Our son, Colin Johnston, is a professional comedian.
Colin started studying under Gary Hood (2 Emmy nominations) in Fort Worth late in 2003. To date his highlights have been opening guest spots for Pauly Shore, Bobby Lee (of Mad TV) and Dan Merryman (The Outlaws of Comedy which included Sam Kinison). He has entertained our troops at bases in Oklahoma and Texas too. Colin's goal is to make Saturday Night Live in 5 years. He can do it.
Like his great, great, great grandfather (Robert "Red Robin" Johnston), Colin stands 6'-5" tall. It's difficult to miss him in a crowd. He's outstanding - in more ways than one.
Update, 10/4/04: Colin has progressed from being an opening comic to being a feature comic. A feature comic does 15 minute acts vs. 2-3 minutes as an opener. A headliner does 40-60+ minutes. He has a gig coming up at Rich Miller's club in Arkansas (brother of comic Dennis Miller).
Update, 11/15/04: Colin is in Toronto, Canada, where for the next 2 months he will be taking classes in improvisational comedy at Second City. He loved his first class. Latest joke: "I love 'Bush', I just don't like our President..." He is witty :-)
Update, 12/18/04: CW (drummer with the Crickets of Buddy Holly fame) has booked Colin several times and continues to do so, as does Rich Miller. One of Colin's ideas for a reality show was accepted by a Canadian TV studio. If the idea comes to fruition, he will be a consultant/writer for the program. He continues with his class studies at Second City - loves it.
Update, 1/17/05: It's a small world - after class while cooling off with his classmates whom should he run into? Horatio Sanz and the Pauly Shore entourage. A good time was had by all. He arrived home the next day pumped. 4 days later he was in Arkansas with Dan Merryman doing a gig.
Update, 4/8/05: The Laugh Resort in Toronto continues to book Colin. The Laugh Resort is known as a jumping off platform for many of today's premier comics.
Update, 4/22/05: Eye Weekly (a free entertainment/things-to-do publication in Toronto) on 4/17/05 selected Colin as a "Pick of the Week" entertainer and listed him first. He's also started a sketch writing course. It takes a lot of hard work to be a successful comic.
Update, 5/8/05: Colin made his successful debut with his class troup on the Second City stage. 2 veteran audience members came up to him after the performance and compared him favorably to John Belushi & Chris Farley - that made his day!
Update, 5/14/05: This past weekend Colin performed at Hyenas in Arlington along with Dan Merryman and others. Then it was back to Toronto - next week he starts voice lessons, and more clases at Second City. Big surprise: as busy as Colin is, he started doing volunteer service work at Toronto Sick Children's Hospital trying to cheer up the wee ones. He finally told me about it after doing it for several weeks. When I asked him, "Why?", he replied, "I've been really fortunate. I just wanted to try to bring some happiness to others who haven't been as fortunate." Well, he chose wisely in my opinion. He has been deeply moved by the circumstances of the children there. We're proud of him.
Update, 5/21/06: Colin was excited about entering the conservatory portion of his Second City training in Toronto. Then at Canadian immigration this year they told him that they were going to have to start refusing him entry to Canada without a student visa or dual citizenship (the preferred way to go according to them). So Colin went to apply for his dual citizenship in Dallas and was told that he was to not return to Canada until it was processed! That would take about 1 year. Colin was devastated, to say the least. There went his Second City studies down the tube - an innocent victim of 9-11. That meant developing a "plan B" and doing open mics and pick-ups at Fort Worth/Arlington, Texas, area clubs. It looks as if it's going to pay off too. Butch Lord has asked him to tour with him. Butch, Colin and Gary Hood will perform Memorial Day weekend at The Looney Bin Comedy Club in Oklahoma City - 2 shows each night Thursday through Sunday. The headliner is Butch Lord, Colin is the feature and Gary is the host. It promises to be a great show! That's a "Big 10-4".
Update, 6/1/06: The Memorial weekend performances were highlighted by a telephone call from Tommy Chong (of Cheech and Chong fame) to Colin congratulating him on having done a great performance Friday night. Unknown to Colin, Butch is a good friend of Tommy Chong and had him call Colin at 2 AM to congratulate him. Colin's been on cloud 9 for several days...
