Ben Kronberg strolled into Emerson’s Café covered head to toe in denim, a guitar strapped across his back, thick black-framed glasses resting on his nose, and an unruly gray beard that could have belonged to Rip Van Winkle.
This winter, the Colorado native is bringing his raunchy, deadpan humor to college campuses across the Northeast. The tour takes him to Vermont, New Hampshire, and Connecticut, and Feb. 8 Kronberg will make an appearance in the Max Mutchnick Multipurpose Room for the Emerson Mane Events Comedy Showcase.
His career as a comedian started in 2005. Kronberg began performing in small Colorado bars, worked the Los Angeles and New York scenes, and is now taking on the halls of higher education.
The jump from the bar to the auditorium stems from Kronberg’s performances at multiple National Association for Camps Activities conferences that put him on the map of college administrators looking to book campus events.
This was not a planned decision, but a financial one. Rather than getting paid with beer, Kronberg said, he would get paid with actual money, a welcome change.
Although Kronberg’s career is beginning to gain momentum, he said he feels that his profession in comedy was a sneak attack.
“I had no intentions of being a comedian,” he said. “I have always loved comedy, but I never surrendered myself fully to it.”
After majoring in film at University of Colorado-Boulder, Kronberg took on a myriad of professions. He has worked in bars and restaurants, edited web videos, and even owned a courier business.
In his spare time, he would occasionally perform at open nights with funny songs and jokes with a peppy tune.
But none of these jobs gave Kronberg the freedom he desired.
“I like the free speech aspect of comedy,” he said. “I like to wear what I want, say what I want, be who I wasn’t, or to be someone entirely different.”
During his stand-up routine, Kronberg relies on a packed notebook filled with puns and delivers off-color one-liners.
For a comedian who had no intention of actually becoming one, Kronberg has had great success in the field. His career path still surprises him.
“I never even asked it to go out on a date and then we were married,” he said of comedy. “Weird.”
With subject matter like abortion and feces, his jokes don’t always go down easily. One dead fetus joke too many can leave an audience in silence.
Kronberg’s artistic freedom has caused problems in the past. The crowd at a performance during Western Oregon University’s freshman orientation in 2010 was particularly rough. Kronberg said he was given free reign on material, and his crass humor met indignation from some members of the school.
“After that, when I performed at schools I would be a little more guarded,” he said.
Kronberg has found that his best work comes from collaborations with other comics. His latest collaboration was with comedian Jena Friedman on the FunnyorDie.com sketch “Ted & Gracie” written by Friedman. In this mockumentary the two star as an awkward young couple planning their wedding on a budget. Ted, Kronberg’s character, immediately strikes the viewer as a tad bit unusual — he acts socially awkward and flashes unsettling, dark looks at the camera. Through four videos the audience learns that Ted is actually a woman-abducting serial killer.
Kronberg has gained the attention of casting directors through his portrayal of the Ted Bundy-like fiancé. He has received opportunities to perform in short films, web videos, and even landed on ABC’s obstacle course game show Wipeout twice—he lost to the big red balls both times.