Doug Karpf knows Springfield.
Not only is Karpf, who takes the microphone this weekend at Scotty’s, a Springfield resident, but he has spent most of his life in the area and said he feels he can relate to the people for whom he is performing.
Since much of the audience hails from within a 10-mile radius of the club, he said there are a lot of little nuances and specifics he can get into that people might find entertaining.
“Even if it’s speaking about local stores, nightlife or lack thereof,” Karpf, who grew up in Millburn, said, “I think a lot of them are impressed sometimes when I mention real local specifics that comics touring the country from other areas would have no idea about.”
Karpf said he prides himself on being able to perform in front of just about anybody, changing up his act slightly or dramatically based on his audience.
“One night, I can be in front of a 25-year-old crowd in a college, and the next night I might be in a senior center,” he said. “The next night, I might be in a casino in a comedy club.”
For the most part, though, his act is reality-based, with a sprinkling of observational comedy, constructed from his life experiences of raising kids, being married twice, growing up and other things to which the audience can relate.
“I think as you grow older and have more life experiences, the more things you draw upon,” Karpf said. “That enables you to create material that a wider range of people can relate to.”
In addition to his experiences, Karpf attributes the route he chose to move up in the comedy world as helping him play to a wide array of audiences.
Karpf, who has been performing for a little more than a decade, got his start at the Comedy Cellar in Greenwich Village, which led to many amateur nights and bring-your-own-audience shows.
However, Karpf chose to branch out by taking his act to what he described as some of the more difficult comedy spots in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York. Performing in various situations meant that he was getting experience among different audiences, but it also sometimes left him working some tough rooms.
“I sort of cut my teeth, so to speak, in very different situations, whether they were biker bars, restaurants or places where people have zero or less interest in your performance,” he said. “It really thickened my skin. So if I do encounter adversity during a show now, it’s really a piece of cake.”
Karpf likened his trek through the comedy ranks to a minor league baseball player making his way to the majors.
“You’re not just jumping into the majors,” he said. “You’re riding the buses in triple-A, living in sleazy hotels and dealing with the small crowds, and it just makes you stronger. So when you finally get to Yankee Stadium, it’s a very pleasurable experience and much easier for you.”
His experiences have also made him realize that being willing and able to sacrifice can be important in allowing a career in comedy to endure.
As a husband, father and full-time civil service employee, Karpf’s stand-up opportunities, for the most part, are relegated to the weekend. However, he said his experiences and flexibility as a comic have allowed him continuous work.
“Bookers and promoters I’ve worked for know that I’m a guy who can go into very different types of rooms and be successful night in and night out,” he said.
Karpf will perform at 9 p.m. tonight at the Comedy Cove at Scotty's Steak House. Tickets are $13 in advance and $15 at the door. Visit the club's website for more information.