A native of Tremont who grew up in Bar Harbor, the man who bills himself as “Maine’s Fastest-rising Comedy Star” says it is his Mount Desert Island roots that inspire his act.
“Krazy Jake” Hodgdon has capitalized on stories of his family and life in Downeast Maine to the point that he is popular enough to keep him busy on the road for some 200 nights a year. Area residents will get a chance to see his show at The Grand Auditorium in Ellsworth on Saturday, May 17.
“My act is very blue collar with lots of crazy stories about my family and living on the island,” he said in a recent interview.
“I got my sense of humor from my grandfather,” he continued. He added that it was the way members of his family approached life, not the constant cracking of jokes, that became fertile fodder for his act.
“Ninety percent of the stories I tell are true,” he said. “The other 10 percent is thrown in for comedy.”
“My dad was a great teacher of life. One day he didn’t want to drive after having a few drinks. That’s the day he taught me to drive because he needed someone to get him home,” Hodgdon said. “I was 11 at the time.”
Driving instructions often had more than one purpose.
“He told me to stay in the middle of the road,” he recalled. “He said that way, no matter which side a deer ran out on we had a better chance of hitting one and getting free meat.”
Hodgdon’s mom, Clarice, moved the family from Tremont to Bar Harbor when he was 5. He attended Connors Emerson School and later graduated from MDI High School in 1987. At MDI, he was a busy student-athlete. His interest in performing developed after he fell into modeling and eventually landed in Los Angeles, where he found steady work as an actor on TV and in smaller films.
“Now I’m told I look like an arrogant Paul Bunyan,” he said.
In 2002, Hodgdon moved back to MDI when his father, Bob, took ill. He spent that summer and fall working along with his dad on his lobster boat, Black Pepper.
“It was kind of a funny name, actually,” Hodgdon recalled. “On the day he bought it, it was cleaned right out except for a rusty can of crushed black pepper. He decided that should be the name.”
Being back in his old stomping grounds, and meeting the woman who would become his wife, resulted in Hodgdon staying in Maine.
“I didn’t want to go back to L.A.,” he said. “I loved being back here in the summer and in the fall especially. Maine is my favorite place.”
It was Hodgdon’s friendship with the man who is considered the King of Maine comedy, Bob Marley, that convinced him that “making people laugh for a living could work.”
“He’d been bugging me for a long time to get into comedy,” Hodgdon said. “About two and a half years ago, he talked me into it.”
After the previous opening act, George Hamm, went out on his own, Hodgdon began warming up the audiences for Marley’s shows. The rest, as they say in show business, is history.
The 42-year old, who now is based in Falmouth with his wife and four children, is now headlining his own shows.
“This is 100 percent of my living now,” Hodgdon said. “I just want to entertain folks and make sure everyone is having a good time.”
Hodgdon bills his material as blue collar.
The key to keeping his material fresh is to “write, write, write,” he said. He works new material into his sets gradually to see how it sits with the audience. The risk otherwise, he explained, is that the timing of the show could fall flat and lose its comedic momentum.
Blue collar comedy also can involve language that’s a little “blue” as well.
“When Bob and I do shows together, it’s definitely PG-13,” he said. “My stuff is definitely adult material. I’m a little saltier when I’m by myself.”
He explained that for teenagers, the amount of profanity in his act is probably not any worse than what they hear among themselves on any given day.
“My act is for adults,” he said. “I’d hate to look out into the audience and see a 7-year-old there.”
Along with the stand-up comedy, Hodgdon has been involved in filming several episodes of a Maine-based reality TV series that he is not at liberty to discuss in detail.
“There’s very little stuff that’s staged,” he did offer. “It will probably air in the fall.”
He also is one of the stars in a comedy movie called “Wheel it Hard,” now shooting in Portland.
“We are having so much fun on the set,” Hodgdon said. “We laugh nonstop. It’s going to be hilarious.”
Returning triumphant to his old stomping grounds, Hodgdon is excited to be doing the show at The Grand. In the end, it’s all about entertaining folks in the Downeast Maine audience.
“I’m the guy who goes on stage and is very high energy,” Hodgdon said. “I’m that crazy Maine guy that so many people know in their own lives. I think that resonates with people. They say to themselves, ‘He’s one of us.’”
And about that claim to be “Maine’s fastest rising comedy star”?
“Bob Marley told me to use that tagline,” Hodgdon said. “He said, ‘Heck, it’s the truth. Who can argue with that?’”
If you go
May 17, 7 p.m. at the Grand Auditorium, Main Street, Ellsworth.
Visit Grandonline.org or call 667-9500