"[Raleigh's] where I got my start," the 42-year-old Hickory native says by phone from Orlando, Fla. "I never thought about doing stand-up until I moved to Raleigh. So it's always going to have a soft spot in my heart."
While attending N.C. State in the mid-'90s, Reep got the itch for stage comedy while majoring in theater. "I discovered that I was pretty good at it, according to the teacher and other classmates," he says. "It really gave me the confidence to try stand-up for the first time. If I hadn't lucked into that theater class, I would never even be a stand-up."
Reep set his sights on Los Angeles after performing in the Triangle and working as a production assistant at UNC-TV. ("I haven't had a real job since 1998," he says, chuckling.) LA-based for the past 14 years, Reep says that living in the Golden State has contributed significantly to his Southern-fried, fish-out-of-water-style.
"All my life, I was in North Carolina," he says. "When you go to a restaurant and order a tea, it would come brown, iced and usually sweetened—unless you said non-sweetened iced tea. When I go to a restaurant in Los Angeles and say, 'I'd like to order a tea,' there's like eight million questions that come after that. 'Do you want iced tea or hot tea?' 'I want iced tea.' 'Do you want passion fruit iced tea? Do you want green tea? Do you want ginseng?' I didn't even know what a passion fruit was until I moved to California."
Since living there, in addition to winning Last Comic Standing, Reep has done a half-hour special on Comedy Central, a comedy album and another hour-long special, titled Jon Reep: Metro Jethro.
Next month, he can be seen in the found-footage disaster film Into the Storm. But this week, he makes one of his regular visits to Goodnights Comedy Club, located not too far from his alma mater, where he started out almost 20 years ago. As always, he's looking forward to coming home and entertaining his people.
"I want them to leave happy," he says. "I'm not one of these comics that's going to try to prove a political point and make a change on some issue. I'm a guy that's going to entertain you for the hour and make you laugh as hard as you've ever laughed before."
This article appeared in print with the headline "Reep what you sow."