Heywood Banks has been making annual visits to Dayton area comedy clubs for over 20 years. I have to admit the first time I saw him, I was not amused. But I will tell you, the more I saw him the more he grew on me. You can’t watch 7 shows a week and not end up with one of his goofy songs stuck in your head. Over time I realized that he’s an amazing musician, a clever writer and a real independent spirit. When in you stand in the back of the showroom and watch him lead a couple hundred beer drinkers singing a verse of 18 Wheels on a Big Rig and counting in roman numerals, you know you’ve seen an unusual talent.
In the early days Stuart would appear on stage in character as Heywood Banks, nerdy glasses taped together, a hideous plaid jacket and often mismatched socks and 2 different shoes. It didn’t matter- the audience adored him. Just about every show there would be an audience member or two dressed up like him. And the crowd would clamor to hear their favorite songs. Later with the syndication of the Bob & Tom morning show on local radio, his popularity grew.
His songs often inspired by simple every day things, like the Garden Weasel, Toast and Wiper Blades, became the mainstay of his shows and eventually the shows were less clever wordplay and more like live concerts. Heywood’s character evolved and the nerd disappeared and the more eclectic Stuart Mitchell came center stage. Now with hundreds of songs, he has maintained the squeaky clean format, proving that clever can outsell dick jokes, even on the comedy club circuit. And just like any live concert, the crowds line up after the show to buy his cd’s, books and t-shirts, in what has lovingly been nicknamed Hey- Mart.
If you still aren’t familiar with the singer/songwriter/comic/cult icon I’m describing, then check out this Youtube clip of one of his fastest spreading songs, paying homage to the religious statue on I75:
Heywood’s next local live appearance will be at Wiley’s Comedy Club May 5-7. For more info call the club at 224-JOKE.