It is rare that a comedian as successful as Dan St. Paul can walk down the street unrecognized. But Dan St. Paul isn’t successful from television or movies – he’s the rare comedian that hit it big on the radio.
Even if you don’t know the name, you probably still know the bit; St. Paul’s religious satire classic “First Baseball Game” is a favorite on Bob & Tom’s uber-syndicated morning show, and is also wildly popular on the internet.
And it’s not just St. Paul’s face you might not recognize – you might not even know his voice, since most of the bit is done as an impression of late Cubs’ announcer Harry Carey.
“I love baseball and I was raised Catholic,” St Paul said about the evolution of the bit. “The homophones ‘penance’ and ‘pennants’ inspired me to make a list of religious and baseball terms. I started putting them together and the bit wrote itself.”
There’s some exceedingly clever word play in the bit, as well as tons of well-placed biblical references. “Water! Water!,” one concessioner yells, before pausing and yelling “Wine!”
“I almost have to do the bit because if I don’t, people come up to me after the show to express their disappointment,” St. Paul said about his live shows. “I’ve actually done the bit for people after the show was over so they wouldn’t go home disappointed.”
St. Paul’s live shows are a mix between clubs, theaters, and a great deal of corporate work. It’s been a strange journey for a comedian who first started in 1980, and made his TV debut in 1981.
Like many comedians during the boom, St. Paul eventually moved to Los Angeles. But he didn’t enjoy the eight years he spent there, especially “the glad handing and schmoozing.” St. Paul returned to his native San Francisco in 1994, and calls that the smartest thing he’s done for his career.
“I came back to the high-tech revolution and made a killing in the corporate market,” St. Paul said. “I was able to buy a nice house a raise a family.”
At home, St. Paul can miraculously have the financial security of a success with the anonymity of a failure – it’s a combination that many entertainers seek but few achieve. And while St. Paul is one of the most sought after acts on the corporate market and has toured with legends like Ringo Starr and Chicago, he says the highlight of his career came just 8 months ago at The State Theater in the small town of Bay City, Michigan. After another Bob & Tom favorite failed to show, St. Paul had to improvise.
“I did an hour and 45 minutes and 400 people gave me a standing ovation,” St. Paul said. “I immediately thought, “Where’s HBO when you need them?'”
The strange thing is that St. Paul is one of the few comedians who doesn’t need them.