Comedy Preview: Kountry Wayne
The social media star-turned-stand-up makes his way to the Columbus Funny Bone this weekend with his "Gift of Gab Tour"
Born and raised in the small town of Millen, Georgia, “Kountry” Wayne Colley began his professional career managing a nightclub with aspirations of making it big in the music industry. But life for the father of seven took an unexpected turn four years ago when a self-made comedy sketch video he posted unassumingly on Facebook went viral. Since his meteoric rise, Colley has amassed an impressive portfolio of more than 2,500 videos tracked by over 4 million followers.
But Kountry Wayne’s obvious natural comedic abilities didn’t immediately evolve into stand-up. When he did choose to make the transition from portable screen to stage (he embarked on his first major tour in 2017), the improvisational instincts and work ethic that built his reputation on social media also gave him the needed gumption to engage a live audience.
“It was a different experience,” he explains during a recent phone interview. “I had to really…I really didn’t have any material, so it was like riding on a rollercoaster. I’m a really competitive person, so I used that part of me and made it work. I just freestyled and said quick little stuff to get their attention and I kept it rolling.”
Along with his recently-released debut comedy album, Help In On The Way, Kountry Wayne is back on the road this summer touring comedy clubs across the U.S. He’ll be in Columbus starting Friday night for a five-show engagement at the Funny Bone at Easton Town Center.
If you’re in the audience one (or more) of those nights, expect the headliner to engage with you.
“I feel like [the room] want
to be a part of the show, and when you involve the audience in your material, it’s a moment versus what everybody else is getting in every other show. It’s, like, ‘Okay, we were there for that moment. Remember when you grabbed that girl and brought her up on stage?’ or, ‘Remember when you got that guy and made him dance?’ Getting them involved is just such a good time versus just a traditional comedy show.”
Kountry Wayne cites late comedy legends Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx as two of his greatest models primarily because of their physical brilliance – a hallmark he believes makes his show not just a comedy act, but a well-rounded performance.
“Well, first of all, they’re Sagittarius, and Redd Foxx and I have the same birthday. [laughs] But other than that, I like the way Richard Pryor used his body and his eyes, and Redd Foxx was able to not just use his words, but his body also. Red would lean back and go [mimicking], ‘Aahhh! I got a heart attack!’ It was the way Richard Pryor got to become an item on stage, like when he was pumping tires…psssh!…he’d become a tire. It was amazing to me.
That’s my comedy, so I just related to them. And it wasn’t just like going up to a microphone and telling a joke and waiting for the punchline. It kind of gave you the movement with it. And I believe in the show, man. I’m inspired by Michael Jackson and…I don’t look it as just comedy. I look at it as a total show.”
Unlike many of his heroes, Kountry Wayne avoids the use of profanity in his show – a choice that reflects his values, but also serves as a response to the chiding of some of his early naysayers.
“I like to do things different. So when people were telling me…I remember the guys I got bank loans from when I was doing my club business told me, ‘You know, you’re gonna have to cuss when you start.’ And I said, ‘No, I’m not.’ So, I just held onto things like that, you know? They said it couldn’t be done. And I was, like, ‘Okay, I’m gonna show you. I’m gonna do clean comedy without saying the ‘P’ word like everyone else does. The only two [curse] words I say are ‘hell’ and ‘damn.’ That’s it. And, hey man, I’m still gonna make your stomach curl up from making you laugh too hard.”
While his comedy is a tremendous source of joy, keeping up with his audience’s desire for new material is sometimes challenging – a problem he seems to take in stride.
“When people see you again, they want a whole different show. But they don’t understand that comedy don’t quite work like that. When I go back to a city a year later, I promise to at least give them 20 or 30 minutes of new material because people come back along with those who haven’t seen it. And you kind of have to blend it because they want a whole different show. Sometimes they’ll come on a Thursday night and then come back on Friday and say, ‘You said the same stuff as last night!’ [laughs]
Kountry Wayne hopes his burgeoning presence in the industry will lead to more opportunities to expand his craft, especially in films.
“Oh, yeah, man. That’s really what I’m pushing toward now is the movies. The movies and getting into acting is this other side of me. The show is the first side of me, but people don’t really know who I am. I just picked up this unique group so fast, but I still haven’t really popped. For real. I haven’t been on TV or anything. I just straight came off the internet and picked up a large fan base. I still haven’t had my breakout. [laughs] But I’m just so strong before the breakout, that when I do I’m gonna be amazing!’
Kountry Wayne will perform this weekend at the Columbus Funny Bone, 145 Easton Town Center, beginning with a 7:45 p.m. show on Friday, August 31. Tickets are $30 ($50 for a VIP experience) plus taxes and applicable fees, and are available here. His debut comedy album ‘Help Is On The Way’ is available for purchase through iTunes. Follow Kountry Wayne on Facebook and Instagram, and subscribe to his YouTube channel.