Local comedian Keith Lowell Jensen brings it home for live recording

Local comic Keith Lowell Jensen on January 17, 2019.
Local comic Keith Lowell Jensen on January 17, 2019. jvillegas@sacbee.com

One of the first comedy bits Keith Lowell Jensen performed was a long 10-minute story.

“And it bombed, it bombed really hard,” said Jensen, a longtime Sacramento resident.

His bits have gotten a lot better — and a lot more popular — since that 10-minute story. The stand-up comedian should be on friendly turf when he tells stories during his upcoming live show “Not for Rehire” at Folsom Lake College’s Harris Center on Saturday, Feb. 9.

The approximately 75-minute show centers around Jensen’s employment failures, from his first job at 15 to his early stand-up career.

Jensen said this is the first special he has done that is built on a single theme, with a narrative arc from beginning to end.

“I think that (original experience) scared me into to doing shorter bits, more traditional jokes, maybe,” Jensen said. “And then I have slowly worked my way back towards doing storytelling and those longer bits.”

This is one of the more accessible shows he has ever done, Jensen said. Everyone has had jobs that were hard, and trying to find where you fit in the world is something that just about anyone can relate to.

Also, with President Donald Trump in office and the prevalence of social media, there is no shortage of topical political comedy, Jensen said. He doesn’t feel driven to tell those kinds of jokes because there are other comedians out there filling that need.

“It may fit my age as well,” Jensen said. “I’m an older comedian now and so, you know, Grandpa’s on the porch in his rocking chair reflecting on his stories.”

Jensen, who moved to Roseville from Corona with his parents when he was a teenager, recorded his first comedy album “To the Moon” in 2009 at Luna’s Cafe and Juice Bar on 16th Street in midtown.

At the time, Jensen said he was seeing people do off-site headline gigs and wanted in.

But he needed to prove that he could handle a lengthy stand-up performance, Jensen said. So, he went to a club where he had a good relationship with the owner.

“And it was literally me recording an hour just to prove to bookers that I could do an hour,” Jensen said, adding that the album did really well.

Jensen has since released four additional albums of original material, as well as a compilation of some of his work called “KLJ! Greatest Bits,” and has appeared on History Channel, Spike TV and the Starz network, according to his bio. He also recently released his first book “Punching Nazis: And Other Good Ideas,” which is about “the complicated relationship that punk music has with racist skinheads and what we should do about it.”

Jensen says his particular brand of comedy is what he calls “victimless.” He doesn’t throw anybody under the bus unless he is clearly punching up. That jives with how Jensen perceives his work. He says there has been a raging argument in comedy circles that political correctness is the death of comedy. Jensen is proud to be a comedian in his 40s who isn’t buying into that, adding that new values have always come in and comedy has always adapted.

“The butt of the joke can be yourself or someone in power rather than someone who is disempowered,” Jensen said. “People think they are being cutting edge if they’re like doing gay jokes or jokes at the expense of women, but that’s not cutting edge. That’s stand up 101, that’s the old stuff. It’s tired, it’s stale. Your not cutting edge because you are upsetting someone.”

Similar to music, Jensen says in comedy each generation protests against the changes newer generations make.

“The guys who were told they couldn’t do black face anymore probably felt that way too,” Jensen said. “And they were right, it was time for them to stop and take off their makeup and go away.”

This will be the second time Jensen has recorded a special at the Harris Center. He also recorded his 2018 “Bad Comedy For Bad People” there as well, which hit the No. 1 spot on Amazon’s comedy charts.

“It was everything I wanted it to be, so we decide to go back there again, ” Jensen said.

The show starts at 8 p.m. and will feature special guest Becky Lynn. Tickets cost $18-$32 depending on seating, with premium tickets costing $39.

It’s the last stop for his “Not For Rehire” tour but Jensen is already looking ahead.

He is currently booking theater dates for his next show “What I was Arrested For,” Jensen said, adding he is looking at a preliminary May showing at the Geery Theater.

Both Jensen’s last album “KLJ! Greatest Bits” and this upcoming performance are what he calls “clean” — family friendly material — but he won’t be continuing that trend in the near future.

“I want everyone to know that I’m going to record a really dirty comedy single in the next couple months because I don’t want the dirtbags to feel neglected. I love them too, and I’ll have something for them really soon, if they’ll just be patient,” Jensen said, adding that you can’t leave anybody out and especially not the dirtbags. “There’s nobody that’s been there for me like the dirtbags.”

If you go

Keith Lowell Jensen’s “Not For Rehire”

When: Saturday, Feb. 9

Cost: $18 to $32

Tickets: harriscenter.net