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Currently on Hiatus

About a year ago I moved to Southern California. I always expected to live here one day. Back when I began my stand-up comedy adventure, I thought that’d be because of some big career break, like to work on my new TV show. But sadly….

Twenty-five years of working the road has taken it’s toll. Turns out a guy can only take so much rejection. But instead of throwing in the towel, I decided to embark on something new. So here I am, these many years later, living in Long Beach instead of Hollywood. And instead of working at a studio lot, I got a mundane job in the real world.

My new goal is to pursue my creative efforts in my free time in this land where dreams can come true (within driving distance anyway, rent in Hollywood is beyond my means). I haven’t done much stand-up yet, but I am hard at work on a writing project. It’s a work of fiction. A novel. I’d like to think of it as literature. It’s about a bitter aging homeless comic who’s about ready to snap. The main character is loosely based on myself and the story is drawn from my many years of lonely painful doggedly determined existence.

I do plan to return to the comedy stage. I’m working on retooling the act with an eye towards making it more commercially viable. I just booked my first headline gig in over a year. It’s next month at a VFW in a small town a few hours from here. Perfect venue for my style of comedy which is, as the title of my comedy special from Stand Up! Records suggests, Belongs in a Bar. That show promises to be a sell-out. Hope it’s the beginning of something new.

Sometimes when you get knocked down, I think it’s best to just stay on the ground.                

Official Trailer for the New Comedy Special from Stand Up! Records: Dwight York Belongs in a Bar

Me, Willie Nelson, Kid Rock, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Ratt & Weird Al

OK, OK, OK. I may not be sharing the very same stage but I shall be performing at the same venue before and after each and everyone of these big concerts. Pretty cool, right?! AND this I can brag about: My name does appear on the same poster promoting the event.

This August will be my 8th big year of slinging jokes at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip; August 5-13. The Buffalo Chip Campground is the big concert venue at Sturgis. This summer is the 30th Anniversary of the Best Party Anywhere.  That’s 9 big nights of concerts.

In addition to the main-stage, the Chip has 4 smaller outdoor stages and an indoor comedy club. I’ll be there all week! Two big shows, all 9 nights, 6 PM & Midnight.

Maybe you’re wondering, “Stand-up comedy at a motor cycle rally, after major league concerts? That must be a tough gig?” I say, “It is! That’s what makes it fun.” In the words of the Buffalo Chip’s owner, Woody,  “Ride free, take risks.”

You can read about my first two year of taking risks at the Buffalo Chip in a Kindle Short I self-published: Buffalo Chip Comedian at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Excerpts here: Courageous or Crazy.

Make your reservations now. Take risks whenever you can!

Laughlin Laugh Fest: 2nd Place Big Win

October 3-5 in Laughlin, Nevada, I was proud to be part of the Laughlin Laugh Fest. The festival brought together something like fifty comics from all over the country. I was entered in the headliner contest — twenty comics competed for $10,000 in prize money. There were three rounds in the contest, ten comics moved on to the semi-finals, five comics competed in the final round, top three comics earned money.  All three rounds were hosted by Felipe Esparza (winner of NBC’s Last Comic Standing, 2010). Dale Jones won first place, I took 2nd prize, Julia Scotti finished third.

There are two reasons I am so very proud of my 2nd place win. Most importantly, the panel of five judges were esteemed comedy industry professionals, all of whom I greatly respect and whose opinions I greatly value. I’ve been at this crazy comedy game for more than 25 years. It’s nice to know that some comedy VIPs think my unique style of joke slinging is a good (funny) thing. Judging all three rounds were: Michelle Scarbrough, agent at ICM Partners; Randi Siegel of Ranid Siegel Entertainment; Joel Pace booking agent at Comedy Zone Worldwide; and comedians Randy Lubas and Richy Leis. The other reason I am so proud of my finish is the guy that came in 1st place is (in my opinion) the funniest guy out there — and I mean fantastically funny and way “out there.” Different is GOOD! Jones received a partial standing ovation in the final round. I posted to my Facebook page the pic below, “Congrats to Dale Jones for winning the Laughlin Laugh Fest. And thanks for making finishing 2nd my biggest win!”

