A two-year stint as a high school English teacher in Nashville taught Jeff Havens a valuable lesson: Children should never be named after a flavor of Jello.
"I learned what not to name kids," he said, after seeing that the name of one of his students (pronounced Lee-MON-gel-o) was spelled Lemonjello. "That's what you give him? He's a pudding cup. I think some parents should be in jail for that."
Havens is now a stand-up comedian who spends a portion of his routine poking fun at the crazy names parents give their children.
But he also points out that some of the words and phrases in the English language, including curse words and sesquipedalophobia - a fear of long words - can be just as ridiculous.
Havens, 28, of Madison, Wis., will bring his act to Toledo's Connxtions Comedy Club for four days next week.
"It's an R-rated show, but it's a fun show and it's a high-energy show," he said. "I do a lot of odd facial expressions and hand gestures and things with my voice so I don't sound the same way. It usually works and people pay attention. I'm not fighting with a lot of cell phones anymore."
Havens - the son of Rex Havens, who has been performing stand-up comedy for nearly 20 years - has been a full-time comedian and professional speaker for several years, performing for audiences at clubs, colleges, and corporations in more than 30 states and parts of Canada.
His first career choice wasn't to be a comedian, though. It was to be an author.
He wrote his first fantasy novel when he was 13 after becoming inspired by The Lord of the Rings. "It's simply atrocious. It's utterly awful," he said of his first try at writing.
But he's gotten much better since then. His book Reality, The Novel, was published by Academy Chicago Publishers in 2006.
Coupled with his writing, Havens said he's happy now traveling around the country making people laugh.
"It's such a fun job. I get to stand up and tell jokes that I think are funny and people laugh," he said. "And when I get done, people clap. It's a childish ego boost, but when I was teaching, I never had people stand up and clap for a good lesson."
Jeff Havens will appear at Connxtions Comedy Club, 5319 Heatherdowns Blvd., at 8 p.m. Wednesday and Feb. 22. Tickets are $8, and $3 for college students with a college ID. He'll also appear at the club at 8 and 10:30 p.m. Feb. 23 and Feb. 24. Tickets are $12, with no college student discount. Information: 419-867-9040.
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