Brian Lee transitioned from a fighting man to a funny man.
“I entered the Army four days before the first Gulf War,” he said. “It ended 100 hours later. I don’t think it was a coincidence.”
After 24 years with both the Army and Navy, Lee now is an 18-year comedy veteran. His four-comic troupe is called Core 4 Comedy and it kicks off the Veterans Day weekend with an appearance on Saturday, Nov. 10, in the Carson Valley Inn’s Valley Ballroom.
Lee said stand-up can be scarier than combat “because you can see their faces.”
The comic’s fear hardly subsided when he visited the venue a month before the show. The Valley Ballroom was being transformed for an event with a Western theme. Ropes adorned the dining tables. CVI’s entertainment director Bill Henderson picked up one of the ropes, formed a noose and issued a deadpan warning: “We don’t use hooks for our comedians.”
While offstage humor is easy for some, doing it onstage is far different.
“I was always a good joke teller and could write a good joke but never considered going into comedy,” he said. But after some “cajoling” from a friend, Lee stood up and delivered.
“I looked like Elvis,” he said. “My body was perfectly still but my leg was shaking uncontrollably.”
But he enjoyed the experience. And worked to refine his timing, delivery and stage presence.
In 2001, Lee performed at a monthly open-mic show in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that featured comedians from New York, including headliner Johnny Rizzo, who also provided tutelage.
“Johnny said to talk about what you know,” he said. “I know about crappy jobs and bad relationships.”
Lee also has been on the small screen. He played himself in a short-lived role on late-night horror program for a public-access station. He left the show after an incident with a fire-breathing dragon.
The host of Core 4 Comedy is Jeff Anderson, who specializes in celebrity impersonations. There’s also Andy Picarro, who does pop culture. “Of the four of us, he’s the observation comic. And then there’s a flyweight who swings punchlines, Luke Westberg, a 108-pounder out of the Biggest Little City, Reno. “He’s our millennial. He’s in his 30s but he looks like he’s 17.
In his performance, headliner Lee likely will make fun of Californians and get the audience to participate in a game of “Cerebral Punishment.”
The show is for patrons 21 and older but the humor isn’t raunchy.
“My parents could come to my show,” Lee said, “but they also have my sense of humor.”
Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online at www.carsonvalleyinn.com or at the Carson Valley Inn hotel desk. The performance starts at 7:30 p.m.
— Tim Parsons