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Comedian rides a kickstand and a microphone back to W.Va.

Courtesy photo
Before going into standup, comedian Julie Scoggins worked as, among other things, a Frito Lay route salesperson in the Virgin Islands. She comes to The Comedy Zone this weekend with CJ Harlow.

WANT TO GO?

Julie Scoggins and CJ Harlow

WHERE: The Comedy Zone, Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites, 400 Second Ave., South Charleston

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, 8 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. Saturday

TICKETS: $10

INFO: 304-414-2386 or www.comedyzonecharleston.com

Must be at least 21 to attend

 CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It's not exactly a promise, but comedian Julie Scoggins might be coming to town a day early.

Scoggins performs Friday and Saturday night at The Comedy Zone in South Charleston, but Thursday night is Bike Night at Quaker Steak & Lube, and she might be riding her motorcycle up from her home in North Carolina.

"If the weather is OK," she said. "Those little summer storms, I can take, just not those big ones that last three days."

She knows the way to Charleston pretty well by now.

"I've been coming to The Comedy Zone since they opened it," she said, although that might not be entirely true. The Comedy Zone opened in Charleston in 1990, but the 40-something  entertainer said she didn't even step in a comedy club until she was 30 and didn't get started doing standup until after that.

It's a wonder she got into it at all.

Before Scoggins made show business her life, she was a cabbie, a truck driver and worked as a Frito Lay route salesperson in the Virgin Islands.

"We lived down there for four years," she said, sounding like she still kind of missed living on a boat.

Scoggins said she left because her husband got tired of it. He was a mechanical engineer, and the Virgin Islands doesn't have much use for mechanical engineers. Instead, he worked as a machinist, manufacturing spare parts for the many boats in the area.

"It's dirty, hot and dangerous work," the comedian said. "It paid pretty good, but it was rough."

Eventually, they sold their boat and returned to the mainland. Back on the continent, they bought a brand new pickup and hit the road, exploring places she'd heard about from Charles Kuralt's show, "On The Road."

They started in Ely, Minn., a town Kuralt particularly favored and frequently mentioned, and in two months, drove 12,000 miles before returning home to North Carolina.

Scoggins still loves to hit the road and considers travel one of the nice extras that comes with being a standup comedian. Occasionally, her husband will come along.

She said, "He likes to go to Florida with me in January. I used to go to the Bahamas every year, and he liked going for that one. He usually wants to go to the cool gigs. He doesn't want to go to Toledo, necessarily."

It might take a particular kind of person to appreciate Toledo, perhaps, but Scoggins doesn't mind. Different cities mean different people and different ideas. She likes traveling by motorcycle and by car. Flying is fine, too, but she's less enthusiastic about cruise ships.

"A lot of my friends who've been doing comedy as long as I have, who don't have television [exposure] get frustrated and do them," she said. "They think their career isn't moving fast enough and they turn to the cruise ships."

It's not all bad, she acknowledged.

"They pay a lot," Scoggins said. "They take care of everything. They fly you to the boat. They feed you. You have no expenses and you do, like, three shows a day. Easy."

The problem is cruises are vacations. The audiences aren't necessarily there to see the performers. It's a nice extra, but probably not the reason why they booked the trip.

"So people come home from the cruise, and they say that comedian was hysterical."

Their friends ask, "Well, who was it?" And the people from the cruise say, "I don't know."

The joys and pains of travel figure into Scoggins' comedy. She frequently talks about getting to wherever she's performing, where she's staying and sometimes what happened the last time she was in town.

Over the phone, she tried to remember something about West Virginia.

"I went to Jesco White's house once," she said. "Yeah, I went up in the holler."

She groaned, remembering.

"But that's not really funny." She laughed. "That was kind of serious."

And mostly off the record.

Reach Bill Lynch at lynch@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.


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