When comedian Marz Timms was passing through Moab a couple of years ago, he noticed a place called Negro Bill Canyon – a popular hiking area near Moab named after William Granstaff, a prospector and rancher who grazed his cattle there during the late 1800s.
“I had to go see what it was all about,” Timms said. “There was not a negro in sight.”
The Chicago-based comedian will be back in Moab on Thursday, April 2 for a stand-up comedy performance at Moab’s Backyard Theater, 56 W. 100 South. Moab magician Rick Boretti will open the show.
“I’ll be telling jokes, funny stories that have happened to me; what it’s like out snowboarding and being the only black guy on the mountain at times,” Timms said.
Timms has been touring since December to promote his new CD “The Look,” which is also available on iTunes. He’s known for his stand-up sketches, improvisational work, plays and acting. He plays the character Creighton in an independent romantic comedy film called “Scrapers” that will come out in the fall.
He’s been a comedian all his life as class clown, Timms said. Professionally, he’s worked at comedy since he graduated from high school. He started taking improv classes at The Second City, where a lot of Saturday Night Live comedians got their start. Timms began acting in commercials, and has toured with friend and writing partner Greg Hollimon, known for his work on Comedy Central’s “Strangers with Candy.”
Timms said he likely inherited his sense of humor from his parents, who were known for constantly cracking jokes during Sunday breakfast in their west-side Chicago home, as they watched the passersby outside their window.
Yet, his dad was “cold” to the idea at first of his son becoming a comedian, he said. He didn’t quite appreciate the skill it takes to get up in front of an audience and make them laugh, Timms said.
“I gave him a chance to open for one of my shows,” Timms recalled. “He walks out on the stage; he can’t see, he’s blinded by the bright lights. He chokes and freezes and walks off the stage. Ever since, he has a new respect for what I do.”
For the past 11 years, Timms has performed a weekly Friday night show in Chicago called Pimprov, a show that he founded about four pimps who mistakenly take improv comedy classes at Second City. An understudy takes over for him when Timms is touring or teaching improv workshops across the country.
According to Gigmasters website, “His ability to get to know everyone in the audience and allow them the comfort of laughing at the wild stories from his childhood to his observations on race is uncanny.”
Moab musicians Sand and Sunnie Sheff opened the Moab Backyard Theater in 2013. Starting in mid-April, they and a few other musicians will perform bluegrass music there on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. The stage is set beneath a huge cottonwood, and there are a mismatch of chairs, including hay bales for seating.
“We host shows several times a week during the warmer seasons (it’s closed during the winter). Acts include magician shows, various live music performances, and occasionally old-time movies — mostly old westerns,” Sunnie Sheff said.
“It’s a lot of fun,” she said. “We try and keep it family-oriented. We wanted a place where people could bring their families. Most shows are free.”
Comedian comes to Moab Backyard Theater on April 2
“I’ll be telling jokes, funny stories that have happened to me; what it’s like out snowboarding and being the only black guy on the mountain at times.” — Marz Timms
When: Thursday, April 2; opening act at 8 p.m.
Where: Moab’s Backyard Theater, 56 W.100 South