BOTTOM LINE: I rate the Laughlin Laugh Fest five stars. I laughed. I learned. I fretted. I celebrated. I had a blast. Great thanks to all my lucky stars!

Hate to Brag but… Colin Quinn!

Validation From One of My Comedy Idols

During an interview this morning on the John Hines Show (WCCO; Twin Cities) Colin Quinn said, “My favorite underrated comedian of all time is from Minnesota, Dwight York.” You can listen to the interview on the John Hines Show Audio on Demand page. Mr Quinn mentions my name starting at about the 8:45 mark.

You can read the story about how I met Colin Quinn, from an earlier post, Me, My Book and Colin Quinn.

You can see Colin Quinn Unconstitutional on Monday, April 7, at the Guthrie Theater, in Minneapolis. You can read an interview with Colin Quinn, and find out more about his show, and how he feels about other Minnesotans, at the Star Tribune.

You can see me at a comedy club somewhere, sometime…. Just as soon as I get back down to earth. I am rushing to publish this post, while the story is new. I was hoping to think of a clever and funny way to thank one of my comedy idols, in a public forum…. But I guess, I’ll go with simple sincerity. Thanks Colin. Means a lot.

Armed Forces Entertainment Tour Alaska

I just returned from an Armed Forces Entertainment Comedy Tour of military installations in Alaska. The tour included myself and two other “Blue Collar” themed comics. We had shows at Eielson Air Force Base, Fort Wainwright Army Base, and Clear Air Force Station. Thanks to Frank from AFE and SPECIAL THANKS to our tour producer, Keith, who made it all possible.

It was a honor and privilege to be a member of this tour AND what great timing — on-and-around Veteran’s Day. Being able to thank so many active duty soldiers and airman for their service was an honor and privilege I shall forever cherish. The humbling experience of having so many who serve our country thank us, is one I shall never forget.

Vice Commander, 354th Fighter Wing, Colonel Jay Aanrud was a gracious host and provided us with one of the many highlights of our trip.

How to Write a Joke


Most good jokes are tiny stories with surprise endings and adverse consequence. They contain two parts; the set-up and the punch-line. The set-up takes your mind down a path of predictable outcome. The punch-line changes the outcome to something unexpected, while at the same time detrimental. In other words, a little trick was played on your mind, revealing that someone got hurt.

I wrote the above paragraph for the introduction to my first joke book, The Vile File – Jokes Too Sick for the Stage (1999; Trailer House Press). Then I went on to explain the importance of adverse consequence, and why many – especially the comedy jaded – are especially fond of dark comedy. I put it this way, “There is a child-like mischievous delight in thinking that something is so wrong to laugh at – I can’t believe I thought or heard or said it – that strikes hard at the funny bone.”

Because I’m a one-liner comic with some decent bits in my act, I sometimes get asked for advice on writing one-liners. Besides the obvious goal of “brevity being the soul of wit” and the essential formula of surprise plus consequence, my advice is simple. Consume as much comedy as you can. If you have talent, the fundamentals will be absorbed.

I have read several “how to” books on comedy writing, but learned little from them. Mostly they reinforced what I instinctively knew. I’m guessing, I am not alone. The way I figured out how to write jokes was by studying comedy. And by “studying,” I mean enjoying those who best create and perform it.

Keith Richards is one of the most influential guitar players in the history of rock ‘n’ roll. In his terrific autobiography, Life (which I wrote about in a post), Richards credits his song writing success to his love of Chicago Blues and spent a lifetime listening to the recording artists he admired. Stephen King, in his terrific book On Writing says, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot (emphasis mine) and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.” I have to believe that the same rule applies to joke writing. 

