Comedian Dan Whitehurst:
Clean Comedy Is So Hard
When most people see law enforcement officials, especially police officers, they tend to get nervous or perhaps even avoid them.
This does not apply to Dan Whitehurst.
Dan, at one point in his life, was an Armed Robbery Detective for the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department. In 2002, he was named Metro’s Investigator of The Year. However, in his free time he used some of his unusual and challenging situations to write jokes.
The first six years of his comedy career were spent flying under the radar. Most of his co-workers were not aware that Dan was moonlighting as a stand-up comedian, performing his jokes at various venues, and eventually becoming a regular at Zanies Comedy Club in Nashville.
But in 2001 Dan won the title of “World’s Funniest Cop” from the American Society for Law Enforcement Training.” In May of 2005, Dan hung up his badge and ended his 19 years of service in law enforcement.
He was hand-picked to open for beloved Tennessee treasure Janet “The Tennessee Tramp” Williams in the early stages of his career. He has performed all over the United States and has had several headlining opportunities as well. (And I was fortunate enough to perform on the bill of a couple of his headlining shows.)
Dan is a true comedic talent, and he was always very kind and willing to offer suggestions and advice to up-and-coming comics, as I discovered first hand. Aside from performing with me, Dan has also performed with Ralphie May, Tim Wilson. Killer Beaz, Josh Blue, Emo Phillips, and he has also appeared on the nationally syndicated The Bob and Tom Show. Dan has also been working on the television series Nashville.
I was recently informed that Dan has been doing a live recording of his act for a CD, so I caught up with him and discussed it in further detail:
What made you decide to do a live CD taping?
I have been wanting to do one for awhile now. I have been getting to headline shows recently in the last couple of years in a few rooms, and proved to myself that I could do a good 50 minutes or so of material. I try to be as clean as possible, but I have had that fear that sometimes dirty jokes are easier and sometimes I have taken the easier route, but I never have wanted to take an easier route on a CD. I used to be more of a one-liner comic but now it is more storytelling and most of the stories are based in truth and are a lot cleaner jokes, and so with that I decided to go ahead and put a live CD out.
Have you ever performed in front of people you have arrested?
No, I never had, but I have a story that involves an arrest I had made. When Facebook had come about I had been on Facebook about a year or so, and I had got a friend request, and I would accept anybody basically because I don’t know half the people on my Facebook feed. But this person, I thought to myself, the name sounds kind of familiar. Yes, I accept, and then she proceeded to give me a good chewing out for arresting her, and the arrest happened way back in 1990, and the Facebook friendship began in 2012. So she carried that grudge with me for quite a while.
Tell us about your acting stint on the TV show Nashville?
I have really enjoyed it so far, and I have made a lot of friends. Just because mostly it is just sitting around, and it is pretty boring, and you are there 11 or 12 hours at times. I have not really been on the show very much at all. I think I have seen myself one time and maybe a glimpse one other time. I am always in the background kind of, just a crowd scene guy mostly. But I do really enjoy it. They feed you great, you meet a lot of really nice people, and I am not an actor, I know I am not an actor, but I like to see the people who have those dreams who are there pursuing it. It is really a whole lot of fun hanging out with them.
Why do you think it is more of a challenge to write and deliver clean jokes as opposed to dirty ones?
I don’t really know why it is. But it just seems more to me, and I could be wrong because I truly love clean comedy, that there is that shock value with a dirty joke that you don’t get with a clean joke. To me it is easier, and I have had people and comedians that will debate you all day on that. Clean comedy is harder, I think it takes more effort to do it, and that is for me and is my opinion. I have seen and had dirty jokes in the past that really were funny and people laugh, but I have never been the type of comic that felt that comfortable doing dirty jokes, really, to be honest. I work with comedian Etta May a lot now, and she is very clean and just crushes the crowd. She is a great comedian. It just seems to me a clean joke is more of a challenge. It just has to be well-crafted and well-portrayed.