September 26, 2013

Maine deputy-turned-comic plays Port City Music Hall

Juston McKinney has an arresting life story.

By Ray Routhier rrouthier@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Juston McKinney grew up with a father who often got in trouble with the police, and ended up homeless.

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Comedian Juston McKinney will perform a show at Port City Music Hall on Saturday.

Courtesy photo

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JUSTON MCKINNEY

WHEN: 9:30 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Port City Music Hall, 504 Congress St., Portland

HOW MUCH: $20 in advance; $25 on the day of the show; $30 for preferred seating

INFO: Statetheatreportland.com

So how did McKinney deal with all that? He made jokes.

"I tell people my father was a great crime fighter, he'd commit a crime and fight with police," said McKinney, 43, a native of Kittery. "He used to brag about having a home with a 400-car garage -- when he was sleeping at a pay toilet at the parking garage."

McKinney has used his personal stories to craft a 15-year comedy career that helped him land two specials on Comedy Central, a starring role in the "Blue Collar Comedy: The Next Generation" tour and film, as well as parts in other films and TV shows.

He'll bring his act to Portland's Port City Music Hall on Saturday, as part of his "Deer, Moose, Ticks and Hicks Tour" of all 16 Maine counties.

McKinney grew up in Kittery and worked for the York County Sheriff's Office as a deputy for seven years before embarking on a comedy career. He spent about eight years living and working in New York and Los Angeles before moving back to New England in 2006. He currently lives in Newmarket, N.H.

For this current tour, McKinney sat down and wrote new material based on his experiences as a deputy sheriff. But his whole act is filled with things that happened to him.

Often they are things that most people would not find funny if they happened to them. Like the fact that McKinney bought his house in Newmarket in August of 2006.

"If you look up the absolute peak of the housing boom, it was August of 2006," said McKinney. "If I flipped my house now I could probably get into a nice Ford Focus."

Of his work as a deputy, McKinney said he originally wanted to be a private investigator while attending Southern Maine Technical College in South Portland, now known as Southern Maine Community College.

"You know your school is good when it gets upgraded to a community college," said McKinney. "Instead of homecoming day, we used to have 'we'll be coming home soon day'."

But seriously, McKinney arranged a job shadow while at SMCC that allowed him to work with police, and that convinced him to try police work as a career. He worked as a police officer until about 1997, when he decided to pursue his dream of being a stand-up comic.

After working comedy clubs in New York he moved to Los Angeles. He's been on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" several times. He appeared on the CBS sitcom "King of Queens" starring Kevin James, who later helped McKinney get roles in two films, "The Zookeeper" and "Here Comes the Boom."

McKinney's also done two Comedy Central cable channel specials. His special "Juston McKinney -- A Middle-Class Hole" is available on DVD.

Even though he worked as a deputy sheriff, McKinney said the work he does now as a comic is what he was truly meant to do. Maybe.

"I remember being in the eighth grade, in the library at school, and telling people I wanted to be a comedian when I grew up," said McKinney. "They all laughed. I thought 'Wow, this is easy."'

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

rrouthier@pressherald.com

 

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