As I began my joke writing journey, my three biggest influences were Rodney Dangerfield, Steven Wright and Emo Phillips. If it’s great jokes you want to write, I suggest you study these masters. I highly recommend: Rodney Dangerfield’s autobiography (which is filled with jokes), Not Easy Being Me: A Lifetime of No Respect but Lots of Drugs and Sex, and his classic album, No Respect; Steven Wright’s classic CD/DVD I Have a Pony; and anything and everything by my personal hero, Emo Phillips (he also has a terrific recipe for cole slaw, which I also recommend).

I also humbly suggest you read my new joke book, More From the Vile File (published by Stand Up! Books). Certainly, there are lots of joke books on the market, but I’d like to believe mine is special. The typical joke book is a collection of old street jokes, the “author” collected and edited, but didn’t write. No doubt, most of these joke books contain some funny stuff, but inevitably they contain a whole lot of filler (terrible) jokes too. Plus most of the jokes, good and bad, tend to be ridiculously long and horribly contrived. “A hooker and a Martian walk into a bar….” I’ll admit that my book contains some “filler” too, but at least you didn’t waste much time in reading one of my groaners.

There are a few good joke books which are collections of the “best of” comedy bits and one-liners from stand-up comedians. I suggest you read those too. I contributed to one such publication, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Jokes (Alpha Books; 2006; edited by Larry Getlen). But to get into the mind of the comedy writer, I believe it’s essential to immerse yourself in a singular “comedy voice.”

Why is one voice so important? I propose a test to my theory. Remember back to when you first heard Mitch Hedberg perform comedy? Did you not find yourself thinking of Mitch Hedberg-esque jokes the rest of the day… or week… or your entire open mic comedy career? If you can’t answer this question, and aren’t familiar with the brilliant comedy of the late great Mitch Hedberg, add him to my “highly recommend list” and buy Strategic Grill Locations first.

My best joke writing burst of creativity occurred 20 years ago, on my drive home from a Steven Wright concert. Fully formed one-liners spilled out of my head, including one of my career best bits, which I opened with the first time I did The Bob and Tom Show. That joke helped make that appearance a big success, and was included on Bob and Tom Show CD You Guys Rock.  “I had job once selling security alarms door-to-door. I was really good at it. If there was nobody home I’d leave a brochure on the kitchen table.” I wrote that entirely thanks to the inspiration of Steven Wright. My subconscious was trying to channel his genius. It remains one of my goals to this day.

Twenty-five years in the writing, my new book is more than a sequel, it’s also a compilation of the best jokes from my first book, and the best bits from my live comedy CD. Chapter One contains 150 jokes and is titled, Best of The Vile File – Jokes Too Sick for the Stage. Chapter Two contains 75 “tried and true” jokes and is titled, Best Sick Jokes from Quickies. Chapter Three contains 275 jokes.

For a limited time, and for this promotion campaign, I am offering it as an e-book from Kindle for the low price of $2.99. It is also priced inexpensively from Google Play, $3.84. Speaking of Google Play, I’d like to think my little joke book would be a nifty thing to have on your smart phone. You know, like when you’re bored while waiting at a bus stop or for an open stage to begin. You have an app for that!

Why am I targeting my book to comedy writers and aspiring comedy writers? The obvious reason is that I hope to sell a few books, which should (hopefully) get me some (positive) reviews, which would in theory, boost my Amazon/Kindle/NOOK/iBook/Google book’s rankings, which should further help generate sales. Naturally, I would like to profit from my work, but honestly, at this stage of my career, it isn’t all about the money. I don’t know how much longer I can stay alive in this crazy business (especially with my unique style of doing only one-liners) and have begun to think about my legacy. It is my great hope that when all is said and done, I might contribute a little something to the art of comedy which I have spent a lifetime pursuing. Of course, I realize that it’s unlikely you will read my book, cover to cover, in one sitting, laughing until your belly hurts, like you might hope to do at a comedy club. But I would like to believe that some of the jokes in More From The Vile File – and the style in which I write and perform them – will stand the test of time.

