Comedian Travis Howze (contributed)
A self-proclaimed “funny guy” who was even dubbed the class clown back in his high school days, Travis Howze has never let any of his jobs –– Marine Corps infantryman, Charleston, S.C., police officer and firefighter –– dampen his sense of humor.
In fact, he’s working full-time as a comedian, traveling the circuit for eight years now on his tour “The Funny Under Fire Comedy Tour.”
“I grew up watching comedy, the old-school comedy –– Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy –– and I always liked that,” Howze said. “After high school I just went into the Marine Corps and ... I felt like I needed some discipline and some guidance. I chose the infantry which is the hardest profession in the Marine Corps and did very well in there. I ended up being a squad leader.”
Serving in the Marine Corps for four years, Howze said he left the military in 2000.
“I became a police officer,” he said. “It was ... kind of a natural fit. I came from the infantry side of the Marine Corps, where we dealt with a lot of weapons and tactics. It’s something I always wanted to do.”
Howze said after leaving the police department, he found his niche as a firefighter in Charleston.
“I had a bunch of friends of mine who were firemen ... so I decided to go to the fire department. I was a firefighter for eight years,” he said. “Being a fireman was actually the best fit because ... firefighters sitting around the firehouse joking, playing pranks on each other all day, that was perfect for me.”
When he wasn’t working, Howze said he did stand-up comedy on the side.
“I was always naturally just kind of a goofball,” he said. “It got to a point where I was paid pretty well to travel around the country, so I would end up having to pay some firemen to cover my shifts for me when I would have to go (on) long trips, like to Alaska and out to L.A. and cross country. I never intended on doing comedy full-time. My heart was into firefighting. I loved being a firefighter.”
Howze said in 2007 his unit was called out to a warehouse fire in Charleston. He said nine fellow firefighters, friends of his, were killed battling the fire.
“I was ultimately injured in that fire as well, and so only knowing how to be a comedian, naturally, I went back into comedy full time and I ... kind of focused all of my energy on doing comedy,” he said. “The reason I chose ‘Funny Under Fire’ is because even as a Marine, even as a cop and a firefighter, I was always funny. I was always stern and serious, but I also have a very silly side to me.”
In his show, Howze said he talks on a variety of topics, including a lot of material about family, being married, as well as all the things that happened on the job as a Marine, a cop and a firefighter. He said the show, while not kid-friendly, does not contain material that is over the top rated R.
Howze will be making a stop in Johnson City on his comedy tour Friday and Saturday, with two shows scheduled each night, one at 8 and another at 10 in the Reflections lounge for Comedy Zone at the Holiday Inn, 101 W. Springbrook Drive.
No stranger to Johnson City, Howze said he and some of his Marine friends traveled to the city and even had plans to move to the area before landing a job down south.
“Never saw Johnson City again until I started doing comedy and then just out of the blue ... started popping back into Johnson City every once and a while and I absolutely love coming there,” he said. “We always have a good time. Whether it’s four people or whether it’s 400 in the audience, we have a great time.”
And while it’s all fun and games on the stage, Howze, a resident of Mt. Pleasant, S.C., outside Charleston, said, in part, he performs for friends he’s lost along the way.
“I’m not doing this to get rich. I’m not doing comedy to be somebody super famous. I’m doing it because I enjoy it,” he said. “I do this kind of to honor them (fallen friends) and if something wonderful happens from it, it’ll be because of them. I pay tribute to those guys and any emergency service personnel that are hurt or killed in the line of duty, military folks as well. I feel like a brother in arms with them.”
For more information on Howze and tour information, visit travishowze.com.