A funny bone

Funny man Jeff Turner and The Comedy Clinic.



JEFF TURNER

Comedic inspirations: Wayne Brady, Ryan Stiles, Colin Mockery

Favorite one-liner:
“Hmm, intriguing. Provocative.”

Jeff Turner likes being a dad.

He enjoys spending time with his two young sons whether they are watching TV blooper shows, playing catch, shooting hoops or he is emceeing for their elementary school’s functions, also the school he attended as a child.

But what makes Turner more than your average father is his involvement with his local improvisation troupe, The Comedy Clinic.

“It’s always fun for them to tell their friends that I am a comedian, which results in all their friends coming up to me and saying, ‘Hey, Mr. Turner, I’ve got a joke for you,’” he says.

Turner says he got his start in improvisation at Edison High School with close friends Ben Beckham, Antoine Wilson and Tyler Bunch. Together, they created their own silly movies that made fun of James Bond, “kiddie TV shows” and other movies for their friends’ amusement, including his high school sweetheart and now wife, Kerry.

“My wife is to the point where she shakes her head or rolls her eyes most of the time, but the great thing is, we crack each other up because she is really funny and just plain fun to be around,” Turner says. “In high school, she was so quiet and unassuming and did not want any attention to go her way, and here I was, this loud, boisterous guy who wanted all the attention.”

When Turner attended Oklahoma State University as an advertising major, he met a college friend who performed with Heller Theatre’s Adult Laughing Matter improvisation comedy troupe.

After Turner graduated from OSU, he performed with a local improvisation troupe for two shows in 2002. His first time to perform in more than 12 years, he discovered that not every line in an improvisation skit has to be funny.  

“Sometimes the biggest laughs are when something doesn’t work, and it takes the team of players knowing how to bounce off of one another and turn a bad thing into something good,” he says.

That same year, Turner continued doing shows with Beckham, an information technology manager for a petro-chemical engineering company. Soon Maria Swindell Gus, executive director of the Bartlesville Convention & Visitors Bureau, joined The Comedy Clinic as its third member and female lead.

“They are two of my best friends in the whole world and we truly like one another,” Turner says. “We don’t take ourselves too seriously as artists and comedians because we recognize we’re doing a rookie league tour around here.”

While Turner spends his days preparing presentations about ornamental fencing for homebuilders, developers and architects, he spends several evenings each week preparing for shows with Beckham and Gus.

Most of the time, the trio perform at Jewel, located on Brookside, where Turner says it’s easy for their audience to grab a bite to eat before heading to their show. He also says he personally loves Brookside, which is why he likes to perform in the heart of midtown Tulsa.

“Everything I’ve done seems to come from this area of town,” he says about growing up in Tulsa.

During their hour-and-a-half performance, with a 10-minute intermission, Turner says the troupe members design shows around improvisation games and audience participation. For example, the troupe may combine an episode of “Jerry Springer” with a movie such as “Cinderella,” creating a scene with an enraged woman with her shoe off on stage with her “prince” and her evil stepmother and stepsisters.

Although Turner says he and his fellow troupe members enjoy making one another and their audience laugh, their lives are with their family and they are satisfied.

“We have no plans to try to ‘make it,’ but that would always be great,” he says. ”We get our fix making them laugh here.”

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November 2017

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