Comedian Sam Adams Is Still Twerking, Despite Butterflies in His Stomach

Comedian Sam Adams performing a set for Denver Urban Spectrum's Comedy Explosion in 2017 at Comedy Works South
Comedian Sam Adams performing a set for Denver Urban Spectrum's Comedy Explosion in 2017 at Comedy Works South Khaleel Hayes
Before becoming a full-time comedian in 2009, Sam Adams was a sportswriter for the Denver Post and the now-shuttered Rocky Mountain News for thirty years. Often, when he interviewed the Denver Broncos, they spoke about how nervousness came with the job.

“When I did cover the team, I had players tell me that they expected a nervous feeling just before kickoff,” Adams says. “They said those feelings would leave once the game started. Well, it’s the same with me performing comedy. Doesn’t matter if it’s headlining for hundreds of people at Comedy Works or doing a set in front of thousands at Red Rocks before one of the Film on the Rocks shows.

“If I don’t feel those butterflies, I think something’s wrong,” he adds. “It usually goes away once I grab the mic and I hear that first good laugh from the crowd.”

Although Adams still feels butterflies in his stomach before performing, he knows it’s just part of the comedic process, and he enjoys every minute of it — especially the roar of laughter. “That laughter lets me know I’ve done my job,” he says.

For obvious reasons, Adams did his share of gigs on Zoom in 2020.

“I’m really not a ‘club’ comedian,” he explains. “Companies book me, and the audiences, usually employees and executives or convention attendees, are in place. No ticket sales involved. My Zoom shows fall in line with my live performances. Most people were looking for clean comedians, no profanity. That’s how I perform in person, so it’s not an issue."

Although Adams could carry out his comedic stylings, performing virtually had its limitations. For example, he couldn’t hear people laugh.

“Most virtual shows are done with the viewer turning off his or her microphone to avoid any unexpected background noise that might interfere with the performance,” he says. “So you don’t hear laughter — or groans, or boos, for that matter. And you’re looking directly into the camera, so you don’t always see faces, if they’re smiling or not.”

Happily, Adams will perform live for a sold-out audience on April 30 at the Soiled Dove Underground, at 7401 East First Avenue. This will be one of his first live Denver performances since the pandemic started. But in the past few months, he’s performed in person in Arkansas, Florida and Georgia.

”I performed in Harrison, Arkansas, in mid-November,” he recalls. “It’s the town that booked me immediately after my ‘True Color’ video clip on Dry Bar Comedy went viral in 2018. Google Harrison, and you’ll see the town’s been labeled 'the most racist city in America.' I’ve performed there three straight years now. All three times, I received standing ovations, and I left town unharmed all three times.

“The Georgia audience, in March, followed COVID protocol, too,” he continues. “It was weird, though, seeing the people in Arkansas and Georgia audiences wearing their masks. I need to see faces and smiles.”
click to enlarge Comedian Sam Adams performing a set for Denver Urban Spectrum's Comedy Explosion, in 2017, at Comedy Works South. - KHALEEL HAYES
Comedian Sam Adams performing a set for Denver Urban Spectrum's Comedy Explosion, in 2017, at Comedy Works South.
Khaleel Hayes
Dave Chappelle, Sinbad, Kevin Hart and Chris Rock are some of Adams’s comedic influences. He’s even opened for some of the newer comics at Comedy Works, including Saturday Night Live alums Leslie Jones and Jay Pharoah.

"Jay’s impressions are awesome, and the way he folds them into his sets makes his standup act great to watch," Adams notes. "[Leslie Jones is] just funny as hell. If there’s a category for ‘dangerous’ standup, she’s got it nailed down. She almost scares you into laughing with her faces and physical style. I love it."

One of Adams’s popular bits is the Vegas Nightclub Twerk.

“At age 61, me twerking sounds better than me actually making the physical attempt,” he explains. “The older I get, the more it hurts to do. But audiences love it, so I’ll keep doing it. Plus, I love describing twerking as 'gluteus turbulence.'”

For more about Sam Adams and his upcoming shows, visit his website.
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Khaleel Hayes is a writer and journalist who graduated from MSU Denver in 2018. His body of work includes profiles, film reviews, poetry, short plays and photography.
Contact: Khaleel Hayes