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A Comic’s Rebirth

Chris Flanagan is flying by the seat of his pants, enjoying sets fueled by the experiences and observations that accompany becoming a father..

by Chuck king
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DELRAY BEACH – New father Chris Flanagan isn’t at all frustrated with his current situation – though the comic side of him could be.

The events leading up to the birth of his first child – and the nearly five months since that birth – provided enough new material to fill several sets. Yet, those circumstances prompted Flanagan to take time away from the stage.

He has all kinds of new material, but precious little time to refine and share it.

“It never crossed my mind that I’m going to get new material out of here until, even before you have the baby, just protocols and rules and preparing – you have to have a baby shower, all that kind of stuff,” Flanagan said.

Flanagan is embracing the challenge, and when he does take stage he’s finding an unexpected source of pleasure. He’s reveling in the chaos.

“When you’re going by the seat of your pants in real life, it shows up on stage in a more honest moment,” Flanagan said following Wednesday night’s headlining set at the Turtle Tavern. “I’m enjoying talking and not always knowing the thing that’s going to come out of my mouth because I’m speaking from the heart, with emotion. It’s not all polished. It’s fun right now.”

A rising South Florida comic who was starting to get noticed nationally, Flanagan scaled back his performance schedule dramatically when wife Randi became pregnant about a year-and-a-half ago.

With the COVID pandemic sweeping the nation, Flanagan didn’t want to risk bringing the virus into his home. He selectively chose his gigs, opting to perform about once per month.

“I knew I had to keep the rust off or it would spell trouble for my comedy career,” Flanagan said. “I went out of my way to find gigs with big open spaces.”

The birth of his son didn’t prompt Flanagan to rush back to the stage. He’s only performed a handful of times over the past five months, but he’s beginning to book more frequently.

He remains as wary as ever about the potential to bring COVID home to his wife and newborn. On Wednesday Flanagan took the precaution of wearing a mask everywhere but on stage. Once on stage a southern drawl and easy smile still punctuated jokes that flowed freely.

“It’s been strategic,” Flanagan said. “If I reach out to people, I’m reaching out saying, ‘Listen, do you have a spot and can we plan for it?’ It’s not that I need permission. I need to give my wife notice because it’s a lot by herself to handle the baby.”

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Fortunately for Flanagan, when he does book a room, the past year-and-a-half provided plenty of material.

Be it trying to navigate a pregnancy and birth during pandemic restrictions – “There was a chance I wasn’t even going to be allowed in the delivery room.” – or simply living through the general experiences that accompany becoming a first-time parent,” Flanagan is flush with jokes and odd stories.

“Right off the bat, even before the baby’s born, you’re in hospital experiences and you’re noticing things that are crazy – and obviously different than maybe what people did two years ago in the hospital,” Flanagan said.

Several of those experiences found their way into Flanagan’s Turtle Tavern set. Almost certainly, there’s more to come.

“I haven’t gotten a lot of advice,” Flanagan said. “I do have lots of friends with kids. Most of them just say, ‘You’ll figure it out.’ That’s what were doing.”

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