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Mark Bennett B-Sides

August 13, 2008

MARK BENNETT: For Auggie Smith, comedy is serious business

TERRE HAUTE — Auggie Smith rants for a living.

These days, he realizes the people watching his act have done some real-life ranting at the gas pumps, supermarket checkout lines and FEMA meetings. Comedy, in the summer of 2008, is serious business.

Folks on the brink of tears each time they open their wallet need to laugh, and want to laugh, especially when they pay for that chance.

Comedians don’t take an oath of office, but if they did, Auggie Smith would have his right hand up, promising to do his best when he and the “Bob and Tom Comedy All-Stars Tour” visits the Indiana Theatre on Aug. 23. All but 500 of the 1,500 tickets — at $31.50 apiece — have been sold.

“People’s incomes aren’t going up right now in America, so I understand it’s a huge deal for you to come out and see the show,” Smith said by telephone Tuesday. “It’s people getting a babysitter and going out and paying money and sitting down. And I just want people to know that I take that responsibility very, very seriously.”

Of course, the Montana-born comic is not vowing you’ll find him funny, only that he’ll leave it all on the stage, trying.

“People don’t always like everything you say or do,” he said. “I mean, that’s the way comedy is. Comedy has targets, and it has to have targets to be funny. And with some of those targets, you’re going to hear something that’s very personal to you. But the one thing I can promise you is, you’re going to get the best show I’ve got.”

Listeners of “The Bob and Tom Show,” heard locally on WWVR-FM 105.5, must like Smith. He makes frequent appearances on that nationally syndicated radio program, co-hosted by Bob Kevoian and Tom Griswold from Indianapolis. Rather than a master of one-liners, Smith dissects quirks and issues in extended rants, rapid-fire style. Speaking of rapid fire, weaponry provided Smith fodder for his first rant on “Bob and Tom.”

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