It’s only fitting that Dan Cummins kicks off his national theater tour just a mile from where he first hit the stage as a fledgling stand-up.
With two shows at the Bing Crosby Theater on Sunday to kick off his “Burn It All Down” journey, Cummins cut the humorist’s teeth with a now-defunct season ticket nearly a quarter-century ago.
“It was an unforgettable sports bar not far from what is now Value Village,” says Cummins. “The season ticket had something called a ‘club’ named Laughs. It was this little place in a sports bar. ”
Cummins, 45, doesn’t remember what he delivered, but he can still see the area of the room set aside for comics. “It was this little place with plywood painted black,” Cummins said over the phone from her home in Coeur d’Alene. ”
Cummins’ next stop is Sprague Avenue. Here, he delivers topical humor in a fiery way.
Cummins said, “This tour is going to address the cultural polarization we’ve been through over the last few years.” We see it. Everyone has become so tribal. Mostly either left or right. There are so many more options. The spectrum is huge, but people are ignoring it.”
Cummins elaborates on rules, conventions and beliefs. “We talk about heavy topics like abortion. We talk about lack of critical thinking. There’s a lot to keep going.”
Unlike many of his peers, Cummins wasn’t a comedy kid while growing up in rural Riggins, Idaho in the ’80s. “I grew up in a city no one had heard of,” Cummins said. “It was before satellite. It wasn’t, but I loved it because it was what I knew.
Cummins came of age four hours south of Spokane, eating horror movies like potato chips and reading National Geographic. Cummins preferred singer-songwriter/horror director Rob Zombie to the iconic Eddie Murphy.
“I wasn’t a comedy nerd when I was a kid, and I’m still not a comedy nerd,” Cummins said. “I love George Carlin, but I would rather read David Sedaris. I never dreamed of it as.”
After graduating from Gonzaga University in 1999 with a degree in psychology, Mr. Cummins was stunned by the qualifications and pay scale he was offered. “I had no idea what kind of job I was going to do after graduation,” Cummins said. “I was also really shocked at how little I could make in the world of psychology. I was making $1,500 a month, which barely covered my rent and student loans. No. I never looked ahead, so it was on me, and when I went to Gonzaga, I was like, “Wow, this is a cool major.” I want to study because it is interesting.”
Luckily, Cummins’ ex-wife encouraged him to try an open mic night at Laughs. “Stand-up he tried the shot and was instantly hooked,” Cummins says. “That was what I was trying to do.”
But the fathers of 17 and 15-year-olds aren’t comic at heart like many other stand-ups. “I know there are a lot of people out there who just want to do little things in front of an audience, but I admire people like Jordan Peele who are hilarious and also make horror movies,” Cummins said. “Comedians are creative people, and it makes sense that there are different outlets for their creativity, so there’s no reason not to veer in other directions.”
Cummins and his wife, Lynze Cummins, host two podcasts. Usually there are “Timesuck” and “Scared to Death” that are funny, informative and surprising. The latter consists of spooky horror and true crime stories. “We enjoy the podcast a lot,” he says Cummins.
After the tour, Cummins will host a camp event and perform in the Poconos in September.
“This is our second year doing this,” says Cummins. “For my comedy and podcast fans, this is a unique situation. We have a 400-acre camp with a heated pool and some cool amenities. I’m putting my stuff together and just having fun, which is great, but right now my focus is on the tour.”
“Burn it All Down” begins in the city that left an indelible mark on Cummins.
“I love Spokane for many reasons,” Cummins said. “I will never forget the first time I saw Spokane. I was like, ‘This city is so huge! But I come from very little Riggins. My career didn’t just start in Spokane. It’s where Lindsay and I always go. ”
Cummins often drives to concerts.
“I just saw Jane’s Addiction and The Smashing Pumpkins at the Spokane Arena in November. They played right across from where my comedy career started. How cool is that?”