Six comedians took the stage this past Tuesday at Aroma's Hookah Lounge in Wellington. Some were young -- one, actually, was on the stage for his time ever -- while others were 40, 50 years old like Perry Sak and Terry Wayne. South Florida comedy veterans. They were all, however, booked by one man: 22-year-old Jordan Garnett, a rising South Florida comedian who has hosted and booked Tuesday comedy nights at the hookah joint since April of this year, booking a fresh six each week.
This weekend, he's opening for the New Times approved Jen Kirkman on Friday and for Mark Viera on Saturday and Sunday at the Palm Beach Improv.
Over the last six months, Garnett, a short, spiky haired blonde with frenzied energy, has gone from an aspiring stand-up artist (he even mimicked Chris Rock's Never Scared comedy special for a 7th grade book report) to a full-time host and comedian, responsible for booking two comedy shows every week at two different clubs (Papa's Raw Bar on Monday's is all his, too) and performing stand-up most other nights, often times at places like the Funky Buddha Lounge in Boca Raton.
"I don't have a lot of bills, and my grandma still pays my cell phone bill," he says. "But I am seeing it progressing. Me two years ago? Completely different story. We wouldn't be here right now."
Garnett is now armed with a 20-year-old blonde girlfriend and swarms of older women at shows who think they know him because so much of his material is about, well, loving older women. But the ladies didn't love him always.
"I started standup to get women. I know you're here," he says, his girlfriend Danielle Couture, sitting to his right. "But growing up I was always a fat kid so I thought, like..."
He weighed nearly 200 pounds as a small 12-year-old but he liked a girl in his math class. Always a prankster like his dad Ed (who would drive the boy in his earlier years through rainstorms looking for folks to splash by driving into puddles nearby, just for fun), he decided to start playing football, "starving" himself, and being funny.
Garnett says he shed 70 pounds in six months. But he didn't the girl.
"No, of course not," he says. "Of course not."
But it did lead him to write what he calls his "BFF joke" after the hurt and disappointment of not getting his lady. It's a joke he still uses to this day, one he's opened with at the improv.
"I love women. I do. I don't get with a lot of them, but I'm friends with a lot of them. That's not cool. But it's cool for women though, right? Women love that. Women love having friends of the opposite sex, they eat it up, they adore it. Like, oh my god, Rachel, he's like my best friend, I can treat him like shit and he still listens and he cares and he's so sweet and I can treat him like shit and he still listens. You know, guys, we don't have that. We just have girls that we were trying to fuck but somewhere along the way we messed up and they ended our friends. Shit, right? But come on, dudes, we've all been there, right? We've all met that perfect, gorgeous girl that puts you in that hole: Hey, I'm really hot and you're kind of annoying but you'll buy me a lot of shit so let's be BFFs. Don't do this. Do you know what that stands for when a woman calls you her BFF? Ah, best friends forever. No. More like better forget fucking."
By the time high school rolled around -- he went to Park Vista and shared his sophomore year with Boca prankster Vitaly Zdorovetskiy who back then was a "foreign skater kid" before he blew up -- Garnett was sly and svelte enough to have a longterm girlfriend and hordes of friends who adored his YouTube prank videos.
Most are silly and ridiculous, but it was an early comedic outlet for the 22-year old. From pre-school to 8th grade, Garnett was in a Christian school, something that almost forced him down this path.
"If you even sneezed the wrong way, it was frowned upon," he says. "Everyone followed it and I was always like 'fuck that, be yourself. Be creative.' I think that's where I got my creative drive from, where I'm just like, I'm not going to be the kid who tucks in his shirt or follows the rules -- I'm going to stand out."
For a 7th grade book report, the class had to pick something on someone who "changed the world" so classmates picked people like Mother Theresa or presidents. Garnett chose Chris Rock and showed up to class mimicking his set. In March of '09, Garnett hopped on stage for the first time ever, part of him enraptured by the idea since seeing Never Scared, at an open mic night at the Palm Beach Improv and killed. Enough so that Tony Rock (Chris's younger brother), also backstage, told the kid he was crazy funny -- and crazy young.
Garnett shuffled through many odd jobs -- delivering light bulbs, working at Publix, cleaning pools -- to pay for his addiction to stand-up, but it was a losing proposition for almost six years. He was "negative $129" in the bank account and struggling to get booked enough before Rene Harte, the owner of the Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach and Tempe, Arizona improvs, pulled him aside.
"She sat me down in her office one day and was like 'I would love to start using you more -- you're funny, you're so young, you're great -- but you're so immature. I realized I was hearing that from all outlets -- immature, immature, immature -- so I stopped posting stupid shit on Facebook. I didn't delete the YouTube videos but I just stopped posting stupid stuff. I stuck to standup. And I'd just never say no to a gig."
His parents -- his mom is a beautician and his dad works for an internet advertising company -- were supportive of his dream and hopeful things would turn around, but they hit him often with "we know you love doing it, but it's not a real job."
Still, Garnett wasn't having it and, he says, he never contemplated throwing it away to appease anyone.
"Hell no," he says. "Never thought about it. I swear I've never thought about quitting. If I lost comedy, I'd have no reason to live, man. That's the only thing I think about."
Jordan Garnett opens for Jen Kirkman on Friday, August 1, at 8 and 10:30 p.m. at the Palm Beach Improv, 550 S. Rosemary Ave., Suite 250, West Palm Beach. Tickets cost $20 plus fees. Two-drink minimum. Call 561-833-1812, or visit palmbeachimprov.com. He also opens for Mark Viera at the same venue on Saturday at 7 and 9:45 p.m. and Sunday at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $17 plus fees. Two-drink minimum.
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