Update, 7/31/2006: Colin got a few seconds on "The Last Comic Standing" television show several months ago as an up-and-coming comic - we all missed it, but the local club owners and comedians didn't. Now we'll have to buy the cd to see it. This past weekend saw him performing at Hyena's Comedy Club in Fort Worth and really rocking them.
Update, 9/9/2006: Colin went to Hyenas Comedy Club in Fort Worth expecting to hang and take in the show. There were some complications with the headliner, and Colin was asked to fill in for him. This was his first headliner performance. He didn't want to go on stage as he was short about 10 minutes for a headliner performance. The manager insisted, and Colin rocked them with what he had. He admits though that running out of "A-list" material is rough, even for only 10 minutes. Now he has those 10 minutes filled, and he's ready for anything...
Update, 10-6-06: Altus Air Force Base, OK. Colin was the feature comic on a program that showcased Chip Flato as the headliner. As Chip and Colin were swapping information on their backgrounds before the show they discovered that they had both trained at Second City - Chip in Chicago and Colin in Toronto. They both bemoaned the lack of improv comedy performance opportunities. At the end of the show Chip asked the audience if they would like to see some improv comedy. The answer was an enthusiastic, "Yes!" The "second show" was the highlight of the evening, and the comics received a standing ovation which they so richly deserved - great to see the veteran (Chip) and the rookie (Colin) work together so well on stage. It was one of the best shows that I've seen.
Update, 11-26-06: Close to 500 people jammed into Hyena's in Fort Worth to see Colin do a 30 minute opening act for Pablo Francisco. It was a laugh-filled night as Pablo rocked the crowd with an uproarious 2 hour and 15 minute performance.
Update, 6-8-07: Thinking that he would be a feature for the next year or two it didn't take long before Colin was called upon to be the headliner for several shows. One never knows! Then Colin auditioned for and was asked to join an improv troupe based in Houston. He accepted. In addition he has started a program in radio communications at an area college...busy...busy...busy.
Update, 8-17-07: Colin was offered a contract to headline and travel the U.S. - a big break. Instead he's decided that it's back to school to pursue his radio communications interests at Alvin Community College in Alvin, Texas, and then the U. of Texas. His SNL goal has been put on the back burner.
Update, 12-16-09: An automobile wreck, accompanying injuries and their lingering effects have effectively ended Colin's pursuit of his degree in radio and television communications, but he is back to his first love, standup comedy and writing. He recently moved to Chicago and can be seen performing in the greater Chicago area. In addition to taking classes at Second City and performing he sets aside time each day to write new material. He has submitted several skits to Saturday Night Live and more are coming. Hopefully as he continues to do this SNL will use some of his work. Look for exciting news to come from his association with Bubba Muski - you heard it here first! Colin does have the talent, even as he works through the pain. Pain is driving a Honda Accord with your old man in the passenger seat and being T-boned at 50 mph by a big Chevy Suburban. That's a double big OUCH!!
Update, 12-27-09: While keeping us in laughter for Christmas and my birthday (the next day) Colin got a telephone call from a booking agent. The guy tracked him down and wanted to know if he could book Colin for some gigs - absolutely!!! Things are looking good.
Update, 1-31-10: Colin is currently taking a class in long-form improv at IO (Improv Olympic) in Chicago. He loves it. In addition to doing standup comedy in the area he has been approached to act in a short comedy film. He is really looking forward to this :-) His other projects include producing a promotional cd for his portfolio and writing a book.
Update, 5-17-10: Colin gave a great performance on the Rising Stars Showcase at Zanies Comedy Club in Chicago. He was asked to come back on a regular basis :-) This could be the start of something big...
Update, 5-20-10: Chicago Police were involved in a high speed chase of a stolen tow truck. The area was zoned for a speed limit of 25 mph. The perpetrator, traveling at an estimated 60-70 mph, ran a stop sign and hit Colin's car at the left, front wheel area, totally demolishing the car and sending Colin to the hospital with severe injuries...
