Doug Hecox: Professor by day, comedian by night
Students might know Doug Hecox as one of the School of Communication’s wittiest adjunct professors, but few are aware Hecox’s other job employs his wit on comedy club stages across the country.
This summer, Hecox will record his second comedy album during a week-long gig at the Denver Improv in Colorado.
Hecox is no stranger to the Mile-High City. He lived in Denver after graduating from University of Wyoming, hoping to start telling jokes in comedy clubs.
Denver’s Comedy Works was number one on Hecox’s list of comedy venues to perform in.
“I was knocking my head against the wall trying to get them to let me perform there,” Hecox said. “Week after week, month after month I heard no I heard no and I heard no and then I ended up getting a job out here and I thought, ‘Well, that ends that.’”
In 2008, after nearly two decades, Hecox was finally invited to perform at Comedy Works in Denver.
“I got a nice photo on my wall of me performing at that club, and nobody really understands why it is so meaningful,” Hecox says, “But it is because I finally wore them down.”
While waiting for his chance to perform at Comedy Works, Hecox found himself in the District.
Hecox came to D.C. to in 1992, where he worked on Capital Hill for a representative in the House of Representatives and later worked in the White House before becoming a professor in SOC.
Comedy continued to be his passion, and Hecox performed on stages around the District.
“All along the way, in the back of my mind, was this little annoying unfinished business,” Hecox said
D.C.‘s position at the center of U.S. politics means comedians play to audiences that are well-informed and entertainers have the freedom to bring smarter content.
“Its the only place I have ever seen where bars have C-SPAN playing over the bar,” Hecox said. “It’s a smart town. When you have a smart audience like that, it’s easy to be a smart entertainer.”
Hecox’s first comedy album, “Vote for Me” illustrates D.C.’s influence in the AU professor’s stand-up routine.
“We have all these idiots out there running around for president and none of them have the right ideas, so I’ll throw my hat out there,” Hecox said. “And I have all of these great campaign ideas.”
As president, Hecox said, he would only accept dwarfs into the army.
“For two reasons: one, I support military downsizing and two, all wars would be shorter,” he said.
From comedy to teaching
Hecox has taught in SOC for 13 years, using his experience as a spokesperson for the Federal Highway Administration to teach journalism wiritng in his Writing for Mass Communication course.
The writing skills Hecox teaches to his students at AU are not unrelated to comedy, he said, because careful word choice is an important part of joke writing. Good comedic writing combines the skills of an efficient wordsmith and an economy of phrasing, he said.
“You’ve got to constantly refine and whittle away the non-essential parts of a joke to make it as fast and as pure and as effective as possible,” Hecox said. “So it’s a constant writing challenge. Just like journalism, just like public relations, just like speech writing.”
Hecox says AU has enriched his comedy in many ways. He edited his first comedy album in AU’s Bender Library, and the cover art for the album was a photo taken by a student.
His next comedy album will be available in the Fall through iTunes, Amazon and his website, Dougfun.com.
Follow Doug Hecox at @Dougfun on Twitter to get daily jokes, updates on the album and information about future performances in the D.C. area.