Weather Updates

Gary Owen one very funny, busy guy

Gary Owen is among lineup for “Shaq’s All-Star Comedy Jam” Auditorium Theatre June 15.

Gary Owen is among the lineup for “Shaq’s All-Star Comedy Jam” at the Auditorium Theatre on June 15.

storyidforme: 32008085
tmspicid: 11571016
fileheaderid: 5279560

Comedy Jam

♦ 8 p.m. June 15
♦ Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress

♦ Tickets, $42.50-$53

♦ (800) 745-3000;

Updated: July 16, 2012 6:14AM

Growing up in a trailer park outside of Oxford, Ohio, Gary Owen didn’t just dream about becoming a stand-up comic some day.

“I always expected it. I always knew I wanted to be a comedian,” said Owen. “I didn’t know how to do it. But I always thought: ‘Somehow I’ll make it.’”

After 15 years of stand-up, and acting in Tyler Perry’s “House of Payne,” “Daddy Day Care” and “Little Man,” he’s making it bigger than ever:

† In the recent big-screen hit “Think Like A Man,” Owen played Bennett, married to an African-American woman, mirroring his real life marriage to Kenya Duke Owen.

† His first Showtime concert, “True Story,” debuted in May.

† Later this year, he’ll host Shaquille O’Neal’s annual “Shaq’s All-Star Comedy Jam” on Showtime, and he’s touring with the comics.

“This year, things are coming together more than ever before,” said Owen. He was a natural for “Think Like A Man” (inspired by Steve Harvey’s book, “Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man”) because of his appeal to African Americans. Ebony magazine recently named him “Black America’s Favorite White Comedian.”

“My first big break was on BET in 1998 or ’99. A white guy gets on BET, he’s gonna stick out,” Owen said.

His stand-up act since marrying Kenya includes many observations about “our differences. But I don’t pander to the black audience,” he said. “Blacks tell me after the show: You know us better than we do!”

He hastened to note he’s not totally like Bennett, his movie character constantly picked on by his pals played by Michael Ealy (“Takers”); Jerry Ferrara (“Entourage”); Kevin Hart (“Death at a Funeral”); Terrence Jenkins (“106th &Park”), and Romany Malco (“The 40-Year-Old Virgin”).

“I’m not that goofy. I wouldn’t take the verbal abuse that he does,” he said. “As a married guy, I don’t know if I’d hang with so many single guys.”

When not on the road, Owen usually can be found at home. His mostly weekend work schedule allows him to hang with his kids when they get home from school.

Owen also reveals that his family hasn’t always been a laughing matter. In 2006, he turned down a Fox sitcom based on his mixed marriage.

“Everything was racial in the pilot. The writer didn’t get it, so I walked away from it,” he said. “You’d be amazed what saying no will get you. A year later I was on ‘House of Payne.’”

Gannett News Service

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.