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Comedian gives up road after brush with death

Many people experience life-changing events that lead them to one significant revelation or another.

Local stand-up comedian Joe Lowers' wake-up call came in 1998.

Lowers, a native of Pittsburgh, was traveling home at night after a show in a neighboring town when an accident on the highway caused him to roll his pickup truck several times.

The funny man was tired of all the travel his job entailed. He knew he had to find a permanent gig.

"Joe had been on the road doing comedy for years," said his wife, Jenny. "He wanted to move out here (to Las Vegas) and have the audience come to him."

The two made the move to Las Vegas in 2003.

"I thought, 'I don't have to die making people laugh,' " Joe Lowers said. "That car crash changed the way I think and feel."

Lowers, a Spring Valley resident, began pounding the pavement, playing gigs here and there, eventually landing a twice-a-week headlining job at the Royal Resort in 2008.

Last month he debuted his own show, "The Joe Show," at the Tuscany, 255 E. Flamingo Road. The show is scheduled at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Lowers said he is happy with where he landed, and now he uses his experiences in life to help other comedians find their footing.

Lowers founded the World Series of Comedy in Pittsburgh with the intent of bringing it to Las Vegas.

The event pits 200 comedians competing in 13 shows for the chance at 50 weeks of work at comedy venues around the country.

"I know how hard this business is to get the work," he said. "Imagine applying for a job 20 times a day."

This is the World Series of Comedy's first year in Las Vegas. The event is scheduled for Sept. 17-22 at the Tuscany.

In addition to the performances, the comedians get the chance to meet dozens of comedy club owners as part of a networking event set up by Lowers. There are also plans for comedy seminars and chances for the comedians to participate in additional late-night shows.

Lowers added that around 500 performers audition to take part in the event and that those who are not chosen can volunteer to help with the proceedings, allowing them free entry to the events.

"It can be frustrating for the comics trying to break in to the business," he said. "(The World Series of Comedy) is a way to get these young comics in front of club owners."

According to Jenny Lowers, many of the young comedians look up to her husband because of his willingness to help them.

"Joe uses local talent to host his shows for him," she said. "He wants to give them an opportunity."

It may have been a car accident that brought Joe Lowers to Las Vegas, but he said he is happy to have ended up in a "great community of comics."

"Comics tend to support each other," he said. "I made a lot of mistakes coming up, and I want to pass that knowledge along. It all comes back around in the end."

Contact Southwest/Spring Valley View reporter Nolan Lister at or 383-0492.