A comedy career takes a leap of faith. Bone Hampton's leap was at a Jamie Foxx show.
The only problem was that Hampton was supposed to be in a biology lab at the University of North Texas during the performance.
He was faced with a difficult decision -- finish the lab or go see Foxx.
"So I snuck out of the lab and went to the student union," said Hampton, in a phone interview in advance of next weekend's shows at Wiseguys in Ogden.
Part of the Foxx show included an audience-participation portion involving impersonations of "Wanda" -- the hideous female character Foxx played on Fox's "In Living Color" in the early '90s.
Hampton was an "In Living Color" fanatic, and his friends urged him to go up onstage.
"Like three or four people came up onstage and they were horrible," Hampton said. "And the more they were horrible, the more my confidence went up."
The peer pressure won out. Hampton entered the contest and provided a stellar performance that brought Foxx onstage for some Wanda-style improv with him. Hampton walked away the champion, and on a new career path.
Hampton had always been an entertainer at heart -- although in some odd venues. He spent his time at North Texas as a defensive end on the football team. His tenure was remembered more for cracking his teammates up than for tackling opponents on the field.
Coaches had him travel with the squad even when he wasn't going to play, just to keep them laughing.
"I became the entertainer on the football team," Hampton said. "I thought, if I can make these type of guys laugh ... then I think I have a shot."
Hampton started his comedy career after college in the ranks of the Steve Harvey Comedy House in Dallas. He eventually moved on to California and found a more hard-core scene.
The lifestyle was not meant for the religious Hampton. He found solace in an unlikely eatery.
"There was a Christian soul food restaurant in Inglewood (California), and on Friday nights they would have stand-up comedy," Hampton said.
The restaurant showed him that it is possible to become a comic with a religious focus. The key is to avoid self-righteous, slapstick bits on religion, or what he calls "popcorn Christian comedy."
He learned to be funny first. Then he worried about bringing in religious elements.
"I realized I can talk about Christianity," Hampton said.
The new religious focus opened more opportunities, including comedy performances at churches.
He performed prominently in the Bible Belt. But he found that while religion is universal, comedy is regional.
He can talk cornbread and chicken in the South. "Then you go to San Francisco and they don't get the references," Hampton said.
"And then you go to Miami and they really don't know the references."
Yet he can always maintain the clean material that is true to his heart. He doesn't have to default to dirty material.
"Curse words are buzzwords," Hampton said.
"People respond to emotion. It's me trying to get emotion out of the non-curse words."