FERGUS FALLS, Minn. — Chad Daniels will record his next comedy album, his seventh, in March, but if you want an early peak, check out his shows in downtown Fargo this Thursday night, Feb. 4.
The stand-up comic is returning to Sanctuary Events Center for two shows. The early set, at 7 p.m., is sold out, while tickets for the 10 p.m. show are still available.
Getting back in front of crowds has been a long time coming for Daniels. Eleven months ago he was in Tacoma, Wash., preparing for a weekend run of dates when the state shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He returned home to Fergus Falls and has only done a couple of dates since.
“I’ve loved comedy since I was 6. You spend 22 years building an audience and then they make it illegal. That’s a kick in the face,” he says from his home.
Daniels says that more matter of fact than out of anger. He knows the best thing to do is play it safe and stay at home and wear a mask when he goes out.
He also plays it safe with coronavirus in his comedy.
“I mention it. It’s the elephant in the room,” he says. “There’s such a political divide now. You tell a joke like that and the whole room doesn’t want to tip its hand as to their views so you get no response.”
He avoids topics that may be political on the stage, but on his personal platforms, he’s more open to sharing his opinions.
On Jan. 6, the day insurrectionists stormed the Capitol in Washington, D.C., Daniels tweeted: “All this because a father never told his son he was enough. Make sure you do that tonight, Fellas.”
All this because a father never told his son he was enough. Make sure you do that tonight, Fellas.— chaddaniels (@thatchaddaniels) January 7, 2021
Three days later, he wrote, “There are so many people that are going to jail from Wednesday’s (crap) because they thought one term trump would take care of them. He won’t. And they’ll still love him.”
And those are just the ones that he chose to keep up weeks later. There were others he posted and then later removed.
“I don’t feel bad if people get their feelings hurt (from a podcast). They didn’t buy a ticket. They don’t have to listen. I don’t shy away from politics, but I don’t shove it down people’s throats,” he says.
The podcast has been a needed outlet for the comic during coronavirus lockdowns.
“You say, scratch the itch. The truth is it feeds the ego. That’s what you get if you choose a career to get up in front of strangers,” he says.
While nearly a year off the road and staying home with his kids may be fodder for some comics, Daniels says he hasn’t written much.
“Not a lot happens in my house that’s funny,” he says. “The worst thing that happened to my career was my son moving out.”
Still, he’s not complaining about being homebound — something that shouldn't come as a surprise from someone who titled his last comedy release "Dad Chaniels."
“It’s not as bad as I’d thought it would be,” he says. “I really fell in love with being home. I’ve been enjoying normal life.”
The highlight has been spending more time with his 21-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter, including a rare summer at the lake. And then there’s the newest member of the family, a puppy.
“Man, I forgot about puppies. I got a puppy in May and this puppy energy for a 45-year-old does not mix,” he says.
Still, he’s looking forward to getting in front of a live audience again. He did a couple of shows in Cleveland in the fall and says the energy was great.
“We were all just happy to be out,” he says.
He remembers an incident during one show when he missed a line that would transition from one story to another and was trying to work it out. The audience picked up that he was searching.
“I broke down that fourth wall and we kind of workshopped the joke,” he says. “I thought at the time, ‘How unprofessional,’ but I got so many messages from people and they liked the process, seeing behind the scenes of a joke.”
He’s been selective with dates, and after his shows at Sanctuary in Fargo this week, he won’t perform again for another month. He says he hopes the pandemic gets a little more under control by April when he starts heading out more regularly.
He's been in contact with clubs, like Sanctuary, to be assured they are taking full precautions with the safety of him and the audience with issues like social distancing and masking when needed.
That may mean smaller crowds for now, but it also means trying to get back to full houses eventually.
“Right now it’s not about getting rich,” he says. “It’s about getting back to being able to do these things.”