A comedian’s natural habitat is a dark room, preferably one filled with an audience financially complicit in the ribbing about to take place.
Matt Kazam has filled those rooms for 25 years, but for the last seven-and-a-half, he’s brought his act into a sunny arena where just overenthusiastic clapping is trouble.
Kazam is a golf course comedian, the only one I’ve ever heard of.
He will perform at the Brian Orakpo Leukemia Golf Classic benefiting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society on Monday, April 28.
“No other comedian would even be crazy enough to attempt it, because it’s kind of like close up comedy,” Kazam said.
“There is a little science to it, too, because they’re fundraisers, and somebody has to ask for the funds. Why not let it be the funny comedian that they liked instead of just the weatherman on the local TV station that shows up at the end of the day? You’ve got to find a way to make these things special and unique.”
Kazam likens his role to a wedding disc jockey, a guy who “holds the whole thing together.”
The gig includes a set in the clubhouse, emceeing events and raffles and a station at the “funniest hole of the day.” Kazam will set up at at par-3, entertain the groups of golfers that play through and hit a few balls himself. Kazam has read his audience, distinguishing the Judge Smails types from the Al Czerviks.
“The older guys look at golf as it’s golf, and it’s shhhh and it has to be all this,” Kazam said.
“But the newer guys just see it as entertainment and fun. Golf’s not about just being good at it and lowering your score. It’s that if you do something for five hours, it better be fun, especially for the tournaments.”
Golfing with his friends convinced Kazam the course could be a place for comedy.
“I was going to play in all these tournaments, and realized I’m always the funniest guy in the foursome,” he said. “How can I be the funniest guy at the tournament?”
Watching the fans interact with golfers at 16th hole of the Waste Management Phoenix Open – a par-3 with 15,000-seat grandstand surrounding the tees - encouraged Kazam the atmosphere of the game was shifting in his favor.
Kazam said he’s expecting to work 75 golf tournaments this year, but Orakpo’s tournament will be special for the Redskins fan.
The comic is a native New Yorker, but he became a Redskins fan shortly after his family moved to Virginia and he matriculated at Marshall High School in Falls Church, Va., as a 10th-grader.
Three Super Bowl championships helped bring Kazam into the fold, but he said meeting players in the area sold him on the team.
“I was working at Heck’s at Tyson’s Corner when I was in 11th grade,” Kazam said. “Joe Theismann came in and bought a TV from me one night. When you see these guys in the community, it makes them so much more than a team. In New York City, I just had a team to root for, but here I felt like they were part of the community.”-REDSKINS-
ABOUT THE REDSKINS: Headquartered at Redskins Park in Ashburn, Virginia, and owned by Daniel Snyder, the historic Washington Redskins Football Club has won five World Championship titles including the 1937 and 1942 National Football League Championship games, as well as Super Bowls XVII, XXII and XXVI. Founded in 1932 as the Boston Braves in Massachusetts, the team changed its name to the Redskins in 1933 and relocated to Washington, D.C., in 1937. Since then, the team has become one of the most recognizable professional sports franchises in history, featuring multiple Hall of Fame coaches, 19 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame (with seven others who also were Redskins) and becoming the first team in the NFL with an official marching band and fight song, "Hail to the Redskins." The Redskins have been owned by Dan Snydersince 1999, and beginning in 1997, began playing their home games at FedExField in Landover, Md.