There’s an ongoing, shared narrative for a lot of people who live or create in Akron. I’d like to think that I’m special, but I’m not exempt. Many of us left Ohio a long time ago. Some of us were running, some of us vowed we’d never come back and others of us had to leave for reasons we couldn’t control. Yet, sure enough, we’ve found our way to Akron. We’ve found hidden magic in this place, as well as Northeast Ohio, and want to help make this great place even better. Chris Ketler shares this narrative with us.
Chris Ketler, more affectionately known as “The Bitter Dude,” is a comedian originally from Alliance, Ohio with an uplifting story of how he went from divorced and alone to a successful comedian who is bringing affordable, professional comedy shows through Akron.
Ketler’s journey into comedy is young, starting five years ago after his wife of 20 years abandoned him. He found himself alone, depressed and unable to perform his daily responsibilities in work and life.
“I didn’t know if I was going to become a bum roaming the streets or end up dead,” Ketler admits. “I remember wishing I would die.”
Eventually, he was emotionally spent, and during this dark period, he ironically turned to comedy.
“I choose stand up comedy as a method of coping with life situations,” Chris says. “Why? I cannot tell you.”
With everything that has happened to Chris, it makes sense that he’s “bitter.” However, he didn’t get his name from his experiences leading up to comedy. Chris got his name during his first show at Highland Tavern in Highland Square. He was struggling to find what comedians call a “comedic voice” while writing his first 10-minute set. During the show, a woman shouted, “You’re not bitter, are you?” and he knew from that point on that’s exactly who he was.
“I finished my set, I paid my tab and left,” Chris says. “I never took the time to thank that lady, and I wish I had.”
Ketler went on to further develop and learn his craft at the Funny Stop in Cuyahoga Falls.
In five years, he has been able to accomplish a lot. He’s performed in Chicago at Second City and the Laugh Factory. He’s performed in New York at the Broadway Comedy Club. He is featured in the movie “White Boy Rick” with Matthew McConaughey, and much more! He has even started Funny Noizes Production company to “bring nationally touring comedians to the Akron area” and present comedy in a professional way at an affordable price.
Comedy, like any art form, requires you to have a thick skin, resilience and an ability to experience failure, get up and do it again. Ketler says that he has always been resilient. “I’ve failed numerous times at comedy in front of family and friends.” He didn’t let that stop him. He acknowledges that he could have quit many times, but used his failures as opportunities to learn and become better at the craft. Ketler is one of many of us who have moved back and want to contribute to the culture. Ketler wants to bring us “comedy shows similar to what you find in larger cities,” and that’s exciting! It’s great to have enthusiastic contributors here in Akron.
Every month, The Bitter Dude hosts a comedy show at none too fragile theatre. The next show will be October 7 at 8 pm and every show you attend gets you the chance to win free tickets to another.
You can find The Bitter Dude on Facebook at Funny Noizes Productions or The Bitter Dude or on Twitter #The_Bitter_Dude. Or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He loves working with new and up and coming talent!