Update, 9-3-11: Colin has been suffering with severe, uncontrollable pain from the above mentioned car-truck wreck. He has undergone physical rehabilitation, steroid injections, etc. with little relief. Since starting the medicine Cymbalta he appears to have gained some relief from his pain, though not complete. He will never be able to do the type of physical comedy that he loved so much, but he is talking now about getting back into stand-up comedy which he may be able to do on a limited basis. He tried a few new bits on me 2 days ago, and I was rolling with laughter. Be sure to ask him about his bit on E.D.. It is so-o-o funny...
Update, 2-27-13: The past few years have been difficult for Colin. He continues to have severe, uncontrollable pain in spite of all the physical therapy and medications that have been prescribed for him. His dreams and aspirations for his career in comedy have been side-tracked, perhaps for good. It is a devastating blow to all of us. In spite of these setbacks and medical problems he continues his rehabilitation efforts when the pain allows it. He has overcome his limp and is standing much taller.
Update, 12/14/13: There has been no improvement in Colin's medical condition. Unfortunately, he has gotten worse. To add insult to injury, the position of the city of Chicago and the Chicago Police Department has been that there was no hot pursuit leading up to the car wreck which ended Colin's comedy career. Colin's attorney asked for the dispatchers' tapes for that particular night. The Chicago P.D. claimed that they were unable to find the tapes. Finally after much prodding the tapes were located just recently and turned over to Colin's attorney. Apparently the dispatcher was aware of the illegal hot pursuit by the Chicago Police and several times can be heard to have called it off - sadly, to no avail. The police continued with their apparently illegal, hot pursuit which contributed to the truck/multiple car wreck and the permanent, totally-disabling injuries to our son, Colin. Of course, none of the policemen were injured. "To serve and to protect."...really???
As most parents we always have wanted the best for our son, Colin. As a young child he showed excellent writing skills far above his grade level. We tried to encourage him to follow his heart and do what he thought that he would be happiest doing. When he told us that he wanted to be a professional comedian I found a class for him, and unexpectedly his future mentor, Gary Hood who took Colin under his wing and taught him not only the comedy end of performing on stage, but also the business end of it - so important. Being a professional comedian is a long, hard career path for anyone. Colin never complained about anything and worked hard. He was well ahead of the learning curve, reaching goals that made others envious of him. The first time that I saw him on stage I recognized that he had an excellent stage presence and voice. He needed the usual professional training and seasoning, but we could all see his potential. My Dad and I were in the audience. After the first 30 seconds Dad leaned over to me and said, "He's got it. He can go all the way." Dad was beaming! I agreed. I was so proud of him :-) We sent him to take classes at Second City in Toronto, CANADA, as they were said to have stronger classes than their other locations for teaching the basics. In addition he took private voice and acting classes from some of the best instructors in North America. His last performance impressed the club booking agent. Colin was so E-X-C-I-T-E-D and happy as we were for him. Who knew that 4 nights later a car thief and a thoughtless, illegal, police, hot pursuit would put an end his hopes, dreams and hard work as he was driving to a Friday night gig in Chicago, making all those years of hard work and sacrificing go for naught in a split second? ... Now he is permanently disabled and in pain for the rest of his life even while taking strong pain medications.
Update, 1-1-20: Colin had his day in court against the alleged perpetrator and the City of Chicago Police Department. It was a short hearing. The judge asked the arresting officer if he saw the alleged perpetrator in the courtroom. The arresting officer looked at the alleged perpetrator and responded, "No." How many times does an arresting officer not remember in court the face of an alleged perpetrator whom he has arrested? Try almost never. Immediately, the judge dismissed the case. Interestingly, the alleged perpetrator remained in jail, accused of having committed false imprisonment of some people in an apartment immediately after the car wreck. He is a two time convicted felon and faces life in prison under the "three strikes" law. So much for justice.
Update, 3-30-20: Colin is trying to be more active in an attempt to get back on stage. He has a constant battle with pain and hopes to improve to where he can perform again. His goal? 2-3 years, and then hopefully on a cruise ship as we are so close to where they dock. We have our fingers crossed...