More From The Vile File: 500 Sick Jokes is available in paperback from my website using PayPal (autographed copy); and from Amazon. The e-book is available from Kindle, NOOK,  iBook & Google PlayI will be happy to send free copies for review or promotional purposes. If you’re an accomplished professional in the field of comedy, or a reviewer, reporter, blogger or podcaster (or anybody who promises an honest review on my Amazon page), send me a request and I will send you a copy (digital or paper back). You can also read free samples at both the Kindle Store and Google Play. The best sample is at Google Books.

If you like writing jokes, I hope this helps.


A great joke writer. – Tom Griswold on The Bob and Tom Show, May 16, 2013


That’s a funny book. – Colin Quinn, outside the Comedy Cellar in New York City, commenting on The Vile File, Jokes too Sick for the Stage (see blog post), the summer of 2000


Dwight York, as inventive as he is suggestive, is what Steven Wright would be if Wright had Robert Schimmel’s blue streak, and that’s a  compliment to all three master comics.Laughspin review of Quickies (2009; Stand Up! Records)


York delivers a rapid paced series of very funny and original one liners, most of which you will want to repeat to your friends and a few of which you can share at the office. There may be a couple of groaners and moaners on this CD but even those jokes are quite good.The Serious Comedy Site review of Quickies


This joke book is a lot of fun.The Serious Comedy Site review of More From The Vile File: 500 Sick Jokes

Jokes Pokes and Chokes

Two years ago, I converted my website to a WordPress site so I could blog. The plan was to write something new every week. But the demands of life and lack of enough cool stuff worthy of writing about made me lazy. So instead of every week, I decided to write a new post only whenever something groovy was about to happen (or happened). Well, something cool worth bragging about is happening again.

This Saturday night at a tattoo convention, my unique brand of joke slinging will be part of a big stage show featuring comedy, music, Burlesque and professional wrestling. The audience will be comprised of people who know how to have fun and love to have cool stuff done to their bodies. And I’m not just talking about the Burlesque dancers.

Jokes, Pokes and Chokes happens Saturday May 4-5, Black Bear Casino’s, Otter Creek Convention Center. It’s brought to you by Tattoo You Minnesota. For a $15 weekend pass, you can find the the perfect artist for your new ink, watch others get inked, get ideas for new ink…. meet and commune with cool people…. Saturday, starting at 6:30 PM, the party kicks into high gear with live music, me slinging jokes, Northern Light Burlesque and H.O.W. Pro Wrestling.

Dustin “Gold Dust” Runnels

Besides getting a new tattoo, you can buy some groovy-cool T-shirts. Like the one below. It was designed by the tattoo artist Sam IAM Dunn, North East Tattoo. That’s me under the gun. The proceeds for the sale of the T-shirt goes to the promoter. I’m not trying to hawk T-shirts after my show. But I will be selling my new joke book, More From the Vile File, and my CD Quickies. Maybe we can work out some package deal?

“I really don’t know what it feels like to get a tattoo, but I do have a few painful memories involving camel toes.”


More From The Vile File: 500 Sick Jokes

I am very pleased to make the official announcement. The months of waiting are over. It’s a book.


Thanks to my publisher, Stand Up! Books (a brand new division of Stand Up! Records) for making my dream a reality. And for producing such a cool looking product. The cover was designed by Ian Rans. Illustration by Aaron Caswell. The cover design was the brainchild of Rans. It’s a parody of a Chick tract (fundamentalist Christian  comic book).

Thanks also to Greg Fideler, Dave Mordal, Chad Daniels and Pete Lee for providing quotes for the back cover. I begged them to read my book with the hope they might say something nice. I never dared dream that they’d come up with anything so FANTASTIC!

Speaking of fantastic (and humbling). Thanks also to Letta Page, who wrote the product description (below). She also helped edit the book. Thanks also to Bryan Miller, who helped in editing too.

You can pre-order my new joke book from Amazon. I have copies now, and will be selling them after my show. Amazon will have them within days. UPDATE: Tuesday, Sept 18: They are available TODAY!

Hope you like jokes! Because here we go…

Get your copy today!

Tour Dates
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