Drew Hastings lives on a farm in southwest Ohio. But the comedian hardly stands behind the microphone as the stern, pitchforked, and overalled picture of an American Gothic.
Hastings dresses in Euro cafe black. He wears the thick plastic spectacles of a downtown hipster. Rather than harvest dinner from the fields, he orders pizza.
Of course, Dominos would never deliver to the boonies, where a possum trolling through the corn stalks sounds exactly like three men with an axe.
You have to drive up to the New Market Community Center, about six miles up the road, pull in the parking lot, and flash your lights like it s a drug deal Do you have the pizza? Do you have the money? Hastings said on his comedy CD, I Have No Fight With You People.
Hastings will tape an hour-long special for Comedy Central at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at the Valentine Theatre, 400 North Superior St. DVD sales and higher booking fees will likely follow for the 52-year old, who entered comedy about 20 years ago.
He had a trucking and storage company, a life stable enough that the probability outweighed the possibility of him suffering a heart attack while sitting behind a desk performing the vague task of administering.
Hastings wanted to do something creative.
He settled in Los Angeles, exhausted his savings while honing his stand-up routine, and voila had a comedy career at an age when most administrators think about getting a pontoon boat.
But Hollywood s relentless quest for a vague mainstream appeal can grind a comic s sharp edge into a spoon.
Hastings said the attitude was creatively stifling and painfully na ve of the Midwestern base laughing at his routine.
They think everyone in the Midwest is a pig farmer or a pig farmer s brother, said Hastings, who left Los Angeles after more than a decade for a 40-acre farm that once contained hogs and now consists of him planting hardwood trees while trying to quit smoking.
The Midwest is more fertile for his mind than any stabs at a Green Acres lifestyle. Hastings talks about the retiree in the new casino yanking down on a slot machine lever just as he once operated a punch press at the factory.
The whole scene makes him wonder if the heartland has really changed or whether we simply have an idealized vision of the Midwest that never was to begin with.
His opinion about the region goes back to The Music Man. In that Broadway musical, Professor Harold Hill (boasting credentials from a conservatory in Gary, Ind.) convinces River City that they can overcome their alleged pool-hall infestation if the children form a band with instruments bought from him, the smooth-talking con man.
I think the Music Man is alive and well, only he s selling meth instead of band instruments, Hastings said.
Or, the music man might just be unwilling to go the extra six miles to deliver a pizza. All the better for the comedian.
Drew Hastings performs at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at the Valentine Theatre, 400 North Superior St. Tickets are $26 and are available at the Valentine or by calling 419-242-2787.
Contact Joshua Boak at:firstname.lastname@example.org 419-724-6728.