During the daytime, Atlantic City native James Wiener takes his job as a dentist seriously. Once the sun sets, Wiener wants nothing more than to make people laugh as Jimmie Lee — The Jersey Outlaw.
After years of hearing his wife tell him he was funny, Wiener decided to finally give stand-up comedy a try on a dare in March last year. Wiener did decently the first time he tried out his material in public, although he wrote out his jokes and brought papers with him on stage.
"I started doing open mikes, and I caught on, and I just kept going. I'm up to close to 100 shows now in about a year and a half. I'm working really hard with this ... all around the country," said Wiener, who grew up in Longport and later lived in Northfield,.
A graduate of Mainland Regional High School in Linwood, Wiener performs his comedy in Atlantic County for the first time tonight at the Blue Velvet Theater, located next to Scores on the second level of the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort.
"I was reading off sheets. That's how stupid I was, but I got laughs," said Wiener about the first time he did standup. "I said to my wife, 'I like this.' Shortly thereafter, we went to Florida, and I called some comedy clubs in Orlando and played there and came back. I started doing open mikes in Jersey, Philadelphia and New York for about five months, and I started catching on. People like me. I started getting better because I took it seriously like a job."
Wiener, 49, who practiced dentistry from 1985 to 2000 in Linwood, said New Jersey comedian Mike Marino helped him along during the summer of 2013, by giving him some shows to do and coaching him.
"I'm immersed in comedy. I have five shows in the next two weeks, and I'm also going to New York to do a promotional photo shoot in a couple of weeks. I study my shows all weekend. I'm always watching comics for jokes," Wiener said. "It's not like a joke to me."
Wiener, who now lives in Voorhees, Camden County, is influenced by older comics such as Don Rickles and Shecky Greene, Rodney Dangerfield and Redd Foxx.
"I'm funny, and people what me to come back, so I show up early. I'm professional. I ask not to be paid when they want to pay me, and they always ask me to come back, and now, I have a nice group of people that like me," said Wiener, who added that his group of dental practices in the Cherry Hill area, Camden County, earns the money to support his family as well as his comedy career. "When they want to pay me, I say don't pay me, give me stage time. I promise the booker that I will perform and do well, and if I don't, you don't have to have me back, so I try to support the room and bring people."
Wiener practices dentistry on Mondays and Tuesdays, but he assigns himself administrative work on Wednesdays and Thursdays, so he can be out late in comedy clubs. He practices clinically in Audubon, Camden County, and has had at least 30 of his dental patients come to see his stand-up act. Wiener knows which dental patients he can kid with and which ones he cannot.
Kenny Camp runs Devilers Comedy Room in the Centerton Country Club & Event Center in Pittsgrove, Salem County. Camp gave Wiener his first chance at standup.
"He did fairly well for a first timer. After that, he got the bug. I told him, 'I know you are doing a great job Jimmie, but next time, drop the papers,'" Camp said. "I kept working with him every time he came back. I'm a comedian myself. I know what it takes to get up there, but he's a natural. His timing is very good. He's starting to write his own material now."
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If You Go
Jimmie Lee - The Jersey Outlaw is one of five comics scheduled to perform during the Comedy Crap Shoot at 8 tonight in the Blue Velvet Theater at the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, 1000 Boardwalk, Atlantic City. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Admission 21 and older to enter. For advance reservations, call or text 908-670-0012.