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Code Enforcement Officer steps into the role of a stand-up comic
The average person might struggle to find the humor in building codes, but lord knows Denney Bryan has tried.
Bryan is the code enforcement officer for the City of Bonney Lake by day, ensuring constructs meet muster. And at night, he's recently taken to the stage with his stand-up routine to make audiences chuckle—or bomb trying.
"It started a year ago when, as a gift, my wife and children bought me a spot in a three-day class up at [University of Washington]," Bryan said.
The class was Beginning Stand-up Comedy, taught by Stu Stuart. The format called for students to write a five-minute set on the first day, take peer critique on the second day, rewrite on the third day, and perform in front of an audience at the Seattle Underground the night afterward.
The exercise got off to a rocky start.
"I kind of bombed that second day," Bryan said. "I could tell when I was up there that some people were shaking their heads, going 'No that won't work,' or 'That delivery won't work for that joke.'"
Bryan wound up scrapping everything he had written and wrote and rehearsed a new set the day of his Underground performance. Incidentally, it became the first time he performed comedy for his colleagues in city hall.
"I just made a quick announcement in the office that day letting everyone know, 'Hey, I'm going to be practicing my set for tonight if anyone wants to come watch,'" he said. "I think it was a tremendous help to be able to practice and say, 'Okay, this is what it's like to perform in front of people.'"
That first evening at the Underground went smoothly enough that Bryan has gone on stage a handful of times since, though he hasn't nailed down his solid five minutes just yet.
"My sets have changed every time I perform," he said. "There's probably not a joke that repeats from set-to-set, but maybe a situation or theme from my life that I talk about from different angles.
"That's my sense of humor. I like to look at the things in my life and discover what's funny about them."
Bryan cited "old school" stars like Buddy Hackett, Don Rickles and Redd Foxx as inspirations from his childhood.
Bryan was most recently invited to be the "Opening opener's open," he joked, for a wellness-themed lunchtime event under the Bonney Lake-Sumner Relay For Life banner.
So will he continue?
"It's hard to say," he said. "You never know what tomorrow will bring. But if an opportunity comes my way, I won't turn it down."