You know him. You love him. He’s a Humboldt County comedy scene stalwart and the staff photographer for Savage Henry Magazine, Dutch Savage. If you’re reading this magazine then you’ve seen Dutch perform a jam packed set of twisted one-liners at least once. But he’s a quiet dude offstage so we thought, why not get to know him a little better. I talked to Dutch after the recent Savage Henry Magazine Comedy Festival about the early days of Humboldt comedy, documenting life behind the Redwood Curtain, and his all-time favorite joke.
Isaac Kozell: I just saw you at the 5th Annual Savage Henry Comedy Festival. You’ve been around since the beginning, right?
Dutch Savage: I participated in the very first Savage Henry sanctioned open mic comedy night, early 2011. That was the first time I tried stand-up.
IK: Was there a scene at all in Humboldt back then?
DS: There was nothing. Savage Henry had been out for a year, but as far as live comedy goes it just did not exist. The open mics spawned the live shows, usually with locals opening for out-of-towners, and the festival of course is an extension of that.
IK: How rough were those first few mics? Were there any seasoned comics around or was everyone green?
DS: They were exciting, fun, and definitely on the rough side. No one there had ever tried being a comedian before. I think a lot of people got too drunk. At the first one I had drank so much that after my “set” I tried to order another beer from a guy who was sitting at the bar. It was the only way I could get on stage and try to be funny. I don’t think I was the only one who felt that way.
IK: When did you notice the scene starting to shape up and get more focused? Well, as focused as things can be in Humboldt.
DS: Probably when the first ‘out-of-towner’ was to headline a set after the third installment of the usual open mic night. That was the first time I saw Cornell Reid perform, he was visiting family in Arcata and Chris had reached out to him to close the night with a real comedy performance from a real comedian! This was less than six months after that first open mic. At this point the open mics were not on a very regular basis, but that was soon to change. That was the beginning of the future of Humboldt comedy. More shows with traveling comedians started coming through and it snowballed from there. More locals started showing up on a regular basis, many of which are no longer in the scene. There are waves of new faces every now and then. As long as this keeps up the scene will continue to grow like it has.
IK: Who are some of your favorite comics you’ve been able to perform with?
DS: One of my absolute favorite shows I have done was when I was fortunate enough to open for Tom Rhodes. He is very down to earth, a very nice guy. I fucked up a joke and I still consider this one of my life highlights. I have opened for Billy Wayne Davis several times now, I like him a lot and he is also a super nice guy, that goes really far with me. David Gborie is someone who I have done local and out of town shows with and would be honored to share the stage with him any time. He is very, very funny and very sweet. I have probably done the most shows with my friend Mr. Matt Redbeard. We have travelled all over Hell together doing comedy and it never gets old.
IK: Speaking of hell, what was your worst show?
DS: I hope it was my first one.
IK: You also serve as staff photographer for the magazine. Your shots from the festivals are great and Dutch Savage’s Photo of the Day is one of the most popular things on the Savage Henry Facebook page. How did you get into photography?
DS: Thank you very much. Honestly I don’t really feel like I know what I am doing. I started taking pictures in 2008 after moving to Humboldt. My lady has a film camera that she used in college I think. I took that and started shooting pictures of the area in order to try to convey to my family back home how beautiful Humboldt County is.
IK: But you also capture a grittier side of Humboldt, especially your shots of some of the infamous locals. How would you describe the area in a few short words?
DS: Isolated, beautiful, and sometimes real weird. There is a lot more going on here than the marijuana spectacle as seen on TV.
IK: Let’s wrap up with your favorite joke. It could be one of yours or one you’ve heard.
DS: I like it when Steven Wright says, “Today I got food poisoning. I don’t know when I am going to use it.”
Check out Dutch co-hosting the paranormal podcast Illuminati By Nature or creep on him on Twitter and Instagram @bisonjewlog