Comedian Don Barnhart Jr. cut his teeth in comedy growing up in Eastern Washington.
"I can't tell you how much trouble I got into in school, including getting tossed out, for being a smart mouth," Barnhart said in a recent interview with the Herald. "There's an irony in that, don't you think?"
Barnhart, who usually books acts for Jack Didley's Comedy Club in Kennewick, will take the stage Aug. 19-21.
Barnhart spent time growing up in Yakima and then Spokane before his dad, Don Barnhart Sr., moved the family to California to work in the TV industry, including directing the show Mork and Mindy.
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Watching Robin Williams and Jonathan Winters do their comedy sketches inspired Barnhart to try comedy as a career.
"I spent most of my teen years watching Mork and Mindy from behind the cameras," Barnhart said. "It was unbelievable to watch them. Robin was nonstop and Jonathan was crazy hilarious. Just watching the two of them stole my heart, and I knew I wanted to be in this business."
When Barnhart is not on the national comedy circuit or performing on cruise ships, he lives in Las Vegas.
He's also the creator of the new syndicated TV series, Freedom of Speech, which features up-and-coming comedians testing their uncensored routines on cable television.
Barnhart won the 2007 American Idol Comedy Contest, is the writer/director/actor of the indie film China Dolls, graduated from the Second City Conservatory and is a contributing author of the book, I Killed: True Stories of The Road by America's Top Comedians.
Barnhart also performs whenever he can for U.S. troops stationed from Japan and Bosnia to Egypt and Afghanistan.
He's a certified hypnotherapist too.
"I do my own comedy routine first, then I invite the audience to come up on stage for a little hypnosis fun. But I never make people do things that will embarrass them later. It's just a lot of silly fun," he said.
His humor touches on his life experiences. "You know the stuff. Ex-wives, a little politics and religion are fun to talk about but, I don't dwell on them."
He tours about 250 days a year, he said, and since his wife, Linda Vu, is his manager, the hectic pace doesn't take a toll on his marriage.
"And I don't have kids, either, so that makes it easier with so much traveling," he said. Though he does wonder if having kids would have added more to his rotuine.
Showtime is 8:30 p.m. Cover is $5 at the door.
*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org