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Hahn-est to Goodness Craziness

Energetic, entertaining and, yes, even goofy, South Florida's Greg Hahn became a nationally renowned performer because of his uniquely unserious style.

by Chuck king

LAKE PARK – Try not to spend too much time attempting to distinguish whether the thoughts escaping through Greg Hahn’s lips are sincere or jokes.

Doing so only slows the listener.

Thinking too much about the last sentence only causes confusion about the next one. Just accept that whatever is said will be wacky and revel in it, because Hahn isn’t about to slow down.

“Greg is a sort of goofy happiness machine,” said Tom Griswold, the “Tom” in the Bob and Tom Radio Show on which Hahn is a frequent guest. “In some ways he’s almost a parody of a comedian. He sort of has his own thing. He’s sort of beyond the confident idiot. Without overtly being a character, he is obviously a character on stage.”

Off stage, too.

Case in point: Hahn’s response to a question about what kind of projects he’s been working on begins with a plausible statement.

“There are some great joke writers out their,” Hahn begins. “So I’m working harder at writing. I think I can pull this off in the fourth quarter.”

Then Hahn quickly segues – without an obvious transition – into his bathing habits and a newfound affinity for Old Spice.

“I love taking showers and using Old Spice body wash,” he says, causing the listener to pause to process the statement.

Hahn ignores the stop sticks he just tossed in the road.

“Six bucks, you get a big red bottle of Old Spice Night Panther,” Hahn continues. “It suds right up. You’re like a human car wash in your shower. Sometimes I get [Old Spice] Captain – it’s a different type of smell. They’ve got a million flavors. Sometimes I mix them myself, get Captain and Night Panther and come out as Captain Night Panther.”

Throughout the answer Hahn’s expression doesn’t indicate a transition from honesty to hyperbole. The sentences fly out of his mouth like a machine gun he could have used during his stint as a Marine.

Questions abound. Does he really mix Old Spices? Is he talking himself into trying this? Is this why he smells so agreeable?

The final question – Is this Hahn’s pitch for an endorsement deal? – actually gets asked out loud.

“I wouldn’t mind doing that,” Hahn answers. “Depending on how I feel, I’ll throw the soap on that I feel like smelling like.”

Hahn delivers those comments shortly before taking the stage for one of three South Florida performances over Memorial Day weekend.

He has all the energy of a comic already on stage.

“When I started comedy I always wanted to not be boring,” Hahn said. “You picture people watching you, what are they seeing? I want to not be boring. So I guess the high energy stuff helps me to be less boring.”

But Hahn quickly rebuffs the idea that he’s solely an “energy” performer.

“There’s people with energy that aren’t funny,” Hahn said. “Energy doesn’t equate to funny. I’ve got to say something funny.”

He does. All the time. On stage or off.

“I don’t think it’s difficult when you’re really like that,” fellow comic Bret Ernst said. “Greg’s just a high-energy guy. He’s one of my favorites. There’s some comics that you will see on stage and off stage it’s just not the same person. It’s always cool when you watch somebody on stage that you think is hilarious and then you’re off-stage with them and it’s even more fun.”

With the pre-show energy continuing to build, Hahn insists he’s not always like this.

“I get quiet,” Hahn said. “Like, during the day I’m totally quiet, alone in the hotel with the AC on frostbite. I hold perfectly still. I don’t want to bring a date with me because she’ll want to go to a water park or something. I’ll be like, I am the water park. I go on at 8.”

When 8 p.m. rolls around, all the hydro-electric energy bursts through the dam.

Hahn gained national prominence on the Bob and Tom radio show and subsequent tours, has numerous television credits on his resume, and is a veteran of comedy festivals. On Thursday he’ll be back on Bob and Tom, joining the duo at 7 a.m. EDT and likely remaining on the show intermittently for a couple of hours.

“As he spews this idiotic nonsense there’s kind of a hopeful guy in there,” Griswold said. “To me he’s one of those guys who’s just joyful in an odd way. I can’t really pin it down. When he starts doing whatever it is he does, it’s just funny.”

At a time when many national comics are discovering the South Florida comedy scene, Hahn knows the locale well. A high-schooler in South Florida, Hahn often returns to the area to visit his mother.

A couple of weeks ago he slipped into the Sadman Speakeasy show at Arturo’s Ristorante in Boca Raton to see some of his Los Angeles friends – Dean Napolitano, Flip Schultz and Avi Liberman – perform.

On Friday, the night before he took the stage in his former hometown of Boca Raton, he performed at a poorly promoted show in front of a handful of people about 30 minutes north. On a night when many comics would have mechanically performed their routine and collected a paycheck, Hahn – loaded with zeal – left the microphone in its stand and, to the delight of the few in attendance, performed without amplification. Rapid fire. Joke after goofy joke. The crowd couldn’t have been happier.

“When you have almost no crowd like tonight you want to do every single joke you’ve ever thought of doing,” Hahn said. “See if I can get through it and not pass out.”

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