Comedian Steve Sabo comes to Funny Farm
By JOHN BENSON
Comedian Steve Sabo is used to being confused with others who share a similar name.
This was evident last year when NFL Films Legend Steve Sabol died. Granted, his name is spelled differently but Sabo said it was close enough to freak out some folks.
“I had to tell a lot of people that wasn’t me,” said Sabo, calling from Idaho. “But there are a lot of Steve Sabos out there. Some of them are famous in their own field. It’s kind of interesting. There’s a bodybuilder who is well known. There’s a professional wrestler. There’s an actor, there’s an Atlanta Falcon, a doctor and a guy who murdered his wife in 1910.”
So gauging the namesake competition, where does Sabo rank in the group?
“That’s what I’m going trying to figure out,” Sabo laughed. “I think I’m the seventh most famous Steve Sabo.”
Sabo got his stand-up start in the early ’90s, but it was obvious years before that comedy was in the Cuyahoga Falls native’s future. While his friends were listening to boomboxes jamming to Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, he spent his time listening to cassettes from his heroes like Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy and George Carlin.
Today, Sabo said he’s influenced by the likes of Bill Burr, Louis CK and Jim Jefferies, in that order. Career-wise, he’s working on the follow-up to his last DVD “Mental Fornication.”
“I don’t want to put it out too early,” Sabo said. “I think if you do that to get something out there, you might not have the best product you’re looking for. I’ve already got four CDs so I want it to be the perfect thing. I’ve been working on more of corporate shows. And honestly right now I’m at the tail end of a real long road tour. So I’m just looking forward to rest.”
Rest may be in his future but that’s not before he returns to Youngstown for a show tonight at the Funny Farm, at Mojo’s in Austintown (call 330-759-4242 for tickets). Audiences better get ready for his honest, observational approach.
“I’m not sure I would compare myself to anybody but I’d say my style is direct,” Sabo said. “I’m not somebody who is going to be super in your face. I do a lot of stories about real life, I talk about dating, pop culture and things everybody can relate to. I think that’s what makes my style unique.”
Such uniqueness also appeals to a wide array of audiences. Take for instance a stretch in 2008 when Sabo not only was one of only four comedians chosen to perform at Insane Clown Posse’s “Gathering of the Juggalos” event, but also in the same year he opened for comedy legend Joan Rivers and performed for the troops in Iraq and Kuwait.
Even though playing in front of the troops meant traveling to dangerous areas, and sharing the stage with Rivers was nerve-racking, it’s the fact Sabo survived a Juggalos concert that stands out as a major achievement.
“You’re not kidding,” Sabo said. “That’s not a gig that’s normally in my comfort zone but it’s funny. It is dangerous and harsh. That’s the reason why I did it, to challenge myself to see if I could appeal to a whole different type of crowd and I made it work. It was good times.”
Just to confirm, is Sabo expecting any Juggalos at his upcoming Youngstown show?
“I can’t make that guarantee but I’m 99.9 percent sure there will be no red pop or slinkies thrown,” Sabo said. “And why the slinkies? That’s the part that confused me.”