Many people give up on their dreams as they get older, settle down and have children. For veteran and Hattiesburg resident Ben Compton, this wasn’t an option. He always knew he was interested in comedy, and a few years ago, he finally took his chance and with the support of his wife and children, began his career as a stand-up comic.
He is now the winner of Signature Magazine and Festival South’s 2018 Best of the Pine Belt award for Best Local Comedian, has performed on Season Two of Kevin Hart’s ‘Hart of the City’ and will be recording his first half-hour feature at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 18 at the Thirsty Hippo.
(Ben also hosts and performs at the Keg (& Barrel) Stand open mic night at 8:30 p.m. every Monday).
But he can put aside the humor to talk about balancing his day jobs, his passions and his family.
“There’s days I don’t get home until 11 at night,” he said. “I might work all day 8 to 5, get off, and change right then and head to open mic or to a comedy show. Then I come back that night, make it home and take a shower, get in the bed, wake up and do it all over again. Or I work Monday through Friday full time, leave Friday night or early Saturday morning, head into the city, and I don’t even see my kids. It’s kind of hectic. That’s the grind, I guess.”
What does being a man – a husband, dad, breadwinner – mean to Compton?
“Somebody who accepts responsibility and accountability. Being a man isn’t being jacked or eating glass,” he said. “Being a man is being able to say things aren’t going the way I thought they were gonna go, so let me accept responsibility and provide for my family. I try to always encourage my kids to be the best they can be and then show them I’m going to try to be the best that I can be.
“I always go back to the story of Moses,” Compton said. “Moses never saw the Promised Land. He didn’t make it, he did all this work and got none of the reward. I think that’s being a man. Sometimes you do all the work and lay the foundation, but you don’t get anything from it. It might be your kids, or your wife, or whoever. That’s it. Whether I’m doing comedy, working for SPF, cleaning buildings for Service King, cutting grass, or taking kids to ball practice, whatever, it’s nonstop.”
His daughters only recently got to see their dad perform for the first time.
“The night we had the watch party when the episode aired, that was the first time they’d ever seen me tell a joke,” he recounts. “They’d never heard me structure a joke, practice jokes; they’d never heard any of it, and after that they asked a lot of questions. ‘How do you do this?’ ‘What do you do?’ Stuff like that.”
And if his children were to follow in his footsteps as an entertainer some day?
“I think it would be cool to see one of them do comedy, or then maybe to see them go further or do better than what I did,” he said. “I don’t know if I want them to be more successful than me – there’s not much that I can have on my kids for too much longer. My older daughter’s taller than me already, so there’s not much I have over my kids for too long. So, if I can dangle a $20 million check in front of them, like, ‘You ain’t never had a $20 million check before!’”
For the record, Ben Compton is 5’ 4”, although his wife will say he is 5’ 5”.
Brittany Purvis likes to emcee events and occasionally perform stand up in her free time. Compton wishes she would do stand up more often, but she’s not as motivated