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Meet Alonzo Bodden of Just A Friend in Woodland Hills

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alonzo Bodden.

Alonzo, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
The first 10 years of my working life was as an aircraft mechanic. My first job was on the then top secret Stealth Fighter at Lockheed. I did modifications on DC 10’s for airlines and worked on major rebuilds of some damaged aircraft all over the country. After 10 years as a mechanic, I started training new mechanics. I did that for three years. I was working as an instructor at McDonnell Douglas aircraft company and had more fun making my students laugh than teaching them how to pick fasteners from a blueprint.

I started doing stand-up in January 1993. I was always funny. I could always make people laugh but never thought of doing it for a living. There were two things that helped me enter the world of stand-up. One, as an instructor, I was in front of people for the first time and I wasn’t the least bit nervous. Most people are scared of public speaking. For me, it was the most natural thing in the world. The other motivator was rehab. I got into cocaine in the early 80’s; you know back when it wasn’t addicting. My coke use devolved into crack smoking, which led to a bottom.

I got arrested and although one night in jail doesn’t make me a tough guy, I knew I had enough and never wanted to feel the way I felt that night in that cell. I went to outpatient rehab and was introduced to meetings at a place called Studio 12. The stars went to Betty Ford, the crew went to Studio 12. I met people who worked in the entertainment industry and they introduced me to the fact that the entertainment industry was real. That sparked the thought I could do it. These were the people supporting me my first time onstage. They told me I could do stand-up if it was my dream. I asked how. They said they had no idea, so I took a comedy writing class and came up with my first six minutes and have never looked back. I’ve also been sober 31 years, so that worked out well.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I can only say it’s been a smooth road because I’ve always enjoyed doing stand-up. More than enjoyed, I love it. I started out getting onstage anywhere I could from the back of bookstores to bowling alleys. It’s always tough to find stage time and for the first few years, any time at an actual comedy club, was a gift. The tougher part was the day jobs I did to pay the bills. I had decided I wasn’t going to work on aircraft anymore. It would have been too comfortable to make money fixing planes and I might not have hustled my comedy as hard. I did everything from painting addresses on curbs, to mounting TV monitors in 7-11’s.

The main job I had was as a truck driver for the kids show Power Rangers. That’s right, I worked on the original Power Rangers show. I knew all the original rangers. That job was great because as part of the crew, I learned every job in production. It’s when I learned what all those credits were that roll at the end of a show. Turns out “best boy” is a real thing. I also got a job doing voice-overs for the show. I was getting a snack and the sound guy heard my voice. Next thing I know I was the voice of the monster Thunderon. That’s a funny thing about this biz. You never know what might lead to what. My real break came when I did “New Faces of Comedy” at the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal. I killed! I got a development deal and some money started coming in from the real club bookings. That’s when I gave up my day job.

Alonzo – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the others?
I’m probably most known for, and my biggest moment,  winning season three of Last Comic Standing. Well, I say most known but many don’t know because the show was canceled at the final episode. That’s right. I’m also known as the only reality show winner the network didn’t show.

My comedy is about simply telling the truth. That’s what I’m known for whether it be social issues, politics or society stupidity. I love to analyze it. I’m also known for being a panelist on NPR’s show “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” It’s a very popular news quiz show. I’ve done two comedy specials for Showtime and have one coming out in August on Amazon Prime called “Heavy Lightweight”

Any shout outs? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Well, the first person I have to credit is my mom. She was probably the funniest person I knew and my sense of humor came from her. She and I could laugh at anything. Tommy Davidson took me on the road early in my career and I learned a ton from him about what to do and what not to do. George Wallace taught me to keep writing. He never said it directly. I just learned because I always saw him with a pad and pen in hand. Danny Mora ran a comedy workshop that I attended early in my career. I’d never have become the comic I am without him. I also appreciate Jamie Masada, the Laugh Factory owner, who gave me my first job as a doorman. He’d put me onstage when other comics didn’t show up. That’s still my home club. Rick Rogers was my first manager and he helped me get into Just for Laughs in Montreal. I’ll never forget that week. Hell, that night at New Faces in Montreal, is when I went pro. There have been numerous people inn recovery that have helped me stay sober and grow as a person Thats always helped my comedy. Oh and the crowds  I gotta love the crowds because without them I’m just a funny guy laughing in the mirror.

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Image Credit:
Dan Dion Photos by Lorenzo

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