Karen Rontowski has two passions in life: comedy and ghosts. And they fuse onstage.
The comic has been infatuated with the paranormal for years. She is a self-professed geek for equipment that could help in her search for the afterlife.
"As a matter of fact, I am waiting for the postman to bring my new night-vision camera and digital thermometers as we speak," said Karen Rontowski in a phone interview from her Los Angeles home. She will be performing next weekend in Ogden.
"I had always been into the metaphysical. But when (the paranormal field) started to turn technical -- I really became a fan. Now I am mixing the two together."
She is currently shopping around a television pilot that follows her paranormal investigation team. Rontowski said her show is different because she can inject humor into the investigations.
For now, she is happy to spend some of her comedy stand-up time talking about the dead.
"I love to, but it needs to be grounded to a point," Rontowski said, since not everyone is familiar with ghost investigations. "People don't know what an EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) is."
She gets the best of her two worlds when she travels across the nation.
"I entertain live audiences at night and then I go looking for dead ones after," Rontowski said.
Rontowski grew up infatuated with comedy, and moved to the entertainment mecca of Las Vegas to be closer to it. It was a bellman who worked in the casino with her, when Rontowski was a cigarette girl, who brought her closer to her dream.
He encouraged her to go to her first open mic and then to get onstage.
"I was terrible," Rontowski said, "but I decided that is what I am going to do forever."
She still needed to learn the craft. In the beginning, the most important thing was getting laughs. But a case of nerves and a lack of stage presence made her seem like she was lobbing angry jokes across the room.
She needed a character onstage, so she went with a classic.
"My favorite comedian was Gracie Allen," said Rontowski. "So I kind of developed this character and then sort of became this character in real life."
She also learned what she says all potential comics need -- the art of comedy writing. Lots and lots of writing.
Writing is misery to her.
"I just enjoy being funny. It's the actual work that's a pain," Rontowski said. "Writing is a muscle like anything else. You have to do it all the time. It keeps your mind active and it keeps your mind looking in all directions. Comedy really is looking at things through all possible angles."
Every morning, the comic said, she has to put pen to paper and scribble down potential jokes -- no matter how they turn out.
"Because the odds are, you have to go through a million bad ideas to get to the good one," Rontowski said.
Watch Karen Rontowski's paranormal comedy: