2013-01-17 / 52


Cop turned comedian headlines at City Theater
By Brian Keely

If you have a sense of humor, downtown Biddeford has a must-see show for you.

Nationally-known comedian Juston McKinney will kick off his 16-county Maine tour at downtown’s historic City Theater 7 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 19. McKinney is a former York County Deputy Sheriff turned comedian and whose show, titled “Moose, Deer, Ticks and Hicks,” is full of hilarious stories and jokes about patrolling the roads of York County.

McKinney has been featured multiple times on “The Tonight Show,” specials on Comedy Central, appeared on “The King Of Queens” and in movies “The Zoo Keeper” and “Here Comes The Boom.” McKinney is also part of the Blue Collar Comedy Next Generation Tour with Bill Engvall. For more information or to buy tickets, visit www.citytheater.org or www.justonmckinney.com.

I recently spoke with McKinney about his upcoming show, career and downtown Biddeford.

Juston McKinney Juston McKinney When did you first realize you wanted to be a comedian?

When I was in junior high school I was talking with friends and I told them I wanted to be a comedian. They all laughed and I thought, ‘Wow, this is pretty easy.’

How did you transition from being a cop to a comedian?

I was destined to be a comedian. When I was working as a patrol officer I went to an open mic night in Boston and did a threeminute comedy routine. That’s when I got the bug. The first time I went down there and got on stage I didn’t tell anybody. I didn’t want anyone to know. But it went so well, the next time I invited people to come see me. It ended up being 30 people going to Boston to see me. I didn’t do as well that time. After my performance, I saw a guy who performed the same material as he did months ago. I thought to myself, ‘Wow, you can use the same jokes?’ Shows how inexperienced and naïve I was at the time.

Some people think cops are so serious and don’t have a sense of humor, is that true?

It’s unfortunate that some people have that conception. Police officers do have to do that job. If they gave warnings all the time, nobody would obey the law. I tried to treat people like they were my father. I was well liked. It’s like any profession, you get people who like to have fun and joke around and others don’t. Some people don’t even realize how funny they are.

Who is your favorite comedian?

Jerry Seinfeld. I like him because of his observations and ability to work cleanly. “Seinfeld” was my favorite TV show. I was also influenced by so many others, like Eddie Murphy, Sam Kinison, George Carlin and Rodney Dangerfield. Needless to say, I’m a big ‘80s guy.

How do you deal with hecklers and quiet crowds?

If you have quiet crowds you can address it and call them out. You can pick on something in the room or change your material if it’s not working. With hecklers, you have to put them in their place and take control of the room. If they still don’t stop after that, they are thrown out. The good thing is, the crowd is always on the comedian’s side.

Any unusual performances that stand out?

My first TV appearance for a show on Comedy Central was in Harlem and I was introduced by Tommy Davidson (from “In Living Color”). When Tommy introduced me he said ‘And can you believe this guy used to be a cop?’ Some people in the crowd started booing, but luckily I was so new and naïve I just went on and did my show and won everybody over.

If you could do anything else besides law enforcement or being a comedian, what would it be?

I would be a teacher. Probably teaching history. I love the history channel and I’m a huge U.S. history buff.

How did you come up with the title of your show?

The title pertains to all the thing I had to deal with as a deputy sheriff working in the woods of Maine. One time I hit a deer, had to shoot another deer, constantly had to check myself for ticks after a shift. Hicks is a double entendre referring to some people we had to deal with and also, Hicks was the name of my partner. Being a deputy sheriff in Maine is a ‘dangerous’ job.

Why is City Theater a good venue for a show?

I have never been to City Theater, but have heard so many great things about it. I chose it because of its location in the middle of downtown Biddeford and its seating capacity is ideal for the show.

What do you like most about downtown Biddeford?

I used to live on Cleaves Street in Biddeford. Downtown Biddeford always had a cool vibe, great restaurants and businesses.

Is Biddeford good material for your show?

My show is usually not specific to cities or towns, but Maine in general. If something special at the time happens, I work that into my show. I do check the local police logs for material wherever I’m doing a show.

What is most memorable downtown moment?

I left my house in my York County Sheriff’s police car and was headed to work. I got flagged down by someone and when I pulled over, they said they just got hit by a Munchkin doughnut. They even showed me the powdered residue where they got hit. To make the person happy, I took the information and some photos. I did notify the Biddeford Police Department and told them what happened. I told them I thought their town was getting a little out of control with all the drive-by Munchkins.

Have you ever heard someone say, “There’s nothing to do in downtown Biddeford?” 52 is written by Biddeford Downtown Development Commission Chairman Brian Keely (husband of Editor Molly Lovell-Keely) and aims to disprove that. He will feature one thing to do a week – 52 weeks in a year. The DDC’s mission is to promote, market, improve and revitalize downtown Biddeford. For more information, contact Keely at ddcbiddeford@yahoo.com.

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