March, 14 2020 | 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Following humorist Tim Northern’s appearance as a finalist on the nationally televised “Star Search”, Naomi Judd raved about his performance. “He’s the only one that could be a member of Mensa,” she said. “I absolutely adore the cerebral humor.”
Noted intellectual (and former game show host) Ben Stein agreed with her assessment, adding his own accolade, “I love that fact that he assumes his audience has a brain!”
Coming from an Ivy League presidential pundit, that’s high praise indeed for someone who never set foot in college. “It was a great moment,” Tim says. And it’s exactly the response he’s hoping for each and every time he takes the stage. “That’s what I’m striving for. I provide you with two-thirds of the joke, and you provide the other third. It’s like ‘do-it-yourself’ comedy.”
That do-it-yourself approach is paying off for the Nashville native, whose influences are a veritable Who’s Who of comic genius. “George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Steven Wright – I like all of ‘em.” Once Tim takes control of the mike, he relies on much the same type of material that those classic comedians used to land in the national spotlight – plain and simple, Tim Northern is a word man.
“Love words. Love ‘em!” Tim says. His enthusiasm for words and language results in what can aptly be described as humor for the thinking person, a unique combination of intellect and fun-filled observation. And yet, it’s mainstream humor that everyone understands. Simply put, Tim Northern is punster of the highest caliber.
“A lot of people say puns are the lowest form of humor,” he admits. “It’s knowing how to pull ‘em off that makes it work. I basically do set-ups and punch lines. I don’t tell stories. I don’t try to preach. I don’t try to come up with some kind of point of view. I’m making fun of words, cleverly disguised puns.”
And he does it – for the most part – with a straight face. Unlike some comics who laugh at their own jokes, Tim prefers to present an observation to his audience. He allows them time to ponder what he’s said, then lets them do the laughing.
“If I did it with a big grin, it would be very cornball. My delivery of the puns makes them more palatable. I don’t wanna laugh, because then the audience will know that’s when they’re supposed to laugh. I’d rather for them to laugh when they’re supposed to without my prompting.”
But, like any humorist, sometimes the absurdity of what Tim’s saying does tickle his funny bone. “There are times when I laugh just because it’s so silly,” he says. “I’ll laugh at the absurdity of what I said – but very sparingly. I don’t want that to be a crutch. I do jokes about the most absurd things, and I know the audience is thinking, ‘How is that gonna be funny?’ That’s when I give them a chance to put it all together. It’s smart humor.”
Tim continually hones that smart humor, seeking – and finding – new turns of phrase on a daily basis. On the road for much of the year, he uses that travel time for wordplay whenever possible.
“I’m excited when I’m in a different town, a different setting,” he says. “It gets my creative juices going, gets me thinking more. I might just be talking to people, or else reading a newspaper when something will hit me – a weird sentence, maybe. I’ll explore it, and things happen.”