Jeff Allen brings his clean comedy to Schaumburg, at the not-so-late hour of 3 p.m.
Skipping the foul language and edgy subjects, the comic focuses his humor on the relatable topics of marriage and family.
Most comedians perform late-night sets inside darkened clubs and fire away routines filled with R-rated language and topics. But Jeff Allen enjoys performing at early hours in order to draw parents and older audiences to his shows focusing on relatable topics of marriage and family.
“I’ll get parents home before their babysitter has time to raid the liquor cabinet or get caught in an embarrassing situation with their boyfriends,” he jokes. “Really, it’s that my audience doesn’t go out much after 8, so we started asking clubs to let me do 5 or 5:30 on Saturdays and they quickly sold out. So I’ve been doing those early shows and regular club times 50/50 ever since.”
While he often performs shows at 5 or 7 p.m., Allen will be attempting his earliest show ever on Saturday, when he takes the stage at the Chicago Improv in Schaumburg at 3 p.m. It’s a time experiment even he is curious to see play out.
When: 3 p.m. Saturday
Where: Chicago Improv, 5 Woodfield Mall, Schaumburg
Tickets: $38 to $49 (ages 14 and up)
But the Nashville-based comedian has learned to smoothly handle any situation in a 30-year career that has taken him to Dry Bar Comedy, Netflix, Amazon, Showtime, Comedy Central and more. He specializes in clean comedy and was a key performer in the popular Christian-comedy special “Thou Shalt Laugh.”
He also overcame a serious alcohol and cocaine addiction that nearly cost him his marriage, thanks to embracing Christianity in his early 30s. Allen notes that his conversion changed his life both onstage and off.
“I had the addictions until I was 34, and I never related to organized religion,” recalls Allen. “I started a journey for about seven or eight years where I explored all kinds of philosophies but came to believe there is no God. That made me an angry, bitter cynic.
“Then one day I opened a Bible and found the book of Ecclesiastes, which opens with the phrase ‘Meaningless, meaningless, all of life is meaningless,’ and that’s how I felt and read more, “ he adds. “I started listening to like 34 sermons a day about all aspects of the Bible and Jesus, and eventually I got on my knees one day and said ‘I’m yours, God.’ ”
Allen drastically reworked what had been an angry act filled with foul language and reinvented himself as a smiling, happy comic who worked clean. He admits that non-clean material still pops into his head all the time, but he works it into family-friendly shape or passes the jokes he simply cannot do to his other comic friends.
His current tour is named “2.0,” a reference not to a reboot of his career, but to his 2.0 grade point average. In it, he riffs on how the people society holds up at experts rarely have the real answers to life, but that C-student regular Joes know how to handle anything.
“I asked my wife why we’re spending 80 bucks a month on dog food, when all my dog eats is the cat litter that’s cheaper,” he jokes. “I said, ‘Can’t we feed the cat really well and then have it feed the dog?’ I thought of that, and I’m just a 2.0.”
Allen is also dipping his toe into some topical humor on his current tour, though he has avoided it in the past because of the constant reading required to find topics and the material’s short life span.
“I like to say I’m like Dove soap, where I’m 99.8 percent pure and free of social commentary,” says Allen. “But some things are too absurd to pass up, like the fact that toilet paper ran out at the start of the Covid pandemic.
“We’re being told it’s a respiratory illness, but people are running out and buying all the toilet paper. They’re wiping the wrong end.”