Feature: Jamie Campbell brings BIG DAD ENERGY to Dallas!

 Big Dad Energy


An Article by Natalie Shaw

Jamie Campbell, as I've known him, has always been a funny guy. Onstage, as an actor, he is full of physical comedy and punchy line delivery, so it's definitely no surprise that he landed on his feet as a comedian. I first met Jamie Campbell when I was a Senior at Oklahoma State University studying Theatre. He had just started his first year of Graduate School and later that Spring, we were cast in a play together. He played Michael Flaherty and I played his daughter, Pegeen in Playboy of the Western World.  I remember his physical comedy quite vividly and how awesome he was at using the space around him to tell the story. I graduated shortly after that, and had moved to Texas. Social Media was beginning to flourish and had become the best way to check in with friends and acquaintances. Over the years, I saw tidbits here and there about how Jamie was doing as a comedian in the Chicago area, and it's been so exciting to see him grow more and more and become the hilarious personality that he is today! When I found out that he was bringing his new show, Big Dad Energy to Dallas, I knew I had to get there! 

Enjoy this one-on-one interview with Jamie, the "Big Dad" himself! And, make plans to watch his hilarious new show this Friday at the Stomping Ground Comedy Theater at 9pm! Tickets can be purchased at https://stompinggroundcomedy.org/calendar/big-dad-energy/

1. How did you get your start as a comedian?

Way back in 2006, when I was in graduate school studying Theatre (at Oklahoma State University),  I noticed a flyer on the wall in the green room that advertised a full-time Comedy Studies program at The Second City in Chicago. Comedy had always been something that had a hold on me, but until that moment, I never thought of it being a potential career option.

When I was a kid, I used to sneak and listen to my dad’s Cheech & Chong and Eddie Murphy cassette tapes when he was at work. From those early years, comedy was an escape for me. I had a rough childhood, and comedy and music became a way to take my mind out of those situations - sort of a mental refuge. But, I had no idea how to go about creating and performing comedy on my own. 

That flyer sort-of ignited a flame of possibility. I didn’t have anything to lose, so I applied. I never expected to get in, and when my acceptance letter arrived, I was on cloud nine. I moved to Chicago, where I spent the next eight years performing on the Windy City’s various stages, doing stand-up, improv, and sketch comedy. In many ways, that city was my true graduate school. 

Looking back, it’s funny how important getting into that program was to me. The Second City is often the holy grail for people getting a start in comedy, but I soon found the city to be full of innovative stages and venues where I was able to take risks, fall down, and soar. Probably the two places that influenced me the most were The ComedySportz Theatre and The Annoyance. They were the first spaces that believed in me and gave me a place to experiment and grow as a writer and performer. Second City was the gateway, but the city as a whole was my campus. 

2. Twenty years ago, would you have pictured yourself as a stand-up comedian? Why or Why not?

I think that, if you really pressed me, I would say “yes.”  But, I wasn’t ready to take that leap. I had no idea HOW to take that leap. Twenty years ago, I was a twenty-something college student, immersed in the desire to do edgy, groundbreaking, contemporary theatre. But, in the back of my mind, stand-ups were my heroes. 

Story has always been at the heart of what I do. The main difference is that with stand-up comedy, the story is my own. And, because it is my own, I can choose to leave the audience with a sense of joy and hope. After what the world has been through over the past few years, I think we could all use that. 

3. What exactly is "Big Dad Energy?"

“Big Dad Energy” is a lot of things. And, you don’t have to be a dad to have it. You don’t have to be a man to have it.  As people approach middle age, we have all of this knowledge that has accumulated over the past four decades of our lives. And, we want to pass that knowledge on - to help the next generation learn from our mistakes and benefit from everything we’ve learned. That’s “Big Dad Energy.”

The title of the show stems from the fact that, while I sure seem like a dad, I don’t actually have any kids.  This show is all about what it’s like to get married in your 40s and realize parenthood is not going to happen. It’s an hour of stand-up comedy and storytelling, bookended by a couple of musical numbers. 

I’m excited to be bringing it to Dallas. The show has already won numerous awards, including being named “Best of Fringe” at the Kansas City Fringe Festival and “Best Comedy” at Tucson Fringe. Last year, a production team filmed the show for an upcoming streaming release, but in the meantime, I’m touring it throughout the nation and am thrilled to be at Stomping Ground Comedy this weekend.

4. We're so excited to have you here in Dallas! What do you absolutely love about Texas and what do you absolutely loathe about Texas? 

I love so much about Texas. Pantera. Nolan Ryan. The size of your toast. I love the rich culture and history of the state and the way Texans treat me every time I visit. 

What do I loathe? I’m a big guy, so, the heat. Any time I come to Texas in the middle of the summer, I have to bring a backup set of clothing everywhere I go, because any time I go outside, I look like I’m entering a wet t-shirt contest. 

5. Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

Texas has an amazing performing art scene, and Dallas has some incredible local comedy being created. If you haven’t taken the time to check out what’s going on at Stomping Ground Comedy, you owe it to yourself to see the groundbreaking  art that’s being created in your community. Even if you can’t make it while I’m in town, I hope you’ll make a point to check that space out soon. 

See You There!