Russ Nagel is a biker, husband, father, grandfather, brother, and an all-around nice guy. While every comic out there has a “hook” that makes them unique, Russ’s hook merely is who and what he really is, an American Biker who just happens to be hilarious. Sit and watch the man on stage for 10 minutes, and you will barely have a chance to breathe from laughing so hard. Unlike some comics who poke fun at the world around them, Russ uses his own life experiences and perceptions to create his routines. No one else could pull off his comedy simply because there is only one America’s Funniest Biker.
The Making of America’s Funniest Biker
When asked how and why he became a comic, he quickly responded, “I was the sixth caller.” His friend won tickets from a radio station to go see 3 comedians at a local venue in his home town of Bossier City, Louisiana. One of those comics was Jeff Foxworthy. This was back in 1986 before Foxworthy, Ron White, and Larry the Cable Guy were well-known. That night changed Russ’s life.
“I started going back every week, literally every Wednesday or Thursday cause I enjoyed laughing. Then I got to know the staff. They would let me in for free. I tipped good, so I got free drinks. I would stand in different parts of the room and watch the comics and how they worked.” he said. Within a few months, he made his way on stage. Things went well, and he started doing stand-up full time.
Russ didn’t start out as America’s Funniest Biker, far from it. Thirty years ago when he first took the stage, he dressed like everyone else. It wasn’t until a few years ago that he was backstage at a friend’s show and was asked to go on stage for a few minutes. He tried to decline because he was dressed in his biker gear, but his friend told him to go anyway. The look was a complete success and Russ knew right away he found the hook he needed to set himself apart from everyone else.
The Life of a Road Comic
The life of a road comic is made up of long periods away from home, living out of hotel rooms, thousands of miles of travel each year, and in Russ’s case, many a night spent on cruise ships. As one of the headlining acts for Carnival Cruise Lines, he spends almost 30 weeks a year aboard ship. He said, “I used to average almost 60,000 miles a year on the road.” Now, his wife Wendylee, chuckles and says, “I don’t feel sorry for him at all being on a cruise ship.” While some people enjoy going on cruises, practically living on one can make them a little boring.
While the goal of most comics is to get a sitcom or movie, Russ said, “I just wanted to be a road comic.” For 14 years, Russ “lived like a rockstar” on the road and having a good time. Then fate stepped in and put him in the right place at the right time. In November of 2001, he was working a comedy club in Las Vegas. The first night he walked in one of the servers caught his eye. All he could think was, “Wow! She’s way outta my league.” That server happened to be his wife of 16 years, Wendylee. They started dating the following January and married a year later. The rest is comedy history. The pair take on life together, albeit from a distance at times, and still find a way to smile and keep their bonds as strong as ever.
Beauty and the Beast plus One
One thing you will quickly learn. For as funny as Russ is on his own, it’s his wife Wendylee that adds the spark to Russ’s life. If Russ is the beast, then Wendylee is his beauty. They match each other wit for wit and sometimes you wonder if it’s Wendy that should be the one on stage. Her wit is as quick as her smile is contagious. Russ gives Wendylee a lot of credit when it comes to being both his inspiration and his muse. When asked where she comes up with some of her ideas, she laughed out loud and said, “Have you seen my husband?” Enough said.
The beautiful blonde that is Russ’s better half has a sense of humor that keeps her going while he is on the road. Throw in the couple’s 15-year old son Terran and you have a formidable comedy trio. Russ and Wendylee have six kids and 10 grandchildren, but Terran is one who stands out to be the next comic in the family. He’s even appeared on stage with his dad a few times. For being a young man, Terran is already taking steps to mold his future. He is a successful model and actor. He also knows the importance of family. When asked about how he felt about his dad being gone so much, he responded, “When he’s not here I get to be the man of the house.”
The Comedy Zone and Dry Bar Comedy
Russ has had the pleasure of playing at places like the Atlantis Hotel and Casino on Paradise Island, The Majestic Theater in Dallas, and most recently at the Comedy Zone in Jacksonville, Florida. Although he picks on the owner and staff members at the Comedy Zone/Ramada, they all have a good time and enjoy joking around. On stage with Russ at the Comedy Zone on March 14th were Ron Barnett and Brian Thomas. Both Ron and Brian were hilarious and deserved a round of applause!
In addition to his other travel dates, Russ is a regular on many of the Carnival Cruises as well.
While many people have seen Russ on the Dry Bar comedy clips that float around Facebook, seeing him in person is so much better. You can learn more about Russ and find out his upcoming schedule at http:// https://www.americasfunniestbiker.com/
The Comedy Zone/Ramada Inn is at 3130 Hartley Road in Jacksonville. The phone number is 904-292-4242.