J. Medicine Hat


Friday August 24th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

   I was unpleasantly surprised to learn of a fellow performer’s untimely passing today. His name is Jent Monk, but he was better known for years as a hypnotist by his stage name of ‘J. Medicine Hat.’ I always thought that was a kick ass stage name, and he carved a profitable niche with it.

He was originally from Iowa and we first worked together in October of 1988 in Kalamazoo at the Hilton Comedy Club. I know it was October of 1988, because the World Series was going on and Jent and I went to watch it after our show. It was the game where Kirk Gibson hit his classic home run off Dennis Eckersley to win the game in the bottom of the 9th inning. It was a classic.

For some inexplicable reason, right before the pitch on which Gibson would hit the home run a hushed moment of silence fell over the sports bar where we were watching it. I turned to Jent and said out loud “He’s going to hit it out right here.” Sure enough, two seconds later he did just that.

Jent and everyone else looked at me with quizzical eyes as Gibson was rounding the bases with a pronounced limp, and I just shrugged my shoulders. I have no idea why I knew he was going to hit it out right then, but I totally did. It’s a moment that’s still very vivid in my mind even now.

We crossed paths a few more times after that on the comedy trail, and we’d always refer to that moment because it was just so memorable it was difficult not to. I won’t lie and say we hung out all the time and were close friends, but every time we crossed paths we got along extremely well.

Part of the comedy business that I’ve always enjoyed is the meeting of a wide variety of others from all over the place. It’s a random process, and there’s no rhyme or reason to it. Sometimes it occurs that two comedians will be matched up one time and one time only. I’ve had a number of those pairings, and so has everyone else who works the road. It’s strictly a luck of the draw deal.

Sometimes people click, and other times they clash. Very rarely have I clashed with comedians on the road. I’m about as easygoing as it gets, and I don’t bother anyone. If they want to hang out with me, fine. If not, that’s fine too. I never push myself on anyone, and have rarely had an issue.

Bookers and club owners are a little different, but that’s not the focus here. I’m speaking about comic on comic matchups, and how random they are. There are other comics I’ve been matched up with several times in various locations all across America. Like I said, there’s no set pattern.

That being said, there’s no official way to keep in contact with everyone. Facebook makes it a lot easier now, but back when I started there was no way to keep in touch with everybody I made contact with on the road. Most times we’d exchange phone numbers, but that’s about as far as it ever went. That’s no disrespect to anyone, we were all out on the road trying to make our living.

Many snob comics look down upon anybody who uses props or is a ventriloquist or hypnotist because they think it’s a cheap gimmick. All of those things done well require talent and ability, and Jent really did it well from what I hear. I’m sorry to hear of his passing and send him peace.

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