One wouldn't think that mentioning the anatomy of an extinct animal could offend anyone, but comedian Cash Levy learned otherwise when he told a joke in one of his shows that included the phrase "pterodactyl scrotum." A couple just couldn't handle the fact that he'd made such a comment and voiced their concern. Perhaps they were offended by the mere size of prehistoric junk, or maybe it's still too soon to poke fun at dinosaurs because, well, they've had a rough go over the past couple hundred million years.
Levy doesn't try to offend anyone (although he once pissed off a gang member) and while he's not squeaky clean by any means, he's been steering away from jokes about, you know, wieners and turds and other bodily fluids since his first paid show in 1995, which just so happened to take place here in Bend. Now, 15 years later, Levy is returning to town for what is probably the biggest weekend of his career - a two-night engagement at the Tower Theatre during which he'll be filming his first full-length cable special.
"I definitely have some jokes that are darker and aren't totally clean. But working dirty is really sort of easy. You can always get a laugh on a fart joke or something foul, but coming up with original stuff is much more difficult," says Levy, calling in from Chicago last week where he was playing a run of shows and putting the finishing touches on the preparations for his Bend gig.
Cash Levy's career as taken him through the club circuit for more than a decade and also earned him appearances on The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Comedy Central, Fox Sports and other outlets. He's dove into the corporate world, playing sets for suits at conventions that might not see another comedy show all year. He's hit up more than 50 countries around the world, recently making a trip to perform for troops in Afghanistan. So this LA-based comic has been everywhere, yet he's coming to Bend, Oregon to tape his special.
"I've kind of had a special place in my heart for Bend because your first paying gig is something to remember. I played golf the day after that show and I have the golf ball that's a memento from that trip," says Levy, although he can't remember the name of the joint he played, but does know it no longer exists.
After that 1995 gig, Levy didn't return to Bend until this past November when he headlined a benefit at the Tower for Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Central Oregon. After that show, he felt like the Tower was the place where he wanted to tape his special - which he sees as the culmination of those 15 years on the road. There are currently shows slated for Friday and Saturday nights, with the possibility of a third show later on Saturday night, all of which will be taped for the special in the hope of capturing the key to Levy's performances: his improvisational zest.
Levy's jokes run the gamut, keying on some standard comic talking points like relationships and technology, but he's the most hilarious when he can engages the crowd. He's not picking on anybody, per say, but if you're at the special, and you're lucky, you might end up as part of Levy's material.
"There's so many situations where you have to think on your feet. You end up in these gigs in different places and you have to adjust. I really wanted to be one of those comics that can travel around the world and still have it work," says Levy. "That wouldn't have happened if I was just doing connect-the-dots shows."
Another added bonus to this show (in addition to the $10 ticket price): if you're there, you just might end up on television. So wear something nice and be prepared for a prehistoric scrotum or two, just in case.
Cash Levy (Opening set by Steve Mazan)
8pm Friday, March 26. 7pm Saturday, March 27. $10. Tickets at 317-0700, towertheatre.org.