Stand-up comedian Kevin Bozeman estimates he spends 200 to 250 days each year on the road, performing all over the U.S. and parts of Canada.
The Downers Grove resident’s favorite gig is the one he does every year in his hometown.
Bozeman will host “Kickin’ Up Some Laughs” at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 24 at the Tivoli Theatre. The event will be a fundraiser for the Downers Grove Roadrunners soccer club.
“It’s the highlight of my year,” Bozeman said. “No matter how busy I am, I can’t wait for the Roadrunners show.
“That’s what is great about doing the show here. I do the show with my friends and then I get to sleep in my own bed and see the kids.”
Bozeman, who has lived in Downers Grove with his three children for the past eight years, grew up on the southeast side of Chicago and played basketball at Wisconsin-Whitewater in the early 1990s.
While in Wisconsin, Bozeman started doing stand-up and enjoyed it so much he decided to make it his career.
“I just always had a knack for it,” Bozeman said. “It’s not like I lost my job as an accountant and went on Craigslist and let’s see if comedy is hiring.
“It’s just one of those things that’s really inside of you. You gotta love doing it.”
Bozeman clearly does and he’s good at it. He has performed regularly at area clubs such as the Comedy Bar, Improv, Zanies and Laugh Factory and has appeared on TV shows such as “Laffs” on Fox and on Comedy Central.
In 2015, Bozeman was a semifinalist on the last season of “Last Comic Standing.” Several of his YouTube videos have gone viral, with one approaching 30 million views.
In that respect, Bozeman stands out in the world of stand-up, where funny people are a dime a dozen, but those who earn a living at it long term are rarer than a gold doubloon. Such a career is not easy.
“I tell people all the time being your own boss or your own business is one giant hustle,” Bozeman said. “I don’t have a 401K. I don’t have vacation time.
“If I get sick, I have to cancel a show. There’s no comedy club that’s going to be like, ‘Oh, we’ll just pay you anyway, take this week off.’”
That’s one reason why Bozeman started “Kickin’ Up Some Laughs” three years ago. His eighth-grade son, Jacob, has played for the Roadrunners for five years and the Bozemans have taken an active role in the organization.
“We’ve been doing this fundraiser to help with scholarships and little things that are needed to run a soccer club that people take for granted,” Bozeman said. “Playing for the Roadrunners is not cheap.
“We have full-time professional coaches and somebody has to pay for that. The city is not going to pay for that.”
While Downers Grove is an affluent community, not every family can afford the cost of club soccer, which is why the Roadrunners offer scholarships to needy kids.
“People think that in Downers Grove everybody has money,” said Bozeman, who has another son, Kevin, who plays on the sophomore basketball team at Downers Grove North. “Not everybody.
“There are kids who are more advanced than park district, but they don’t have the money to pay for it, so this helps with the scholarships.
“So it’s for a good cause, but even if you don’t [care] about that, it’s still a good comedy show. I don’t put scrubs in. I book my friends, but I book my funny friends.”
In addition to Bozeman, the about 90-minute show will include Dave Helem and Russ Williamson. Helem is a staff writer for the Fox show “REL,” while Williamson is a regular on “Windy City Live.”
Bozeman describes his comedy as socially driven.
“It’s driven from how I grew up in this society,” Bozeman said. “I talk about family, but I might not be talking about your family because you might not have grown up that way.
“Maybe I’ll talk about stuff you can relate to and then I talk about my view on politics, which may not be your view on politics. I try to skewer both sides because that’s the way to do it.”
Politics, of course, is fertile ground for comedians, but in such divisive times Bozeman’s willingness to critique all parties has allowed him to connect with audiences.
“The problem with politics right now is no one holds their own political beliefs accountable,” Bozeman said. “It’s always, ‘Look what you did,’ but why aren’t you calling out bad behavior in your group? It makes it more palatable for people.”
“Kickin’ Up Some Laughs” has drawn an average of 500 people in its first three years of existence and raised about $5,000 per year. Bozeman hopes to double that if this year’s event is a sellout.
Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at the Tivoli box office or through kevinbozeman.com/tour-schedule.