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Funny Farmer

Comedian Hendren to perform
at J.C. Soil & Water meeting

Hendren farms in Ohio
and travels the country entertaining

(February 2014) – He told himself he would give standup comedy a try by the time he turned 18 years old, but Jay Hendren was actually 26 before he stepped on stage and faced an expectant audience. “I was one of the shyest kids in my class,” Hendren said, “but I forced myself to get my courage up and do it.”
Hendren, now 44, will entertain at the Jefferson County Soil and Water Conservation District’s dinner and meeting Monday, Feb. 3, at the Pines Restaurant. The event is open to the public and begins at 6 p.m. Tickets cost $10.

Hendren
Hendren

With numerous accolades that include the title of “America’s Funniest Farmer,” Hendren describes his standup show as clean humor that people of all ages can enjoy. Much of his comedy is based in agriculture and farming, he said, with “a down-home country feel to it. I take a ‘common sense’ approach to everything.”
Hendren grew up on a farm in Johnstown, Ohio. When he isn’t making audiences laugh, he runs a grain farm there.
Now performing shows that regularly sell out, Hendren’s journey as a comedian began at the Funny Bone Comedy Club  in Columbus, Ohio, where he participated in open mic nights.
“Someone there saw my act and then hired me to perform at their seed company’s Christmas party,” he said. “They liked it so much they told others about it, and then those people told even more people. It was a happy accident. It just kind of fell in my lap, and it’s been growing ever since.”
The Funny Bone named Hendren “the funniest person in Columbus.” Although Hendren appears in fewer open mic nights now that he has his own farm and a family, crowds across the nation have discovered his comedy – with jokes based in agriculture as well as a more general act unrelated to farming – at colleges, corporate events and gatherings such as the Soil and Water District’s upcoming dinner.
The Jefferson County Soil and Water Conversation District is one of 92 districts in Indiana dedicated to educating government agencies and citizens in conservation practices concerning land use. “There are a lot of ways to conserve resources,” said District Coordinator Kayla Hubbard. “We also sell seeds and books on planting, and we present at high schools to teach new methods to students considering going into agriculture in the future.”
Hubbard said the dinner at The Pines is an opportunity for Jefferson County farmers to gather and become acquainted with the district’s governing board of directors. “Usually on the agenda, we start with the invocation of new board members,” she said, “and we give a presentation on what we’ve accomplished over the past year.”
District officials will also give local recognition to Hanover, Ind., farmer Wes Thomas of Reed’s Orchard, a grain and specialty farm. Thomas was named Jefferson County’s 2013 River Friendly Farmer, an annual award that recognizes outstanding conservation practices implemented by farmers throughout the state. Indiana Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann presented Thomas and winners from other Indiana counties with the award at the Indiana State Fairgrounds last August. “The dinner in February gives us a chance to recognize him at the local level,” said Hubbard.
Guests at the dinner can expect more than presentations and awards with America’s funniest farmer there. Madison’s large population of agriculture savvy citizens should fit in with his key audience. However, Hendren said guests do not need a deep comprehension of the nuances of farming in order to understand his jokes.
“I talk to the crowd a lot,” said Hendren. “I interact with them and try to see how the reaction is to what I’m doing, then go from there. I keep it spontaneous.”
Yet, there is a distinction between a comedian and a funny comedian. Hendren admitted that he did not come to his first appearance at the Funny Bone with a perfectly hilarious routine. “It took me several years to really get good at it and comfortable with it,” he said, “and part of that is getting over fear. I kept going and eventually got over my fears, and I’m so happy I did.”

• For more information, contact Kayla Hubbard at (812) 265-7609.

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