Columbus Comedy Festival: Bob Cook
As I wrapped up an interview with Bob Cook at his home, his oldest son popped in to ask if we were finished. Cook told him we were almost done, then told me that this is the point in his son's life when Dad is his best friend. He doesn't want to miss a second of that.
Cook is one of the funniest and dirtiest joke tellers I've ever met - imagine a Doug Stanhope/Dave Attell hybrid with a Patton Oswalt-like delivery - but he's a father first and foremost.
It was 12 years ago when Cook first took the stage at the now-defunct Northberg Tavern. He'd become friends with some of the open-mic performers, and after months of prodding and a half-dozen Long Islands, he worked up enough courage to go on stage.
There was no turning back. Cook won a number of competitions at the Northberg, earning a paid gig running its open-mic nights. He also won Columbus' Funniest Comedian honors at the Funny Bone.
As Cook established himself - he's been featured on "Bob & Tom" and Howard TV - he did regular gigs in Little Rock, Tulsa and Oklahoma City.
Sounds like a stand-up comic's dream, but there was one big problem. No matter how much Cook tried to take home on the road, he longed to spend more time with his wife and three kids.
"It's a lonely-man sport. A lot of family people make it work, but it's hard for me. Seeing my kids at the airport after was pretty amazing," Cook said.
After some soul searching, he realized making a room full of strangers laugh their asses off was great but not nearly as important as being a good dad.
Now Cook appears regularly at Grumpy Dave's Pub Professional Comedy Night in Bowling Green and hits up occasional open-mic nights around town.
"You can't really quit. It's very much a part of who you are. There's a notable difference in how I conduct myself if I don't perform for a while. I think that it's therapeutic," Cook said. "It's also so addictive."