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Trading comedy

Tom Segura brings his dark, sarcastic comedy stylings to Tower Theatre.

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Comedian Tom Segura performs three shows at Tower Theatre Tuesday and Jan. 23. - PROVIDED
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  • Comedian Tom Segura performs three shows at Tower Theatre Tuesday and Jan. 23.

Comedian Tom Segura, known for his Netflix specials Disgraceful, Completely Normal and Mostly Stories, is headed to Oklahoma City for two nights of comedy at Tower Theatre as part of his Take It Down tour.

Chad Whitehead, operating partner of Tower Theatre, 425 NW 23rd St., said this is a great opportunity for Oklahomans to catch a nationally known comedian in a relatively intimate setting.

“For me, if you like dark, sarcastic comedy, Tom has become a go-to in that genre. He is a fantastic watcher of modern pop culture, and I think he can dissect it in a way that’s honest but still enjoyable,” Whitehead said. “That’s what great comedians do. That’s the secret to their trade. They can call out things that are awkward or uncomfortable or very honestly need to be talked about but do it in a way that we can all still sit in the room and enjoy and want to pay to see again.”

Segura, originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, has made television appearances on Conan and The Late Late Show and has a role in the Mark Wahlberg comedy Instant Family. In 2018, CBS ordered a pilot with Segura and his wife, Christina Pazsitzky, called The Little Things, about the “funny coping mechanisms that get you through the harder parenting dilemmas,” according to Deadline.

Whitehead said he thinks Segura’s movie and TV roles so far are just the beginning.

“It’s sort of your chance to catch a comedy star but then also someone who’s probably going to keep climbing in his career and doing more visible things in movies and TV,” he said.

When booking any show, comedy or otherwise, Whitehead said, there’s a mix of the venue’s interest, the talent’s interest and the schedule.

“In our case, when an artist is as high-profile as Tom Segura, you can cut through our interest real quick because any venue in America would love to have Tom Segura for two nights,” he said.

Segura is set for three performances at Tower Theatre on Tuesday and Jan. 23.

“In his case, it was an easy sell for us; January’s a slower time of year, so there was a lot less on the calendar, so that made it easy to look at a couple of dates in a row that worked,” Whitehead said.

He thinks the appetite for comedy is growing nationwide.

“I’ve made a concerted effort … to book more comedy because I think it is an area of entertainment that a growing amount of people really enjoy,” he said. “The flip side of that is it’s hard to land those marquee artists because they are in such high demand.”

Bringing in Maria Bamford in late 2017 was the first domino in bringing bigger comedy acts to Tower Theatre.

“We brought in Maria Bamford. ... She was the biggest name that we had brought out, and the agents and the managers track things like that, and that started to put us on the map,” he said. “So ... when Hannibal Buress wanted to come to town, we could host a comedian of his quality and of his stature, which is exactly what led to Tom Segura.”

Whitehead said each successful event helps build opportunities for future bookings.

“The more we have the successful shows that really show the financial strength of the market, that will lead to more and more,” he said.

Stage exposure

Tower Theatre in particular works well for comedy.

“What works great about Tower is that it’s mid-size, not too big, so a comedian who is dependent on working with the crowd to get them going — our seating cap is just over 600 — it’s a great size for that,” Whitehead said. “It also has a terraced floor, so it’s great for the fan because they can sit and see everything that’s happening on stage without anyone blocking their view.”

That view isn’t necessarily only beneficial for the fan.

“The flip side of that is depending on how the lights are set, the comedian can see the entire crowd,” Whitehead said. “He doesn’t just see the first row of heads and then everyone’s behind them.”

In some cases, seeing a show at Tower Theatre could be a way to hear some exclusive comedy.

“I love Oklahoma City, but I love it enough to be OK with someone to poke a little fun at it,” Whitehead said. “You always hope that a comedian will be in town long enough to notice some of the uniqueness about a town and have a joke or two that’s specific for just their experience in the market. So I look forward to stuff like that that’s not gonna be in the Netflix special, and it’s never going to be used in any other town.”

However, in the Netflix and podcasting era, it’s not only touring that top-flight comedians have to fit into their schedule.

“The minute you become a successful comedian, then you’ve got book deals, you’ve got movie opportunities, you’ve got TV opportunities that blow up your schedule,” Whitehead said. “Just on podcasts alone, some of these comedians are making a lot of extra income with things like that that take up a lot of time. So they’re very in demand, and they know it.”

Segura’s podcast Your Mom’s House, which he co-hosts with Pazsitzky, was a finalist for Best Comedy Podcast at the Stitcher Awards; he also regularly appears on SiriusXM radio comedy channels and has guested on podcasts including The Joe Rogan Experience and WTF with Marc Maron among others.

Segura has released three stand-up comedy albums, all of which hit No. 1 on the iTunes and Billboard Comedy charts.

“Tom’s just a master craftsman at his trade, and his trade is comedy,” Whitehead said. “And he wasn’t a household name for a long time while he was earning his chops, and now he’s become that household name.”

Visit towertheatreokc.com.

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