THE FUNNY FARM Kronberg's business is funny business

By John Benson

When looking at Comedian Ben Kronberg’s photo, there are two things that stand out: not only does he wear the obligatory smart-guy Elvis Costello-like glasses, but his bushy beard is an unkempt mess. If one didn’t know better, they’d assume Kronberg was going for a full hipster look.

“It’s my natural growth pattern, so I guess my soul is unkempt,” said Kronberg, calling from a comedy club in Austin, Texas. “Yeah, when it grows out, I’m not trying to trim it or shape it. There are other guys with super majestic beards that have this mountain-man vibe. With mine, even though it’s longer and bushier, it’s not that thick. So I just go with it.”

For the past few years, Kron-berg has been going with the flow as a comedian on the rise. Since his breakout performance at the 2007 HBO Aspen Comedy Festival, Kronberg has performed on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” “Last Call with Carson Daly” and the third season of John Oliver’s “New York Stand Up Special.”

Though he recently co-starred in an episode of MTV’s “I Just Want My Pants Back” and is starring in his own Web series, “Ted & Gracie,” the Denver native is hoping 2013 is the year his comedy breaks wide open.

“I’m going to be taping a Comedy Central half-hour special the beginning of March in Boston,” Kronberg said. “That’s kind of my next big thing. I’m just trying to move forward and getting more sets that kind of help me get out there. There are so many comedians that people think about whenever they want to see comedy. I want to become one of those comedians that they think about.”

Comedy lovers can see Kronberg’s Youngstown debut Friday and Saturday at The Funny Farm. The New York City resident said he’s looking forward to touring more in the Midwest. He admits playing new venues provides him with a feeling of validation. As in, not only is he getting out of the house, but he feels like his career is moving forward.

Stylistically speaking, Kronberg said he’s been compared to the likes of Mitch Hedberg and Zach Galifianakis.

“I generally do one-liners and some songs,” said Kronberg. “I started out as a guitar comic. I’m a real fan of wordplay, including but not limited to puns. That’s a big thing. A lot of times people’s visions or experiences of puns are jokes your dad will tell you, which is kind of why I like them, because it has this kind of friendliness to it, but then I try to put a twist on it and take it to a different place. Mostly, I guess some people will call them quirky observations or random nonsequiturs. I pretty much talk about everything.”

Still, the one thing we can’t stop talking about is that beard. Considering Kronberg calls Brooklyn, N.Y., home, which in case you didn’t know is the epicenter of hipsterdom, he must really stick out with thick glasses and facial hair.

“Well yeah, there’s the two people I would get mistaken for are either hipster or Hasidic Jew,” Kronberg said. “I would not consider myself either. Actually, I’ve been noticing less and less beards on the subway lately, but I’m trying to stick it out.”

When asked if he’s sticking it out to prove that he’s not the trendy hipster everyone thinks he is, Kronberg said, laughing, “Exactly.”

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