only opened the doors for me to go into stand up, I think he actually kicked me in to it. There was no way I was going to pursue it on my own. And so I think he used a pager and a Cracker bell payphone and a random standup competition where the lady was putting it on, actually called me and kind of begged me to do it
Alexis: Right. And there was a cash prize.
Bob: I think God used $500 to get a hold of my life. No, I just, but yeah, I honestly believe like all that was orchestrated because I was open, willing. So that’s what I would, I mean, I don’t know if you give advice on here, but I it every day if you can wake up and what does it, uh, first is it first John? Three 30 years. I know it’s just John three 30 where John the Baptist says, what John three 30, where John the Baptist, everybody, uh, his disciples come to him and they’re mad because now everybody’s going to get baptized with Jesus’ disciples. And they’re like, was everybody going in there? And John Abada said a great thing. He goes, Hey, I told you all along, I’m not him. I’m just saying prepare. And so John three 30 says, um, uh, he goes, he must become greater and I must become less right.
And I was like, I tried to live that every single day. Wake up and go, you know what, today, Jesus, you be greater, a little bit greater and let me be a little bit less. And I think if you have that attitude, then thing that opens up for God to start guiding you through life of what you want to do. If he, if, if he is truly the guiding light in your, in your path and um, and I think you can end up doing, stand up all your life instead of, you know, what you thought you were going to do.
But that takes, that’s so good. But it takes so much courage because I know her work and her because I’m like, I know me. But you know, one of my favorite verses that I’ll butcher if I try and quote it from, from one of the Peters is talking about how we love him even though we can’t see him. And it’s like, you know, for him, this, this, this person who we can’t see to become greater and greater every day in our lives and for us to become less. That takes a lot of courage because I’m like, even though I met mess up and even though I’m not that great, I still know me. Like there’s, you know, there’s something about me that I know and if, and if it’s all me, then okay, it made me messy, but I know me. But to rely on him to say, okay, I want you to be more in me to be less. That takes a lot of courage because I’m thinking about you going, Oh yeah, I’m going to go on tour, right, for six, maybe eight weeks. Sure. I’ve done this three times in my whole long legged life. Like I’ve done it three times. Like that’s courage, but, but for you to recognize that you’re just open and if God is saying, and I think if hello God was saying, do this bro, like on just step out, just do this. That’s incredible. It also took some pressure off. I mean, I was riding like crazy on the plane going to Nashville because I knew three days I was going to be onstage in front of, you know, 1200 people. And so I was, I was a little bit panicked, but it also kind of took the pressure off of, well, if this is what God wants me to do, Oh, that’s your, that’s your first question actually. Like, um, how long before I knew I could do this? Oh look, I’m actually gonna be a pleasant, uh, so I did. So I did that tour and then I did the, uh, the Newsboys saw me and asked me to, um, open for them. Oh my goodness. I’m standing in front of like four or 5,000 people a night and still don’t really know what I’m doing, but I’m like learning.
And then youth leaders started seeing like their kids laugh at the show and so they started me to come in there. So you ask like how long before I knew I could do this, I was married and had our first son and living in a small little starter home that I’d purchased in Nashville. And I was sitting at my kitchen table and I was writing a joke and I always had this mentality of I was going to do this until the shows ran out because I really, I’m a teacher and I’m going to go back to Texas and start teaching when all the shows run out. And I was riding a joke and I thought, I don’t even know why I’m working on this. I don’t like this joke. And again, I’m not really a comedian and I’ve been doing it for three, three and a half years at this point.
Wow. I look up, cause I had a dry erase board with all my shows on it and I go, I don’t even know how long I’m going to be doing this comedian thing and I look up, am I like the dry erase board was just full of shows. Wow. That was I, this is how slow I am. That was in the moment where I was pulled back and I was like <inaudible>, Oh this is what I do. Right. I’m making it as a comedian. I’m in a house that I bought by jokes like it and it don’t like it. And that’s when I really sat back and I looked at like the path of like, how did I get to this point? There’s no sign of these shows running out. Like, like we’re not like people keep calling and people want to did, like there was, there were several times throughout my career where God really was like, Nope, I got you, I got you.
Um, all the shows didn’t run out. And, uh, my oldest son was, uh, he was a year old. We were again living in Nashville, making a house payment. Um, and so, uh, and my wife didn’t work, so it was all kind of like on me. And, uh, I didn’t have any shit. I had three shows in four months and they were all like $700, um, shows and that didn’t include travel. So I’m not making hardly anything. I have a little nest egg and you know, that we’re living off of, but I don’t have anything. So I’m like, well, I guess that’s it for the standup run like that, you know, it was a good run. And so I get a job interview because I’m going to work in a, um, in a warehouse and I’m going to make banners because I knew this guy that knew the guy that owned the banner shop and it was going to be sweaty and, and you know, not fun work, but I knew that he would hire me right away.
So I was gonna make banners until I finished out those shows. In those four months. And then the plan was we were going to move back to Texas and I was going to start teaching. Wow. And so I got a job interview on a Tuesday morning and I was getting ready to leave that morning and walk out on my deck. And I really, I was trying to have that mentality of like, I’ll do anything for my family. I’ll work any job, you know. But honestly, when it came time to go out of my house to go to this interview, I was like, Oh, I don’t want to work in a sweaty warehouse. And I was starting to walk out and the phone rang and it was a, the Newsboys and they were like, and they were like Bombay. And I was like, Hey. And they were like, they’d be like, what you doing?
And I was like, I didn’t want to tell him I was about to go do an interview. Yeah. And they were like, uh, how many shows you got? And I was like, uh, well, I don’t want to brag, but for the next four months I’ve got three shit. And he goes, he goes, and I forget the number, but I think it was like 68 he was like, um, we got 68 do you want to tour with us again? And all of a sudden I was like, ah, yeah, but hang on, I’ve got to call this banner guy and tell him I’m not coming in. So it’s stuff like that. Like even leading up to like the moment I’m, I’m willing to take care of my family, I’m willing to do whatever. I feel like God maybe is like a test. It was like Abraham taking Isaac up. Like I’ll sacrifice my career, I’ll do whatever it takes to, to show that I am dedicated to my family. And God’s like, okay, just wanna make sure you don’t love comedy more than you love your friends. And, and then all of a sudden, Oh, here’s another tour with the news voice to do. Yeah, it was great.
Alexis: That’s incredible. And I actually think this might be a good place to pause because I’m like, I’m so excited about where this is going and where you have been. And I’m just like amazed at your story, but I know that we’ve talked and when you said on stage, I don’t know if you guys know my story, this is not what you were talking about and is the backstory to it. So I want to say to our listeners, I know you have enjoyed this part with Bob so far and this like amazing, Oh my goodness, how did he get here? But once he got here, there were some other things that were thrown into his path that Bob had to really rely on his faith in God four. So Bob, would you, can we pause and you can come back with us next time and kind of continue this story and show us that there were maybe some other, some other, I don’t know if they were phone calls, conversation, some other things that were unexpected but didn’t leave you as excited as that news voice conversation did that day.
Bob: Yeah, absolutely.
Alexis: All right. Awesome. Thank you so much Bob. I wait for next time,
Alexis: So thank you again so much for listening. Don’t forget to subscribe so you won’t miss an episode. Share the link with your friends. You can visit us thatmakestotalsense.com and until next time, this is Alexis Busetti, remembering to do well for ourselves so we can do good for others.