Denver comedian Sam Adams walked into Bill Cosby’s dressing room. Cosby was lying on the couch watching the Denver Broncos/San Diego Chargers game. During an interview with Cosby earlier in the day, he revealed that he does stand up too. After which Cosby tells Adams to come and see him with pen and pad and he would give him a free lesson.
Then he said, “If I were you, I wouldn’t look at the screen.” Adams says he couldn’t help himself. “When someone tells you not to do something, what do you do? I looked. And this running back from the Chargers was running up the sideline.”
“See I can tell already that you don’t pay attention,” Cosby says. “I told you not to look!”
Adams says, “At that point, I thought, ‘Oh shoot. I have messed it up.’ For about five minutes I felt like a 2 year-old in a high chair with dangling feet that couldn’t touch the ground. I finally relaxed.”
That was 2007.
Adams says he remembers one piece of advice from the now embattled Cosby, and that is it doesn’t matter the size of your audience; whether it’s three, 30 or 3,000 people – your job is to make the audience laugh.
“You don’t make them laugh,” as Cosby leaned over pointing an accusing finger, and said, ‘F’ (meaning Failure)!”
Denver sports fans might remember Adams who was born and raised in Cleveland as a columnist for the late great Rocky Mountain News. His sports career begin in the 1980s as a stringer covering high school sports for the Denver Post – a gig that tuned into a full-time job. He left Denver for a year and returned landing a job at the Rocky where in stayed until the paper folded in 2009.
But Adams’ heart was stand-up comedy. After the Rocky closed its doors, Adams took a leap of faith to pursued comedy full-time performing for two-minute open mic nights at places such as The Comedy Works in Lo Do, to landing corporate gigs – where he’s found his niche of working clean.
Adams says friend and fellow comedian Darrell Collier told him, “I’m not going to tell you how to do your comedy, but if you keep it clean, you’ll get more corporate gigs. If you stick around long enough, you’ll see what I mean.”
Adams has been able to work as a full-time comedian because, “I do a lot of corporate and not a lot of clubs,” he says where he started off trying to get work.
“But corporates pay better and their audience is set for you. It’s usually a company that is having an event or something. They don’t want you offending their workers, clients or whatever with foul language,” he says.
Adams underlines the point that he made up his mind on how to perform as though his mother was sitting up front and proudly says he rarely bombs, because he prepares. He says the temptation is to do something different every time you go out. But every audience is different.
“If you got a joke and you get a lot of laughs,” he says, “keep working on that joke. Make it better. Keep working on it and find another one. That just comes with time.”
But, there was one time, however, when Adams didn’t prepare, and he really bombed. He says while exiting the stage, he didn’t even get a sympathy clap. He made up his mind then no matter the size of the venue, or audience, he was going to be prepared.
“I wasn’t ready that night and I got what I deserved,” he says. “I have many mini-note pads. When I’m driving, I write things down. When people see it, they say, ‘Oh you write short hand.’ I say, ‘No that’s drive hand. I’m keeping my eyes on the road.’”
Recently celebrating his 15 year anniversary and performing at Comedy Works on May 15, Adams says he sometimes uses a recorder to record what he’s thinking, “Because you never know when a thought is going to come up.” He adds that he’ll think of something and say, ‘Can I make myself laugh?” Then he feels the audience will probably laugh at it too.
“I’m focused on where I’m at in life.” Adams explains, “I’m 56 and I see all these young kids and they got all these things they know about – that I still don’t know about. I take my age and relate it to what used to be. How it used to be.”
Those familiar with Adams shows remember his introduction about his name being Sam Adams like the beer. “But I am Sam Adams Dark,” he says. Or the familiar joke about fans saying, “I read your sports column all the time, followed with, “I didn’t know you were Black” – even though his picture was included in each column.
One of Adams current shtick is the barrage of pill commercials. He says the commercials are not talking to the kids, they are talking to him. They say he needs a pill for everything.
“I make fun of the pills names,” he says. “They sound like names of girls I dated back in high school.”
Adams says he likes to make fun of the pill names we hear on a day-to-day basis. But one thing stays constant.
“Every show I see Cosby’s finger pointing in my face,” saying ‘F,’ and, that reminds me that my job is to make them laugh.”
Editor’s note: For more information on Sam Adams and upcoming performances, visit www.samadamscomedy.com.