Thursday, May 17, 2012 | 11:11 p.m.
The new Laugh Factory at the Tropicana has been open for just over a month, but the legendary comedy venue has wasted no time recruiting some of the resident talent from its flagship location in Los Angeles. This weekend, English-born comedian Ian Edwards takes the stage with his edgy, offbeat brand of observational humor.
“I’m kind of a contrarian. I like to keep things unexpected, whoever the audience may be,” he says. One need only to refer to his popular “shark attack” joke to understand what he’s getting at: “It shouldn’t be called a shark attack. We live on land, sharks live in the water. So if you go in there and get bitten, well, you’re trespassing. A real shark attack would be if you’re somewhere you’re supposed to be, say at home taking a shower, and a shark comes in and bites you. That’s a shark attack!”
In addition to Edwards’ residency at the Laugh Factory in L.A., he’s made a name for himself through notable standup appearances including “Late Night With Conan O’Brien,” “Def Comedy Jam,” HBO’s “Bad Boys of Comedy” and six seasons as a cast member on MTV’s “Punk’d.” However, Edwards’ wit has proved to be as sharp behind the pen as it is behind the mic; he’s penned punchlines for a variety of TV shows including “The Boondocks,” “Saturday Night Live” and an upcoming reboot of “In Living Color” on Fox.
Maintaining success can be tricky for someone who casts as wide of a comedic net as Edwards does, but he cites that mass appeal as his specialty.
“My topics are universal. I like to play with conventional thoughts and observations we can all relate to and turn them on their heads,” he says, explaining that he’s looking forward to performing for Las Vegas’ more international crowd for that very reason.
As for whether he prefers gigs as a writer or a performer, Edwards quips, “I prefer whichever one pays the most and lasts the longest.” Joking aside, Edwards says he appreciates the challenges unique to each job.
“I learn from each writing experience. For example, doing ‘In Living Color’ taught me to think more beyond the punchline and consider the whole character and context rather than just make a joke,” he says.
Though Edwards initially felt pressured to focus his career in one direction, he now takes pride in wearing multiple hats in comedy and cites the careers of multifaceted performers like Louie C.K. and Chris Rock as inspirations.
“I realized it’s kind of a dream to be known as both a writer and a performer,” he says. “I love show business, and as long as I’m involved in it some way, I don’t mind doing it.”
Edwards performs at the Laugh Factory through Sunday with Dean Delray and host Zach Risen; showtimes are 8:30 and 10:30 p.m., with tickets starting at $31.90.