Andy Hendrickson’s standup comedy career got off to a cold start. Not in terms of response or success, just literally — it was North Dakota in January.
“It was freezing,” Hendrickson said.
That’s the coldest place his standup comedy career has taken him so far, although a trip to Alaska this weekend might break that record, if temperatures in Southcentral don’t rise above the below-zero mark they plummeted to this week. Nevertheless, he said he’s looking forward to the trip, which includes a performance Friday at the University of Alaska Anchorage, and one Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Kenai Peninsula College in Soldotna.
“I’ve been really excited to get up there, because I’ve always wanted to see Alaska,” Hendrickson said. “When I got the gig book I got real excited.”
Or he was, at least. Hendrickson said he was hoping to see the northern lights. He was also looking forward to the scenery between Anchorage and Soldotna, and had been told not to worry about the driving, unless there’s a storm. The aurora forecast is quiet this weekend, while the weather forecast is calling for snow.
“I’m not coming then,” he said.
If nothing else, the trip may provide him with new material. He said he sometimes works in observations from his location into his performance.
“Sometimes things strike me,” he said. “When I get there, if there’s something obvious, say in the airport in Anchorage or on the drive down, or if I stop on the way down, whatever things that happened to me on the way there, I’ll comment on that.”
Hendrickson is a Navy kid. We was born in California, moved to Hawaii and spent most of his time as a kid in Virginia. He graduated from Western Virginia University with a degree in advertising before moving to Atlanta.
He worked in graphics production for a while, at a sign company and for a company that made trade show exhibits. While in Atlanta he saw a news report about a guy who taught a standup comedy class and decided to give it a try.
“I kind of got the bug. Ever since then I slowly phased out my old job and became a full-time comedian,” Hendrickson said.
“It’s a fun job, obviously. It’s very rewarding getting feedback right off the bat. You say your joke, get the laughs and you know what’s working. Getting people to laugh is a good thing. It’s very addictive.”
Hendrickson said he enjoys the process of writing jokes and coming up with ways to relate something he’s noticed or that’s happened to him.
The lifestyle’s not bad, either.
“I just love the whole process,” he said. “It’s very creative and you only work an hour a night. There’s more to it than that, of course, but you get to be your own boss.”
Hendrickson has toured across the Lower 48, Hawaii and Europe in his 10.5 years doing standup, and recently returned to New York City from a stint in Canada. He performs at a lot of college campuses, and also has been part of the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colo., the Boston Comedy Festival and D.C. Comedy Fest. His TV appearances include NBC’s “Night Shift,” the WB’s “Nite Laff-off” and Media One’s “Gonzo Comedy.” On national radio he’s been heard on the Bob and Tom Morning Show, XM Satellite Radio, Sirius Satellite Radio and National Lampoon Radio.
The KPC show starts with an opening live music performance by Diggin’ Roots, with Robb Justice, Dan Spencer and Dan Pascucci. Then Hendrickson takes the stage.
“I think it’s very rewarding to get that instant feedback from the crowd,” he said. “The only thing that might be cooler is to be in a rock band.”
Hopefully, “cooler” can be a figurative term this trip.