By Jan Mercker
For Lucas Bohn, comedy means pushing buttons and opening up about stuff people just don’t talk about.
From the indignities of infertility treatment to handling rude questions after an interracial adoption, the former Loudoun County elementary school teacher turned professional comedian finds humor in touchy subjects.
Bohn’s popular monthly comedy shows at Ashburn’s Old Ox Brewery, bringing nationally known comedians to Loudoun, are on hold during the COVID shutdown. Right now, like many Loudouners, Bohn is parenting young children during a pandemic and sharing a workspace with his spouse. He’s also missing gig-related travel and the energy exchange with audiences.
“Part of the reason we get into comedy is for the reaction,” he said. “I like the audience’s reaction. I want to know when they like a joke and that’s when you hear laughter. … It’s not the same when you can’t see the looks on people’s faces and you can’t see the guy slap his knee or the girl lean over and grab her husband’s shoulder because you said something that resonated with her.”
Bohn specializes in “clean” comedy, which foregoes the profanity, obscenity and explicit material some comics are known for. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t step on some toes. Bohn’s “Black Friday Baby” clip from his 2017 special on the Dry Bar Comedy site is one of his most popular—and most controversial—bits.
The material was inspired by a rude question Bohn got while visiting his hometown in southern Virginia with his daughter Ella, whom he and his wife Kristie adopted from Kenya.
“That bit has gotten me more flak than I have ever thought that I would get,” he said. “When I wrote the bit, it was more out of absurdity—that people would have the audacity to ask someone these stupid questions.”
Bohn tells the story of running into an acquaintance while at a playground with Ella. The woman asked how the baby would recognize a white couple as her parents, and Bohn responded by belting out a well-known musical call from “The Lion King.” In a similar situation, Bohn recounts telling a security guard at Walmart who asked an inappropriate question about Ella’s origins, “We got her on Black Friday.”
“Very inappropriate question. I gave an inappropriate answer,” he said.
Bohn has also found material in the uncomfortable subject of infertility treatments and has earned laughs and connection from audiences.
“It’s a weird process. … Nobody talks about it. … So, I went on stage and I talked about it,” he said. “What I found out was that people came up afterward—men and women—and they’re like, ‘I just want you to know we’re struggling with fertility. You telling those jokes and talking about it on stage was amazing because we thought we were by ourselves. We thought we were on our own.’”
Bohn, 38, grew up in Mathews County on Virginia’s Middle Peninsula and made the transition from theater in high school to comedy in college.
“I’ve always loved to entertain—whether it’s at the dinner table or on stage,” he said. “I love making people laugh. I love telling stories. It’s always been with me.”
Bohn fell in love with comedy while in college at Coastal Carolina University near Myrtle Beach, SC. When he became a regular at a local comedy club, the club owner suggested he take comedy classes along with his college courses, and Bohn eventually became the house emcee at the club.
“I got a lot of experience very quickly,” he said.
But Bohn stayed on track for a career in education and moved to Northern Virginia to take a job with Loudoun County Public Schools where he worked as a fifth grade teacher for several years. In 2010, he was teaching in Loudoun, doing comedy on the side and engaged to Kristie when the opportunity for a 45-venue college tour came up. Saying yes to the tour would mean an extended leave from his teaching job—and eventually leaving teaching altogether.
“I freaked out. I had a midlife crisis at 28,” he said. “I never thought [comedy] was a sustainable job.”
But Kristie encouraged him to take the leap and follow his dream
“She said, ‘You need to go do this and give it a shot.”
Bohn did the tour and has been a professional comedian for 10 years, performing regularly on college campuses, cruise ships, theaters and other venues. He released his first comedy special in 2017 with Dry Bar and appeared on NBC’s “Bring the Funny” comedy competition show last summer. In 2018, Bohn launched a comedy events and distribution company, Bojo Entertainment, with his brother-in-law, Steven Jones. Through Bojo, Bohn brings national touring comedians to Old Ox and records and distributes comedy shows to satellite radio stations and online platforms.
“I know comedy. I know what makes a good track. I know where the punchline is. I know how to edit it. By doing that and putting good products out, we’ve been able to sustain ourselves in this crazy economy,” Bohn said.
Bohn is also an active performer in his own right, hosting the Ashburn shows and touring regularly.
Ella is now 5 and in kindergarten, and Bohn and Kristie adopted her younger brother Alexander in 2018. Alexander, who’s also African American, was adopted domestically in New York during the family’s three-year stint in Brooklyn. They returned to Northern Virginia last year, and Bohn approached Old Ox co-owner Graham Burns about a monthly comedy night in Ashburn. For the past year, Bohn has been hosting national touring comics like Comedy Central alum Louis Ramey and “Tonight Show” guest Brett Leake at sell-out shows at the brewery.
Bohn and his family live in Reston but are planning a move to Lovettsville this summer. For now, Bohn is writing and running Bojo while homeschooling a kindergartener with a toddler in tow.
“I was a teacher. I became a comedian and because of the pandemic, I’m a teacher again,” he said. “I’m right back into my old shoes.”
He and Burns are waiting for news from the state government before returning to live shows, but Bohn says the first show would be a benefit for brewery employees who have lost wages during the COVID crisis.
Meanwhile, there’s definitely plenty of comic fodder in two months self-isolation with family.
“My new joke is, ‘I’ve learned one thing over the pandemic and that is family is everything. Just not for me. You can have them,’” Bohn said. “I think every single person that’s been through these eight weeks is like, ‘I’ve got it. I’ve got how you can love somebody and still be like, I’m done.’”
To learn more about Lucas Bohn and check out clips from his 2017 special, go to facebook.com/comiclucasbohn.