• What: Comedian Craig Shoemaker.
• When: 7:30 p.m. today, Dec. 6.
• Where: The Comedy Catch, 3224 Brainerd Road.
• Admission: $17.
• Phone: 622-2233.
• Website: www.TheComedyCatch.com
Craig Shoemaker is making his first appearance tonight in Chattanooga at The Comedy Catch, but he is likely already familiar to comedy fans, thanks to his many television specials and film roles. His latest 90-minute special, "Daditude," has been playing steadily on Showtime for almost a month.
Or you might know him from the two children's books he's written or for his work with his nonprofit Laughter Heals Foundation. An ordained minister with a doctorate, Shoemaker takes comedy very seriously. He has been a working comic for almost three decades, but his approach to making people laugh changed about 13 years ago when his best friend was diagnosed with brain cancer.
"It changed from being in a selfish place and it's about me and, at first, just trying to meet girls who wouldn't go to the prom with me. Now it's about laughter truly heals people," he says.
The jokes haven't changed so much as the approach and the extra work Shoemaker does offstage. He hasn't abandoned his Lovemaster routine with lines like "One night with me, and you'll be sweatin' like Jessica Simpson taking the SATs" or "I'll love you so good, your neighbor will have a smoke."
In addition to recording specials for Showtime and taking his stand-up routine on the road, Shoemaker owns The Laughter Store, an online place to buy gifts that make people laugh. He also hosts a podcast geared toward raising awareness about the power of laughter.
"We have celebrity interviews, and we talk about things like getting out of your stuckness," he says. "Our promise to the listener is that we will go beyond a comedian entertaining you."
He is also filming a documentary about humor and is working with health-care professionals on "how to bring humor into a very difficult circumstance."
Shoemaker's shows blend political commentary with jokes about family life -- "My dog is part pitbull and part poodle. Not much of a watchdog but a vicious gossip" -- and, of course, lines from The Lovemaster. He claims to have more than 700 lines, most of which are not printable here.
Shoemaker says he was a class clown in school, but it was seeing Bruce Springsteen in concert in 1984 that helped him make a career decision.
"I saw him and knew that's what I wanted to do. I wanted to bring from the heels, tell the truth and leave them exhausted.
"One advantage I have is he can't change the lyrics to his hits. I'm constantly writing new Lovemaster lines."
Contact staff writer Barry Courter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6354.