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Former class clown is a funny guy

Comedian Koran Dunbar is no rookie to performing arts

Comedian Koran Dunbar is no rookie to performing arts

August 03, 2008|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

Koran Dunbar might be new to theater, but he's not new to the stage.

Dunbar was cast as Alvin Patterson in Washington County Playhouse Dinner Theater's production of "Annie Warbucks," the final show in the dinner theater company's season. The play runs through Saturday, Sept. 6.

The professional stand-up comedian is no rookie to the performing arts.

Dunbar has appeared on a "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" bit, was on an episode of MTV's "The Real World" and had a crew filming his every move for a documentary about his struggles as a comedian. An indie movie about a stand-up show in Tokyo is also in the works, Dunbar said.

Comedy, though, is where Dunbar's career began.

"I started doing comedy at the lowest point in my life," Dunbar said. "I was going to college, I was raising my son and working 35 hours a week. At that point I realized, something's got to give. I can't spread myself thin."

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Dunbar is a 26-year-old single father living in Greencastle, Pa., though most of his family lives in the New England region, where he was born. His accent slips out when he says New "Yawk."

Dunbar attended Greencastle-Antrim High School, where he was the class clown. He said '90s-era sitcoms "Martin" and "In Living Color" provided great comedic material for class projects. "Finally, it got to the point where I was making teachers laugh," he said.

But in college, he pursued journalism because he didn't think he could make a living as a comedian.

"It got to the point that comedy is something that I wanted to do," Dunbar said. He said he decided to focus on two things, "my son, and use whatever's left for comedy."

Dunbar started doing open mics and eventually got regular spots at a now-closed comedy club in Hagerstown, honing his skills thanks to his mentor Quevaughn Bryant, who now lives in California. Over time, Dunbar started branching out to bigger things.

He wangled a gig in the Hamptons, N.Y., entertaining crowds between filmings of MTV's "Beach House" programming. He and two of his friends appeared in a Conan O'Brien bit as the three, sole members of the Joel Goddard fan club (you can find the clip on YouTube).

There also was his role as the bully in the film "Dumb and Dumberer" - a role he said he needs to remove from his resume.

"My scene ended up getting cut," he said. "And I told everybody about it."

But he considers it no harm no foul because the film wasn't a critical success. "I'm kind of glad I was not in the movie," he said.

Most recently, Dunbar appeared on episode 10 of MTV's "The Real World XX: Hollywood." The episode first aired June 18 and is the one when cast member Dave Sky, a Waynesboro, Pa., native and Dunbar's buddy, was hosting a comedy show featuring Dunbar and several other comedians.

You don't see Dunbar cracking jokes but you do see him providing moral support and telling the audience how great Dave did as a host, considering it was Sky's first foray into stand-up comedy. You can view the episode at MTV.com.

Even though Dunbar was only on camera for 20 seconds or so, he said he's been getting calls from people asking him to audition for other network reality TV shows.

"I told myself I really don't want to do reality TV," he said.

Instead, Dunbar says he's sticking to comedy. A production crew has been filming a documentary about Dunbar's struggles as a stand-up comedian trying to juggle his career and his obligations as a father. The documentary, called "Homegrown," will be released on the Web in early 2009, Dunbar said.

There's also an indie film in the works, about him, his friend and fellow comedian Hans Scharler, and another funny man from the documentary crew doing a comedy show in Tokyo.

Aside from getting his name out there, Dunbar says he also faces other obstacles. At auditions, the thinking is "'Koran, you're black, we want you to do Def Comedy Jam,'" Dunbar said.

"What if I don't want to do that? When I do comedy I don't like to classify comedy. If it's funny, it's funny, and everybody will laugh."

Obstacles aside, Dunbar says he's finally reached a point in his life where he knows comedy is a viable way to make a living. He's continuing to grow, trying to come up with his own brand of comedy. But at the end of the day, Dunbar says he's just a regular guy with a 9-to-5, a 6-year-old son, and hopes that the future has something great in store.

"I think at the pace I'm going now, I think I'm doing something right," Dunbar said.

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